A sequel to the original Ninja Gaiden for the NES, Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos was released for the Wii Virtual Console in 2007. It is a standard platformer with some cool added elements, but I’m still not sure how ninja it is.
Story (3 out of 5)
It starts right were the first Ninja Gaiden left off. The main character is Ryu (can we get a more standard Japanese hero name, please?), and he is looking for his girlfriend who has been kidnapped by Ashtar, an evil wizard. There is more to the story, but it’s mostly spoilers.
It’s not totally original, I mean, guy rescues girl? That’s almost every NES platformer from the 1980s! Also, I think Ryu is the only ninja in the game. He’s usually fighting monsters and other evil beings. I want more ninjas!
Gameplay (3 out of 5)
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos is a standard platformer in many respects. You control Ryu as he fights his way through stages to find Ashtar. You have a health bar, like Castlevania, which is nice. I’m not a big fan of the one or two hits and you die variety of platformers. You can collect red balloons filled with power ups (by popping them with your knife!), and you can even climb walls (a very ninjaesque ability).
The controls with the Wiimote are okay. However, I found them a little unresponsive. I’m not sure if this is the original game or something to do with the emulation. The directional pad controls movement, while 1 and 2 controls jumping and weapons. If you hold ‘Up’ and use a weapon, the type of weapon will change when you have a power up. This is kind of cool because you can collect shuriken (ninja power!), fire balls and other cool things. Each level is timed, so you don’t have all day to complete them.
My biggest pet peeve were the wall climbing controls. Sometimes, the game just didn’t want me to do it, but I had to in order to continue playing (or jump to my death, which I was trying to avoid). These finicky controls were a major problem and really put a damper on the game for me, especially when time was running out!
Graphics and Sound (3 out of 5)
I’m up in the air about the look of the game. For one, the backgrounds and cut scenes are well done. The cityscapes are actually quite pretty, for an NES game, and the depth of the colors and shading looks really nice. However, the characters themselves are very pixelated and one dimensional. When everything else looks so nice, to have all the enemies and Ryu look like they came from a completely different game is a little bit off putting. Ryu is not shaded at all, and it isn’t even very easy to tell what he is.
Sound wise there isn’t much to report. The songs are fast paced sound like the music of a mediocre techno band, but there is nothing about them that really stands out. I’m not even sure if the sound effects are better or worse. They sound like someone made them with their mouth (maybe someone did!). I have a hard time taking them seriously, as they just made me laugh.
Fun (2 out of 5)
If the controls were better, I would have had a great time playing this game. However, the bad controls made it really hard for me to get into it. If the game wants me to climb a wall, they better make it easy to hold onto the wall! Otherwise, being a ninja is kind of cool, and I did have a good time throwing shuriken at monsters. But the number of walls that need climbing makes the game more frustrating than anything else.
Overall (3 out of 5)
If you are a fan of the new Ninja Gaiden games, you might want to check out where it all began. Don’t expect too much, as it is an NES game, but it is worth a look if you have 500 spare Wii points. However, if you are just looking for a way to pass the time, try a different game. The controls make it too frustrating to really enjoy it.