Ninja Gaiden Impressions

Tecmo gives a presentation of the latest game in the Ninja Gaiden series.


Ninja Gaiden (2004)

Tecmo was demonstrating a playable version of Ninja Gaiden in the Xbox arena over at the Microsoft E3 booth. The demo began with Ryu Hayabusa walking through the sewers, only to be suddenly attacked by the fire-headed demons shown in the original trailer for the game. Ryu was able to defeat these enemies with a few quick swipes of his sword before moving onto the next area--a massive room that had been partially flooded. The water effects in this particular portion of the demo looked quite good, and as Ryu made his way to the other side of the room, the water reacted to his movements.

Interestingly, this area also seemed to demonstrate the way you will be rewarded if you take the time look around the environment. After the camera was switched to a first-person perspective, Ryu looked up and found a room that seemingly looked impossible to get into. But after switching back into the third-person, Ryu quickly ran to the wall and then walked up the wall for a few steps before making a small leap to grab a ledge. Ryu then shimmied over to the small room and unlocked a chest that had a pair of nunchaku inside. The nunchaku were obviously much faster than Ryu's sword, but they did a little less damage, as was shown when he began attacking additional groups of the aforementioned demons.

Those weren’t the only weapons Ryu could use in the demo. Later on, he found a bow and some arrows, which seemed to be particularly useful against bats or the generally weaker enemies. In addition, Ryu was also able to use shuriken and some particular impressive ninja magic. One of the spells, in fact, showed Ryu charging up his energy before releasing a massive fireball that damaged everything in its path. Ryu also had an aerial throw maneuver and some other aerial attacks that he could use in conjunction with his equipped weapon.

As you might suspect, Ryu is a pretty agile individual, which is probably a good thing, since some of the obstacles in the game have been tied directly to his abilities. For example, in one portion of the demo, Ryu had to make his way across an enormous gap by walking sideways on a nearby wall. In another part, Ryu spun around a small tree branch a few times to build up enough momentum to flip to a nearby platform.

Perhaps the most interesting moment in the demo occurred at the very end, when an enormous dragonlike skeleton boss detached itself from the wall and started slinking down toward Ryu. Just to give youan idea of how big this boss actually is, Ryu was about the size of its mouth. Unfortunately, the demo ended there, so we didn't get a chance to see how Ryu would tackle such a monstrous foe.

Ninja Gaiden is a visually stunning game. Ryu, the enemies, and the environments all look quite good, and the game moves at a really brisk pace. The only problem at this moment appears to be the number of enemies that are actually capable of appearing onscreen at once. Of course, that was only in the demo, and it remains to be seen just how hectic the action will get in other parts of the game. Ninja Gaiden is scheduled for release later this year.

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