Ninja Gaiden Volume 1: Destiny Preview

The ninja classic is on its way to US phones, and we get an early look at a Japanese version.

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Ninjas and video games were made for one another. Their torrid affair has now lasted almost two decades--it's not just a summer thing.

You'll soon be able to replay their honeymoon on your phone. Don't think you'll be relaxing on Caribbean beaches, though. This post-nuptial outing features none other than Ryu Hayabusa, a.k.a. "The Super Ninja," kicking the snot out of hordes of hapless, anonymous henchmen. Yes, that's right: Ninja Gaiden, the seminal NES classic has gone mobile; and the result is shaping up to be a solid port that captures the fun, frenetic swordplay of the original.

For series veterans, there's nothing new here. The upswing of that is the fact that Ninja Gaiden is almost a console-perfect port. You climb walls, slash baddies and wreck havoc with Ninjitsu magic--just like in the original. The graphics and sound (on our J-Phone preview version at least) seem on par with the NES version that so entranced us all.

My concerns for the US release are twofold. Firstly, the Japanese version I previewed has some control issues. The keypad is not always responsive enough to change Ryu's direction on the fly (for example, hitting a guy to your left, and then throwing a ninja star at a baddie on your right). I am skeptical that this issue will be fixed before the title hits US shores. Secondly, I shudder with fear at the AV quality loss which could result from the port to our generally inferior US handsets. We're catching up, but the hardware available in Tokyo is still a good 18 months ahead of ours. Tune into WGR to see how the stateside release shapes up.

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