When I heard that Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus was an exact port with a few extra goodies, from the PS3 to the PSVita, I was left with feelings of both ecstatic happiness and dread. Exact ports to handhelds don’t often work out that well. When I play a handheld console I’m not always looking for an epic tale that will take me globe-trotting and vanquishing enemies in a series of 2 hour slots because when I’m playing a handheld I’m usually sitting on a train, sitting at the back of a lecture hall pretending to be working or sitting at my girlfriends pretending to be listening to her. I aien’t got time for a full console release. Bite-size instalments of an epic tale is good but it’s important to keep missions to a certain length and preferably brief cutscenes… or even more preferably no cutscenes. I mean this is games development 101, straight after you learn how to turn on the brown filter in First-Person shooters.
I admire the effort to create a full console experience for a handheld but there’s sitting in the dark, playing some lovely video games on your big TV, all cosy, and there’s playing on bus surrounded by people who smell like they suffer from severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome, on a 5inch screen while being repeatedly coughed on by the elderly gent next to you. “Cough on me one more fucking time and I’ll have you euthanized.” Story? Surely you are playing Ninja Gaiden to slash shit up? Correct, and slash I did. I slashed, I fireballed, I shurikend people till they looked like Sonic the Hedgehog and I did it all beautifully on the exquisite OLED Vita Screen. It’s a damn fine looking game, one that puts even some of the early PS3 games to shame. However just like all beauty, it comes with a cost. For some beauty is exchanged for brains, depth or a heart, for Ninja Gaiden, it is frames per second. It has got to be expected, you can’t have this much action going on, looking this good, and not expect a slowdown. This is why things need to be toned down a little for a handheld, so you can understand my confusion when I noticed they had taken out things like multiplayer but kept enemy count similar? I would much rather Bro-Op than have an extra ninja on screen trying to cut of my arms.
Changing the amount of enemies would require a hefty balancing rework, essential if the developer wanted to keep the soul-crushing difficultly level of the originals. Am I wrong to expect this much effort for a port? I realise now that as I have aged and matured in the 2 short years since its original release I have become much harder to please. I now realise that the difficulty of a hack and slash shouldn’t come from finding the next group of enemies to dispatch. The level should flow and the space between fights should act as a breather from the heart racing combat that is Ninja Gaiden’s bread and butter. When playing games like Bioshock exploration is part of the game and I like to take my time immersing myself in the world, hack and slashes, because of their inherent nature of fast paced gameplay, don’t really lend themselves to running around for 5 minutes in a pretty bland environment, even if there is one barely hidden collectable on the way.
Attempting to keep it almost like a carbon copy of its older brothers version was both its most impressive feature and its downfall. I’ll keep playing it and I would recommend it to someone who has already played the other Ninja Gaiden games and wants to play one on-the-go, but from what I’ve heard from a friend new to the Ninja Gaiden series, the tutorial tells you the buttons to press but starts you off very much at the deep end. This is actually the third incarnation of Ninja Gaiden II, the first being an exclusive title for the Xbox 360, the second including the PS3 and the third being for the vita and getting a nice like + sign at the end even though they removed one of the best features of the series, its multiplayer and only added in a few new bosses, player characters and stages. Sigma 2 for the PS3 was my favourite of the Series up till now and is regarded highly by other players so it confuses me why they would take anything out and yet still leave the game-breaking framerate issues in by having too many enemies on screen. It gives it the feeling of a lazy port rather than a fully repurposed release for a handheld. A Vita exclusive Ninja Gaiden adventure I’m sure would be superb. Still I got to dismember ninjas on-the-go which is a big plus for me.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.