Before I start my review, I’d like to begin with a little context.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, the Vita port of Ninja Gaiden Sigma (an enhanced port of Ninja Gaiden Black, which was an enhanced update of Ninja Gaiden for the first Xbox), launched alongside Sony’s new handheld in February 2012.
Ninja Gaiden 3 was released in March of the same year for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The Wii U got an enhanced port in November with Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, a mere eight months after its initial release.
And now, a year after Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus came out, we have Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus (an enhanced port of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, which was an enhanced port of Ninja Gaiden 2).
Twelve months. Four Ninja Gaiden titles. Only one of them was an original game.
I can’t be the only one that sees a problem with this.
There’s really not much of a point going through the specifics of this game compared to the two previous editions of this game. Combat is still the same highly-stylized combo-driven system, and it still feels a bit too rigid compared to other highly-stylized combo-driven systems. Platforming segments break up the monotony of combat, and only serve to highlight the rigidity of the controls. You’ll find and upgrade new weapons and magic, fight ninjas, demons, and a menagerie of some of the craziest bosses in video game history. It’s all competent, but lacks the magic and hardcore difficulty of the first Ninja Gaiden/Black/Sigma game.
The Vita version makes a few new additions to spice things up, though they’re largely unnecessary. The “Hero” Play Style returns from the first Sigma Plus, allowing novice players to finish the game by putting blocking and evading on auto-pilot whenever Ryu’s health gets too low. You’ll also get a few new costumes (oh, boy!), the ability to use the touch-screen for different controls (like using the bow), as well as a new “Ninja Race” mode, which forces players to move through the various levels as quickly as possible.
Does this game need to exist? A portable version of the first Ninja Gaiden game was a great idea – Ninja Gaiden/Black/Sigma is largely considered one of the greatest action games of the Xbox/PS2 era, and it’s great that we have a portable edition of it. Ninja Gaiden 2, however, was considered mostly OK by a large majority of critics, and it’s hardly the necessary experience that the first game was. Even with the Vita’s meager library, you could do far better, and in a sea of choices, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus drowns itself with above-average gameplay, unnecessary additions, and technical issues. It’s not a bad game – just superfluous.