Review: Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus (PSV)

Title: Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus
Format: PlayStation Network Download (2126 MB) / Game Card
Release Date: February 22, 2012
Publisher: Tecmo
Developer: Team Ninja
Original MSRP: $35.99 (PSN) / $39.99 (Game Card)
ESRB Rating: M
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is exclusive to the PlayStation Vita.
The Game Card version was used for this review.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 259 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
Based off of the early PS3 release Ninja Gaiden Sigma, which in turn was based off of an even older Xbox 360 game, Ninja Gaiden Black, Sigma Plus essentially ports the PS3 experience to the Vita and adds in a few new wrinkles to entice fans of the series.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is a third-person action game where you play as Ryu Hayabusa in a tale of revenge. You start off with a tutorial of sorts as you make your way up to a mountain stronghold and by the end of this level, you’ll see your village burning in the distance. Nearly everyone has been killed and the Dark Dragon Blade has been stolen kicking off the story and giving you a reason to slaughter everything in your path.

Those first two levels take place in what looks like feudal Japan with horses and armor, swords, bows and staffs. It makes the transition to the next level especially jarring when you’re suddenly aboard a large blimp with guns and keycards. It only gets crazier from there as you reach a city with cobblestone streets and old architecture that’s inhabited by demons, motorcycle mounted enemies and armored personnel carriers. Just go with it, because really it’s all just an interesting backdrop for the meat of the game which is the combat.

You’ll find all kinds of weapons and armor as you make your way through the game along with new fighting techniques and upgrades. You’ll need all of them to make it through alive as the combat can be punishingly difficult. Blocking is essential along with avoiding many of the attacks coming at you. Getting the right combos down and decapitating an enemy can be particularly satisfying but it takes a lot of practice. One of the new additions to the Vita version is Hero Mode which is designed to make the game more accessible to first time players. When you health falls to a critical level, it kicks in and Ryu will automatically block any oncoming attacks letting the player focus strictly on offense. Blasphemous! Perhaps, a little, but it does allow novice players to experience more of the game than they ever would before giving up.

Later on, you’ll get to play as Rachael, a Demon Hunter who wields a large battle axe. She’s much slower on the attack but deals considerably more damage. It’s a nice break from the constant and somewhat repetitive battles you’ll face as Ryu. Rachael’s parts help to flesh out the story a bit but I get the feeling she was put in there more to show off the boob physics that Team Ninja developed.

As for the other Vita additions, an extra twenty Ninja Trials have been added where you’re essentially dropped into an enclosed space and you have to fight off wave after wave of enemies. It’s actually really good for practice and good for handheld gaming giving you a shorter experience when you need it.

The touch screens are used pretty sparingly compared to other games. It really feels like this was more or less a straight port of the PS3 version and then some touch controls were randomly added as an afterthought. You can use the screen to go into a first person view, moving the entire Vita around to look around the game world and it’s also used for the projectile weapons. This can be turned off and you’ll probably want to do that because my thumbs kept grazing the screen, putting me into the bow and arrow mode and I’d fire off several at walls and such before I could get back out of it. It really feels like a missed opportunity as the touch controls could have been used throughout the game much more effectively.

Visuals:
Ninja Gaiden Sigma came out eight months after the launch of the PlayStation 3 and it was one of the prettiest games on the system at the time. It translates very well to the Vita as all the colors and textures look nearly the same between the two. If you’ve been looking for Ninja Gaiden Sigma on the go, you won’t be sacrificing anything here in terms of control or style.

However, one of the biggest problems with the original, the camera, is still here. As a port, nothing was done to fix the problematic camera in the game. It can really detract from the experience swinging into terrible angles so you can’t see who’s attacking you. You can press R1 to center the camera behind your character, but in the middle of a frenzied battle where you’re moving all over the environment, it doesn’t help.

Audio:
Everything has been ported directly from the PS3 version here as well. The theme music, the decent voice overs, the sounds of battle. It all sounds good through the Vita’s speakers but even better, obviously, through headphones.

The music tends to fit throughout the game but the sounds of battle are somewhat limited and can get repetitive. Custom soundtracks are not available as any music you have playing when starting up the game will be paused and all Network Features will be disabled.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is a good translation of the PS3 version of the game and fans of the series will likely be pleased about having Ryu on the go. The touch controls feel tacked on and not very well thought out, which is a shame considering how well they’ve been implemented by most developers in other Vita games. If you’re just looking for some fun Ninja Gaiden action however, you’ll really like this.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
Buy this game from Amazon.com:

Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg
Buy this game from Amazon.co.uk:
Flag_of_Canada.svg
Buy this game from Amazon.ca:

 

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook
  • Hmmm, been tempted by this but think I’ll hold off as I’d be new to the series and I have enough to be playing on my Vita for now! Nice to know there are enough games at launch that I can put a few off for a while! Good, informative review.

  • I liked the idea of playing this on my Vita. After reading the review, it does looks great and I never finished the original. I reached the final boss and after dying 50 times, I smashed my controller against the floor and watched the ending on youtube.