The Vita’s meager game library needs a boost any way it can get one, and we’re keen on proper ports as long as they do the original game justice. Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus – the second in the franchise to hit Sony’s game-starved portable – is actually a prime candidate for “portception ,” as it’s a port of a port – it’s a re-release of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, the enhanced version of Ninja Gaiden II, which made its initial debut nearly five years ago. That’s all fine and dandy, complaints about originality aside, but when a port begins to degrade and starts to feel more like a slog than a polished handheld version of a great game, something is amiss.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus goes to great length to attempt a console-quality adventure on the Vita without sacrificing action or visual quality in the process, though the dips in character model quality are mostly noticed only when it comes to frame rate, this is graphically intact port of a 2008 game. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given how powerful the Vita’s hardware is, and with full knowledge that you’re getting the same visual quality of the original game let’s take a look at the actual gameplay, as that’s most important.
For the most part, this is basically the same Ninja Gaiden II you enjoyed years ago, with the same bizarre combination of ninja, government secrets, and family the Ninja Gaiden Series has become known for. Ryu Hayabusa is in rare form, and if it bleeds Ryu can sure as heck kill it. He does so by pulling off deadly combos and brutal ninpo spells that can only wreck the opponents you’ll face in game. There’s plenty in play to ensure you have the tools to feel like a ninja master, and it’s entertaining to pull off the moves with the greatest of ease.
But the real enemy still hasn’t been slain – the camera. Though the game works well enough on its own to give you the best vantage points you can have, sometimes that’s not enough as off-camera enemies use this opportunity to launch offensive attacks as a result. Some painfully unfair death occur because of this, but it’s not so much of a surprise, looking back on the original game. But it’s baffling that Tecmo didn’t take the opportunity to improve the graphics or horrendous camera angles when other measure were taken to enhance the game as a whole.
In fact, two new game modes were added: tag missions and Ninja Ray, the first of which requires a real partner as there’s no online functionality for the multiplayer to team up with to conquer enemies that appear in waves. Ninja Race is a glorified time-attack mode with little to offer by way of innovations or new arguments. If you’re like me you’ll begin to wonder then why more effort wasn’t exerted on improving the game as a whole rather than wasting time on throwaway modes.
PS Vita users starved for new content may want to look at their second offering in Team Ninja’s bloody franchise for their platform with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus, as it basically recreates the original 2008 release on the smaller screen – for better and worse. It’s taken noticeable hits in the graphic and framerate department, since it’s an older game that’s been through quite a bit of changes. Many of its flaws are carryovers from the original game, but even so, that doesn’t excuse its low-quality as a port that you’ll pay more for than a used copy of the original game. Why Tecmo didn’t take the opportunity to fix some of the game’s most apparent deficiencies, namely the horrible camera, is puzzling as they went out of their way to include unnecessary additions like bonus game modes that add nothing to the overall experience. There’s still fun to be had here, but it’s just not the kick start the Vita library needs right now.
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