A ninja's life should be pretty straightforward as a general rule. However, Tecmo's Ryu Hayabusa isn't your everyday ninja. The super ninja has had his ups and downs, with a fair share of stabbings thrown in, over the course of the Ninja Gaiden series. The most recent console entry, Ninja Gaiden II, which was released last year on the Xbox 360, is now undergoing a PlayStation 3 conversion to become Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. While this may sound like a straight port of the Xbox 360 Ninja Gaiden II, it's not. In fact, the game is getting a chunk of work done to it, everything from camera tweaks to all-new content, which will make Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 a meaty addition to the PlayStation 3 catalog.
If you're not familiar with Ninja Gaiden II, the game is a prequel to the classic Ninja Gaiden games on the NES. Though there is a story revolving around Ryu Hayabusa's race to retrieve his village's demon statue and save the world, the key takeaways are that killing things as a highly skilled ninja with an arsenal of conventional weapons and magic is good fun and that developer Team Ninja likes to make its games challenging. For the PlayStation 3 version of the game, developer Team Ninja and director/producer Yosuke Hayashi are aiming to refine and expand on Gaiden II. The approach is fueled in part by the feedback provided by fans after playing it on the Xbox 360 and the team's desire to create the best game it can. On the story side, Sigma 2 will tell the story seen in Gaiden II on the 360 and will also add in new story elements tied to the new playable characters.
New playable characters we say? Yes, brand new and even sexier (this is Team Ninja we're talking about). Sigma 2 will feature new playable female characters, which should be familiar to fans of the series and of Tecmo's Dead or Alive. The first is Ayane, the purple-haired ninja from DOA, who will come packing her own unique moves, weapons, magical attacks, and provocatively placed butterfly accessory. The second new character is Momiji, last seen at a lower resolution in Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword on the DS, who will bring her own arsenal of abilities and weapons to the fray. Both characters will be integrated into the story, which will branch off to follow their adventures. Not to be outdone in the new content department, Hayabusa will face off against new enemies and bosses with some new weapons tossed in to help deal with the new foes.
Beyond new playable characters, Sigma 2 will feature an all-new online co-op mode that lets you and a friend team up to work your way through more than 30 challenge stages, which can be played in one of four difficulty settings. Your performance will be ranked and uploaded to leaderboards so you can see how you stack up against the world. The stages will be a mix of original areas and those seen in the single-player game, which are being redone for co-op play. Finally, the game will see a good amount of work put into refining the gameplay experience. The game's camera is being tweaked based on user feedback. You will also get additional cues on where to go next from your playable character because your character's head will look off in the direction you're supposed to go in. You'll also find a variety of additional tweaks peppered throughout the gameplay to help make Sigma 2 a smoother, sleeker evolution of its 360 counterpart.
Sigma 2 is making use of an enhanced version of the graphics engine used for the original game. The game is aiming to surpass the visual quality of the last game by blending new tech into the original engine. The results so far are impressive and bode well for the game's final release.
Outside of the meat and potatoes of gameplay and visuals, Sigma 2 will feature trophy support. But you should plan on logging a good chunk of time in the game's various modes to earn them all, because Team Ninja is sprinkling them throughout both the single-player and the co-op modes. You'll at least be able to look back on all the work in stat form, thanks to an in-depth stat-tracking feature that will keep tabs on fun facts like the number of enemies you've killed, preferred weapons, and so on. Lastly, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 will feature Dual Shock 3/Sixaxis functionality, so you can plan on rumble to enhance your experience and shaking your way to more powerful ninpo magic attacks. Based on this early look, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is shaping up to be a worthy follow-up to Ninja Gaiden Sigma. The refinements and tweaks to the core gameplay all sound like they're going to be beneficial. The additional content, especially the online co-op modes and the additional playable characters, beefs up the original Ninja Gaiden II's offerings quite a bit. According to Tecmo, there is roughly 30 percent more content in the single-player additions on top of the all-new co-op content. Fans of the first game on the PlayStation 3 should definitely be pleased by what Sigma 2 is serving up. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is slated to ship this fall for the PlayStation 3. Look for more on the game in the coming months.