TGS 2008: Ninja Blade Preshow First Look

We fly through the neon skyscrapers of Shinjuku in this first look at the upcoming Xbox 360 exclusive, Ninja Blade.

TOKYO--When Ninja Blade was first unveiled a few months ago, you could have been forgiven for thinking it had a lot of similarities to another, more popular Xbox 360 ninja-based action game. But in a pre-TGS media briefing held today at Microsoft's Xbox HQ in Tokyo, developers from From Software gave us our first close-up look at the upcoming game, and we're happy to say that while there are definitely similarities to the Ninja Gaiden series, Ninja Blade appears to have enough unique aspects to make it worth a look for action afficionados.

From Software was a little hesitant to give much detail about the story in Ninja Blade, but we do know that you'll play as a ninja trying to battle his way through a modern Tokyo whose entire population has been ravaged by a mysterious contaminant, turning both humans and animals into aggressive, zombielike creatures. The opening cinematic features large helicarriers flying low at night along the Tokyo skyline, before zooming into the cargo hold of one helicarrier for a close-up shot of the game's hero (dressed in fashionable ninja black, of course). As you'd expect from a mysterious shadow warrior, our hero promptly leapt off the back of the helicarrier and plummeted down towards a nearby skyscraper.

It's here that Ninja Blade's first major difference to the Ninja Gaiden franchise pops up. Ninja Blade looks to be going down the cinematic action route of many modern games (a la God of War); for example, a timed button-press event popped up onscreen as the ninja flew towards some human-sized flying demons. These timed events seem to be preceeded by a quick close-up of the hero ninja's eye, giving you some warning that something impressive is about to happen. Successfully pressing the correct button at the correct time (in this case, the X button) caused the ninja to perform a visually impressive slice attack on one of the demons while falling, before vaulting himself off the vanquished foe to attack another nearby demon. Another timed button sequence then appeared and this time caused the ninja to throw out a zip line to halt his fall and propel him through a pane of glass into a building's hallway.

Lurking in the hallway were several of the contaminated creatures, who looked to be stock-standard zombielike enemies. Our ninja had three weapons to choose from, the first being a sword, which resulted in fast attacks. Also available were two short blades joined together by a chain to form a nunchaku-like weapon. As the demo testers from From Software showed, this weapon can be used to attack more distant enemies, with the onscreen ninja twirling them around his body in increasingly large arcs. The final weapon shown was a large, stocky blade. As you'd expect, attacks using this weapon were much slower, although they did plenty more damage to the mainly lumbering opponents that appeared in the hallway. Our ninja also had some special moves that he showed off, including some wind-based attacks using large shurikens. The action here was quite stylish, with the ninja performing some impressive and athletic combos before another timed button sequence popped up. From the end of the hallway, a gigantic worm appeared (complete with thousands of sharp teeth protruding from its mouth), forcing our ninja to leap to safety out of another window.

While the combat described here is probably nothing new to ninja game vets, the next section shown was certainly more exciting. After jumping out of the building, our ninja had to engage in some combat while falling down the side of a tall skyscraper. The ninja had to deal with more flying demons, while simultaneously trying to slow his fall, occasionally by stabbing his largest blade into the side of the building. The frenetic pace of this action sequence was something to behold, and the developers said that vertical combat like this would be a staple of the full game thanks to the many high-rise buildings in the game's Tokyo setting.

The last key gameplay mechanic shown off during today's demo was ninja vision, an ability that let our hero slow down time, point out enemy weak spots, and see things that ordinary humans can't see. After falling down the building, our ninja had to take on an extremely large enemy spider perched on top of a building. To get to the spider, the ninja had to run down a narrow platform. At this point, the From Software demo player switched on ninja vision, which turned the gameworld a shade of red and slowed down time considerably, allowing him to dodge the large ground-based projectile attacks being thrown at him. When he got to the end of the platform, the boss fight started, with ninja vision turned on occassionally to dodge some of the spider's more dangerous attacks. Ninja vision can't be used indefinitely, however. A bar below the ninja's health bar on the top left side of the screen shows you how much time you have left. If you deplete the entire bar, your ninja's action will suffer slightly and the screen will go out of focus momentarily as the bar refills. The demo ended after another timed button sequence, which saw the giant spider rear up and the ninja throw a zip line to the creature's underside to swing out of harm's way.

From this hands-off look at Ninja Blade, the game's focus on cinematic sequences appears to lend the game even more over-the-top ninja slicing action than seen in previous similar titles. Failing a timed button sequence also seems to result in only minimal frustration--for example, our demo tester failed one sequence during the spider boss fight, which caused him to be pushed back to the start of the narrow platform section (but with the already depleted section of the boss's health staying where it was). The developers at From Software say the game is almost complete, with only minor tweaks left. Ninja Blade certainly looks good from a graphics perspective, and we're keen to get our hands on a demo on the TGS floor later this week. Check back with GameSpot for more on Ninja Blade.

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RandolphRam

Randolph Ramsay

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.
Ninja Blade

Ninja Blade

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33 comments
green_dominator
green_dominator

I'm so done with From Software. They made a really good run with Armored Core on PS1 and PS2 but now they suck. I played the demo for Ninja Blade and I wasn't impressed. It feels like its trying to compete for 2 prizes, worst character design and worst Ninja Gaiden wannabe.....I wouldn't touch this game with a 10 meter cattle prod.......

tsyunami
tsyunami

i've played the demo to this and this is game is fun as hell( im not saying hell is fun, but it might be to some people)...well at least the demo...cant wait until the full game is released

Venom_800tt
Venom_800tt

I got this game, it is kinda similar to Ninja Gaiden but the graphics are much much better, actually one of the best graphics on Xbox 360 and the gameplay is very awesome. Camera is so much better than Ninja Gaiden. For those who dont like the QTB where you have to time the button, you guys just dont get how intense that is, i love it, it makes so much more excitement, like you cant put the controller down, action after action and even if you miss a button, it doesnt game over, just rewinds to the first scene, kinda like RE4 where Leon and Krauser fought (the cinematic scene). There are more bosses in this game than enemies, im still amazed how these Japanese guys pulled this off. For sure one of the best games of 09 IMO. Microsoft Rulez to get this game as exclusive.

Weird-X
Weird-X

i've played this game !! IT'S #"$%#$#% AWESOME !!!!! This game has sooo many one liners and old ninja movies stereotype crap that it's perfect !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Stunning action sequences and the gameplay itself !!! it's really close to ninja gaiden ...but even more action...... it's like you're playing the dam movie from 80es lmao

supermanmega
supermanmega

i hope this game is good....it looks good so far

Burninat0r
Burninat0r

Sweet hope the game is good as/ or better than ninja gaiden

nishanth12
nishanth12

i think we got a good competetor to god of war 3 !!!

NND1
NND1

The more exclusives teh better.. HaHa

Mac11_Fanboy
Mac11_Fanboy

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

setsunaxx
setsunaxx

I am a ninja so ima love this game especially tenchu

zacattack214
zacattack214

I have been waiting for someone to invent vertical "falling" combat. That sounds absolutely beautiful.

mergedsalem23
mergedsalem23

oh boy here we go is some developers running out of ideals this game got be there done that writen over it

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

Though this doesn't sound bad, it just doesn't interest me.

maximaxi4eva2
maximaxi4eva2

What an imaginative name. Kinda gives you the feel of "Play this game! you get to hit a cardboard box continuosly with a sharpened stick!" Just coz you got low budget

jimmyshabadoo
jimmyshabadoo

For the love of God, STOP THE TIMED BUTTON PRESSES. Timed button presses do not equal gameplay. It's sloppy, unimaginative game design. Not only that, most of the time it distracts from the cutscene your art and animation team just painstakingly created because the player has his eyes glued to the bottom of the screen.

wonzan
wonzan

Ninja Blade is SUCH an unoriginal title. Which makes it very fitting I guess ¬_¬

kegmiester
kegmiester

This does look promising. Although the additional qte challenges does concern me, as i hate them. But i'm sure that'll be a minor gripe and will do the important job of entertaining me.

Un4givingAsault
Un4givingAsault

oh and hopefully it doesnt have incredibly bad voice acting, and script like most japanese games do. Eg. Ace Combat, Lost Planet. ect.

Un4givingAsault
Un4givingAsault

Looks like there throwing different elements that are usually not found in a ninja game, into this one. Still kinda skeptical, not a huge fan of the whole ninja thing, seems kinda fanciful, and impractical in a modern setting. Why use a sword when guns are so cool.

p30
p30

This game deserves more love , it sounds awesome.

p30
p30

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

jadefury27
jadefury27

this is starting to look like shinobi-lite.

xNinjaKingx
xNinjaKingx

i wont get ninja gaiden but i sure as hell wanna get this XD CMON 360 >:O I NEED MY 360

c_mcafee
c_mcafee

Timed button presses and ninja bullet-time? I will have to reserve any judgement until we get some more info, but I hope it turns out well.

lowkey254
lowkey254

Ninja Gaiden without the Gaiden... As long as the Ninja part is there then it's all good. When are we going to get a remake of shinobi with better gameplay, graphics and interface?

sinncross
sinncross

Doesn't sound too bad. Though I'm more interested in Demon's Souls atm.

MegaWang
MegaWang

Completely awesome I say.