Saturday, May 14, 2011

Six good reasons why Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos needs a remake


We've already investigated what would make the next Ninja Gaiden awesome, but what about the one after that? Curse us for thinking ahead, but everybody knows the Ninja Gaiden franchise isn't even close to being finished. What does the future hold for this blood-soaked jewel? I'm not quite sure, but recreating 1990's Dark Sword of Chaos of NES fame would be a start.

Back in the day, when wireless devices were considered black magic demonry and controllers only had two main buttons, Ninja Gaiden was something of an anomaly. It was one of the first real games to include cut-scenes to tell its story and, besides being frustrating as all hell, it was quite a lot of fun to play. When the second game sprung up, it enhanced practically everything and gave us some of the more memorable abilities, monsters, and music Ninja Gaiden is known for today. Basically, The Dark Sword of Chaos is the definitive old-school Ninja Gaiden, and if you had to choose one title to represent the pinnacle of the series - this would be it. Here are six reasons why it's worth a remake.


1: Dude, the music

The soundtrack to Ninja Gaiden II is magical. Whether you're traversing an arid wasteland or wading through a cliffside deluge, there isn't a single song that fails to delight. We've seen remakes get themselves some beefy remix tracks (Bionic Commando Rearmed, et al), so why not throw the best of the best in there? The Xbox Ninja Gaiden certainly had some environmentally acceptable tunes, but nothing comes even close to touching the Parasprinter. No, you don't get it - listen right now.



2: Insane special abilities




With cut-scenes like this, who the hell needs BioWare?
Not that the contemporary Ninja Gaiden moves aren't insane, but what we were given in that retro setting was akin to finding a million dollars in your lunch pail. Throwing down a giant ninja star and having it slice back and forth through your enemies (so long as it didn't touch you again) was something of an art. Having the rising fire move was basically a necessity in areas with flying enemies. Picking up those orange shadow dudes was also requisite in the latter parts of the game, since they could mimic all of your specials. Even the downward fireball was pleasing when enemies simply popped as its flames burnt through their pixelated hopes and dreams. Don't get me wrong, the new abilities are all fine and good, but the "umph" factor of the old-school specials cannot be denied.



3: Climbing the damned walls

How many times have you died in the newer Ninja Gaiden games because of a wall? Maybe it misplaced your jump, maybe it screwed up your camera, but in Dark Sword it did none of those things (probably because it was 2D, but whatever). It's hard to believe, but the ability to move up and down walls at will was revolutionary back then. Why can't Ryu do that now? He just runs up for a short length and then gives up if there's nowhere to go. Come on Tecmo, you have us slicing apart cyborg dinosaur ninjas - make some sense for once.


4: Combat, environments, etc




Look at that expert wall climbing! Bam said the lady!
Ninja Gaiden can have some pretty brutal combat and often impossible-looking scenarios. It's all certainly intimidating, especially when you get an incendiary shuriken right to your spinal cord as you're fighting some kind of fiend. The fights in the retro games aren't pushovers themselves, but at least it feels like you have more control of the outcome (and no camera issues). Having the ability to go anywhere and everywhere in the new titles works for the way the game is designed, but that euphoric feeling of slaying a dude jumping you because he had nowhere else to go is unparalleled. Just look at a game like Shadow Complex - the environments are varied, combat is solid, and it's all on the timeless 2D plane. See Tecmo? You can still be creative with your fights, but I'll be damned if I have to fight those stupid harpies again. Speaking of which...



5: Enemies




This might not look like much, but I assure you that the guy in red is going to kick Ryu's ninja ass.
Harpies. I hate those things. If retro Ninja Gaiden taught me anything it'd be my unlimited malevolence toward these foul creatures. Always there to knock you off into an abyss of doom. The Harpy is evil. Still, Harpies are the least of your worries when you're talking Black Spider Clan. Flipping and dodging, then attacking with unprecedented violence, these bastards ruin your nights. Dark corner over by the building you need to get to? You can bet you'll press continue at least once before you walk by. Alright, there were still ninjas that jumped miles up out of the friggin' void in retro Gaiden (seriously, where the hell did they come from?!), but you at least could see them coming. Kinda.



6: Bosses

The final enemies of each stage in Dark Sword were not to be trifled with. When a friend came waltzing into your room, you simply had to ignore him completely in order to have the full concentration needed to defeat a boss. Not much has changed with the new games in this regard, but retro Gaiden does contain more noteworthy targets. Ashtar, the Emperor of Darkness is some weird, purple, armoured behemoth that reeks of bad-ass. There are tons of awesome looking models in the newer games, but having something so sinister yet simple in design as Ashtar had much more of an impact on the players. Also, there was a flying cyborg troll guy named Funky Dynamite. I kid you not - he was awesome.




"A lizard mutant creature encased in cybernetic armor and equipment." Incredible.
I'm still torn on whether I'd prefer a 3D iteration of Dark Sword or an improved 2D throwback. On one hand the series has already progressed with the other games into the 3D realm, so doing another 3D title would be nothing new. Regardless, I'd be fine with either choice. Tecmo and their newfound business affiliate Koei just need to piece the rest together and they'll have a recipe for success. I mean, who wouldn't want to play this master piece re-envisioned?

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