We don our ninja cowls, and then we flying-bird-flip straight into the free, downloadable expansion to Ninja Gaiden, which makes the game different and even more challenging. The answers to all your questions are inside.
When it was released earlier this year, we hailed Ninja Gaiden as one of the best Xbox action games yet--not to mention one of the single best action adventure games ever made. As if to solidify the truth behind those observations, soon the game will be getting a free, downloadable expansion pack that adds brand-new content and lots of new challenge to an already-spectacular game. We've been fortunate enough to get our hands on the Hurricane Pack prior to most others, and we've been vigorously fighting our way through the game in its refurbished state. We're pleased to present to you our comprehensive findings about what we've seen and experienced thus far. (You can thank us later for giving you the good word on what you'll be getting yourself into when you play this thing.)
First things first. What, exactly, is Hurricane Pack: Volume I?
The Hurricane Pack, which will become available for download exclusively via Xbox Live on Monday, August 9, is a free bonus for Ninja Gaiden fans, and it will be used as the proving grounds for Tecmo's second Master Ninja Tournament, which is basically a high-score contest pitting the world's best Ninja Gaiden players against one another. You don't need to compete in the tournament to play and enjoy the Hurricane Pack, though. This download features a brand-new weapon, a new camera-control option, a key, a new play mechanic, and a remixed single-player campaign that features different item placements, different enemy placements, some brand-new enemies and enemy behaviors, and an overall greater level of challenge. Since it's free, the Hurricane Pack features enough new or changed content to make it well worth checking out by anyone who owns Ninja Gaiden. And if you don't already have an Xbox Live account, it may be well worth a subscription, because the Hurricane Pack cannot be acquired by any other means.
What's the new weapon? Is it really a completely new weapon?
The new weapon is the Lunar, a fighting staff. And, yes, it's a completely new weapon that features brand-new moves, animations, sound effects, and strategies. So, in practice, Ryu plays quite differently while equipped with this deadly staff. The Lunar may be upgraded two times at Muramasa's shop during the course of the game, and each upgrade (as with other weapon upgrades) changes the look of the weapon while granting Ryu Hayabusa access to some powerful new moves and combos. The weapon is definitely effective, because it features much of the speed and combo potential of Ninja Gaiden's nunchaku and Vigoorian flail weapons, but it has the long range of the bladed weapons. If the Lunar has a disadvantage, it's that it does tend to leave Ryu open to counterattacks in between flurries from its rapid swipes, spins, and strikes.
When do you get the Lunar? Is it the best weapon in the game?
You actually find the Lunar conspicuously located about halfway through the very first level of the game, and, unlike in the original Ninja Gaiden, you begin the Hurricane Pack not only with Ryu's Dragon Sword but also with the nunchakus already in your inventory. The Lunar has its strengths and weaknesses, so we don't think it's better or worse than most of the other weapons in the game. We do think Ninja Gaiden fans will naturally be drawn to it for novelty's sake, but we ultimately found ourselves depending on "old faithful"--the Dragon Sword. Then again, since high scores are important in the Master Ninja Tournament, and the Lunar is great for combos, we do think it will be a heavily used weapon even if it isn't strictly superior at dealing with every foe.
Any other new weapons, such as projectile ones?
No, not as far as we can tell. Incidentally, the semi-hidden windmill shuriken may still be found in the same place as before in the Hurricane Pack.
Does Ryu get any new moves or abilities?
Why, yes, he does. Though the odds are generally stacked even higher against him in the Hurricane Pack, Ryu does gain one valuable new technique right from the start: the intercept. Fighting game fans will recognize this technique as a fighting game-style guard cancel. The way it works is, if you press the left trigger to guard against an enemy attack just as the attack is about to hit you (a shimmering effect indicates when you've done this correctly), you can instantly execute a fast or heavy slash, instead of being staggered by the enemy's attack as you normally would be. This is a risky maneuver, since Ninja Gaiden's enemies strike fast and hit hard. But the reward for mastering this technique is substantial, because it allows you to quickly turn the tables on your foes. Furthermore, since the countermove's technique can no longer be found in the game's airship level and is instead only available for purchase for a high price at Muramasa's shop (more on this later), the new guard-canceling maneuver proves to be indispensable early on. It's also just a really fun, new play mechanic that makes Ninja Gaiden an even faster-paced game. Now the one relatively passive aspect of the game's combat system--defending--has a new layer of depth to it.
Additionally, Ryu may now execute an ultimate attack when you press and hold the Y button, even without absorbing any nearby essence orbs. This gives you more tactical versatility, but it's not that big of a deal. In practice, you won't often have time to charge up an ultimate attack against Ninja Gaiden's fast-moving enemies.
Read on for details about the camera, changes to the levels, the game's difficulty, the new enemies, and more.
- 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: