We slip on our tabi socks and try out Tecmo's upcoming Xbox game.
Tecmo stopped by today and let us try out a work-in-progress build of Ninja Gaiden, the highly anticipated update of one its beloved old-school classics. The game was first announced at E3 2002 and has been seen only sporadically since. E3 2003 was probably the game's lengthiest showing, with Team Ninja executive officer and general manager Tomonobu Itagaki demonstrating the game at the Microsoft booth.
We were able to try our hand at two levels, tentatively titled Ninja Fortress and Monastery Underground Base. The first level we tried, Ninja Fortress, will also serve as the first level of the game. As such, the level's main purpose is to introduce you to the controls and the basics of combat. You'll move Ryu Hayabusa with the left analog stick, and you'll have four basic ways to attack your foes: X will trigger a quick attack, Y will trigger as a slower, more-powerful attack, B will trigger your secondary weapons such as shuriken, and Y and B together will trigger your selected ninja magic. The A button will let you perform a single jump. The left trigger will block, and the right trigger will center the camera behind Hayabusa. The right analog stick will call up a first-person look mode. While the controls sound pretty basic, we soon discovered they're merely a solid foundation for a satisfying combat system.
You'll start the Ninja Fortress level in a pretty innocuous cave. After taking a few steps, you'll hit a dead end in an alcove. However, if you use the look function, you'll see there's a way out directly above you. Simply jumping doesn't do much, as Hayabusa can't get enough air. But thanks to a handy update of his wall-grab ability, as you jump, you'll be able to ricochet off the walls to your left and right, moving upward until you reach the exit. Once outside, you'll be greeted by a view of a mountainside to your left, and the entrance to a building, marked by breakable torches, to your right. If you look around, you'll notice the birds heard in the background circling high above.
Upon entering the building, you'll be greeted by some enemies. If you've played an action game in the past 15 years or so, you'll likely have two basic reactions when you first encounter the enemies: "kill" and "mash buttons." These will initially serve you pretty well. The X- and Y-button attacks are easy to pull off, and getting a flashy combo or two out is really not much work. But there's quite a bit more to combat once you start working the jump and the secondary weapon into the mix. More importantly, the game's context-sensitive system offers a great deal of combat options once you start to get comfortable. Jumping and hitting an attack button near an enemy will let you perform throws and different types of flashy attacks. If you feel daring, you can hold down the Y button to charge up your power attack--a devastating slice that doles out considerable damage. The only drawback to the move is that you'll be vulnerable as Hayabusa charges up his sword. If that isn't enough in the way of death-dealing options, you'll be able to use your environment to your advantage by performing attacks by jumping off walls. You'll even be able to run on walls, which opens up some other attacking options. Granted, some of these attacks aren't useful everywhere--wall running, for example, is probably not a very bright idea when you're in a small room--but you'll have plenty of options regardless. The combat system's flexibility more than compensates for the lack of a dedicated lock-on button, which has become de rigueur in 3D action games these days. The combination of context-sensitive moves and responsive controls makes killing the early enemies a breeze. Best of all, you'll also be able to strike back at enemies when blocking attacks via a counter system. At the moment, the system is in its infancy and is pretty forgiving, but Itagaki was quick to note it will be polished considerably to ensure it is suitably challenging.
- Player Reviews: 529
- Game Universe:
- Ninja Gaiden (ARC, GG, LYNX, NES, SMS, TG16, GEN),
- Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (NES),
- Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom (LYNX, NES),
- Ninja Gaiden 3 (PS3, X360),
- Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus (PS3, VITA),
- Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus (PS3, VITA),
- Ninja Gaiden II (X360),
- Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (DS),
- Ninja Gaiden Black (XBOX),
- Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (SNES)
- Number of Players: