Showing posts with label itagaki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label itagaki. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ninja Gaiden (Xbox, 2004) Was Ahead Of Its Time

Note: I use 'hack n slash' to describe the genre of games to which titles such as Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry and Bayonetta belong. I recognize that to many, the term hack n slash calls to mind games like Diablo and Champions of Norrath while games like Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden would be considered third person action games. Just remember that when I say hack n slash I mean Ninja Gaiden, not Diablo.

'Ahead of its time' is a phrase with which I am intimately familiar, having said it myself many times in my life (usually in reference to a video game or a technical death metal album I am raving about at any given time). It is also a phrase with which I take issue, as the concept of something being ahead of its time implies that it is possible for something to exist before it should exist, which seems patently absurd, especially when stated so clearly. If something comes to exist at a moment in time, what other time could there be, aside from the one in question, at which the thing in question should exist and who determines that? Clearly the idea of something being ahead of its time is a romanticized and hyperbolic one. That being said, I am prone to hyperbole and romanticism and so I am going to make the claim that Ninja Gaiden (Xbox, 2004) was ahead of its time. If it is at all possible for something to be so, Ninja Gaiden is it.

At the time of the game's release, the hack n slash genre was well established, but certainly not to the degree to which it is today. Nor was it nearly as popular as it is now. God of War had not yet released. Devil May Cry 3, arguably the best in the series and the title that really elevated both the Devil May Cry series and the hack n slash genre as a whole in terms of mainstream popularity (as well as acting as redemption after the dud that was Devil May Cry 2) had also not yet been released. The first title in the series was, at the time, widely considered to be the best of the genre, and probably rightfully so. At the time, Capcom really innovated and elevated the genre with the release of the original Devil May Cry.

And then in 2004, a reboot of the classic 8 bit Ninja Gaiden series developed by Team Ninja, the development studio behind the Dead or Alive fighting game franchise, was released and the genre was elevated to dizzying new heights (see, there's that aforementioned tendency to hyperbole).

The first thing that really stood out upon first playing the game was how smooth, fluid and fast everything was. The game ran at a blistering 60 fps, which, if I am not mistaken, was a first for the genre, at least on consoles. It felt incredibly smooth, fast and responsive, and this was felt immediately after beginning to play. The controls were tight and the main character, Ryu Hayabusa, was incredibly agile. The options in terms of mobility were staggering. You could run up and along walls, hop back and forth between them to get to high places in seconds (known within the series as "bird flipping") jump on enemy heads and then launch yourself off of them, either once or multiple times in succession, allowing for the possibility of getting past a group of enemies by simply traversing over them as though they were a part of the flooring. Ryu could also roll dodge and perform a move known as the "Flying Swallow" which is a mid air flying sword thrust which covers great distances instantaneously and can decapitate multiple enemies in a single motion.

Hmmmm....three guys all shooting at me, what do I- oh, that takes care of that then!
Totally unrelated to the feel of the game, but equally noticeable upon first playing it was the fact that the game was absolutely stunning. Upon release it was one of the best looking Xbox games. Arguably even the best, period. This makes the fact that it ran at 60 fps all the more impressive since developers typically have to sacrifice either visual fidelity or the framerate when developing console games. The best looking games, especially during the sixth video game generation, were typically 30 fps. The few games that did run at a higher framerate were not typically the most technically impressive games from a visual standpoint. Ninja Gaiden was a top tier game in terms of visuals and it also somehow ran at 60 fps. The game was an absolute technical marvel and it was a dream to play while being a beauty to behold.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

So, I Gave in and Rented Ninja Gaiden 3....

I gave in and rented the damn thing (no way am I buying it and supporting TN's 'vision') and so far (beginning of Day 3 on Hard) I have to say that it's.....overall a great game with several significant flaws, one of which being it's a TERRIBLE Ninja Gaiden game. I'll review the game once I am done with it, but for now, here's a bullet point list of a few (negative) things about the game that many/most reviewers seemed to have missed (as usual):

-Recovery frames are far too numerous and sustained
-The usefulness of shuriken cancelling has been decreased (reduction in frames during which it is possible)
-Invincibility frames (i-frames) have been reduced in number
-Enemy tracking is not broken, but problematic
-Wind pathing controls are a bit screwed up
-No guillotine throw :(
-Shuriken cancelling while airborne (or even throwing normal air shurikens) results in OL recovery frames
-Enemy grabs have pretty obvious telegraphs (audio/visual) but this is largely negated by above issues
-ShurikenSlideStrong Attack on a bloody enemy to initiate a SOB moment often glitches and fails
-TN set out to negate UT spam, but in doing do merely replaced it with SOB spam
-Enemy encounters are ridiculously lengthy gauntlets (at least on Hard) resulting in extreme repetition
-Control of Ryu is taken from the player FAR too often, ruining the pacing
-Far too much grab spam in addition to the recovery frame issue=less combat options (at least on Hard)
-Many moments of slowdown on Hard and above (due to the high enemy and projectile count)
-Most of the music heard thus far has been much less memorable than that of the previous games
-Invisible walls
-Wall running and bird flipping opportunities are few and far between
-Too much bow combat. It's just not very engaging

On the positive side of things:

-Some nice new DS combos
-OT's look cool and are prioritized (OT opportunities are always recognized by the engine and prioritized)
-The lack of items, while overall a gigantic step backwards, does add to the tension/difficulty during fights
-SOB chaining, while overall a detriment, is actually kind of fun, surprisingly
-Graphics are (mostly) great
-Regent of the Mask is a good boss. Bit too easy but well designed and fun
-Bow control is much more user friendly than before (not all changes aiming for ease of use are bad)
-Quickest loading of the modern console NG games (restarting after death is pretty fast, which is nice)
-There's still challenge and fun to be had here. A non 'hardcore' Ninja Gaiden fan might LOVE this game

If I don't give up on this game (I have been tempted to a few times) I will review it in full upon completion.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ninja Gaiden 3 E3 2011 Debut Trailer

Well, that was ultimately disappointing. Hopefully we get some in depth gameplay footage this E3.

Can`t say what I`ve seen so far is all that revealing, save for the fact that Hayashi and co. still seem to think a gigantic, nearly stationary boss is an engaging boss fight....

What do you guys think?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ninja Gaiden Series Retrospective

Final Fantasy. Sonic the Hedgehog. Super Mario. Half-Life. Metal Gear. Halo. Resident Evil. Kirby. Call of Duty. Dragon Quest. Diablo. Gran Turismo. Ask a gamer what video game series is their favourite, and you'll often hear them name one of the above, along with a multitude of other diverse answers. One series that, for reasons I cannot understand, seems to get overlooked, even though many of the entries in the series are among the best of the genre on their respective platforms. The series to which I am referring is none other than Ninja Gaiden.