TOKYO--Despite a practically punishing level of difficulty, Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox was about as close to perfection as action games get. Tecmo and developer Team Ninja later followed suit with Ninja Gaiden Black, which addressed some of the previous game's minor issues and added even more challenge and variety to the mix. While fans are naturally hoping for a full-on sequel, they now have Ninja Gaiden Sigma for the PlayStation 3 to look forward to. While this next version of the game is clearly similar to Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden Black, judging by the gameplay trailer shown for the first time at this year's Tokyo Game Show, Sigma is going to offer some really exciting new gameplay on top of an already fantastic game.
The trailer for Ninja Gaiden Sigma implies that this game will include remixed versions of some of the sequences from the previous titles. The trailer opens with a battle between Ninja Gaiden protagonist Ryu Hayabusa and some enemy samurai amid a raging inferno--the building they're fighting in looks about to collapse from all the heat and fire. The effect is really impressive, and it takes a moment to realize that it's gameplay, not just a CG cutscene. This sequence looks reminiscent of the early part in Ninja Gaiden, when Ryu discovers that his village has been set ablaze by enemies searching for the Dark Dragon Blade.
Next, the trailer shows Ryu fighting in the ninja fortress, the first level of Ninja Gaiden, but there's nothing terribly new here. But the next sequence looks very different. Ryu is fighting next to a lake or river as those annoying helicopter drones harass him. He's running on the surface of the water (a little-used move from Ninja Gaiden) while dodging huge piranha in addition to those bots. Some sort of weird fish man has the misfortune of getting in his way, so Ryu busts out with his Izuna Drop spinning pile driver and crashes down under the surface of the water with the deadly attack. This is a never-before-seen enemy and environment for the game.
Next Ryu appears to be fighting from the airship seen in the third level of Ninja Gaiden. The enemy commandos he's fighting will look familiar to fans, but they'll instantly note that Ryu is fighting with two swords here. This is another new addition to the series, as Ryu has previously used only a single sword in combat (among his variety of weapons). The two-weapon fighting looks as fast and fantastic as Ryu's other fighting styles.
The trailer then cuts to a young priestess, presumably the woman killed in the attack on Hayabusa Village. She's just standing around, looking pretty.
There's more action as Ryu takes on motorcycle thugs in front of Han's Bar in the Vigoor Empire's capital city. The setting is familiar, but the motorcycles are definitely new, and it looks great as Ryu knocks the riders off their mounts.
Next, Ryu comes up against some of the most notorious foes from Ninja Gaiden, the lava worms. These huge things look different now and are coming at him from even more directions than before. It's one of the game's imposing boss fights, and we're getting worried just thinking about it.
A bigger surprise ensues, as Ryu can be seen fighting Gamov, the conniving investigator seen only in cutscenes during previous Ninja Gaiden games. Here Gamov is fighting with twin pistols and seems capable of some fancy moves, though Ryu overpowers him with his twin swords, knocking Gamov's hat from his head. This appears to be a new boss fight, and it should be fun for Gaiden fans to give Gamov the what for.
It should also be fun for Gaiden fans to play as Rachel, the curvaceous demon hunter, who's now going to be fully playable. The next part of the trailer shows Rachel taking on a couple of gigantic red fiends using her trusty warhammer. In a nice touch, a fiend grazes her head and cuts the ties of her pony tail, causing the fight to continue with Rachel sporting a brand-new hairdo. She's clearly capable of some evasive maneuvers and other techniques that Ryu can't use.
Back to Ryu, who's fighting a bloated gunner similar to the one at the end of the airship level from Gaiden...except this looks even tougher since a helicopter is raining bombs on him. Fun...
Then there's a shot of Ryu fighting the bone dragon from Ninja Gaiden, which looks a little different than before. After that, he's fighting a demoness with a tentacle for an arm. This character was introduced in the second Hurricane Pack for Ninja Gaiden, but will be new to most fans.
Finally, we see Ryu confronting Doku, the greater fiend, in the middle of Ryu's burning village. This encounter ends poorly for Ryu in Ninja Gaiden, but perhaps we'll be able to turn the tables in Sigma. Brief shots are then shown of Rachel, Gamov, and Ayane from the Dead or Alive series, who helps Ryu during the Ninja Gaiden Storyline. The trailer displays the fast action and exceptional animation quality the Gaiden games are known for, and while the graphics are based on the Xbox versions of the game, they're clearly improved.
This trailer should give Ninja Gaiden fans a lot to get excited about, though they might need to remind themselves a few times that this game is slated for release only on the PlayStation 3, at least for now. The new features implied by the trailer seem like they could add meaningful new material and lots of tough, exhilarating new battles to Ninja Gaiden. We'll bring you more coverage in the weeks to come.