Ninja Gaiden Sigma (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £32.99 (or £39.99 for the Master Collection), Gaiden Sigma 1, 2, 3 included. Controller necessary.
Where To Get It: Steam

Ah, Ryu Hayabusa. You’ve gone through a few changes over the years. But it’s mostly been an upward trend. And Sigma is… Alright. Solid character fighter, with some good enemy designs. Although that assessment isn’t without its qualifications.

He is such a badass, he knows exactly how to hold a sword to make it glitter in your face.

In any case, Ninja Gaiden Sigma is an action game in which the aforementioned Ryu Hayabusa must recover the Demon Sword that was in his clan’s care (It’s been taken and used for evil before, after all), and to take vengeance for the murder of clan members, slashing and polesmacking and generally murdering a bunch of enemies, from other ninja clans to an authoritarian military to demons, and finally, the Big Bad. Fun stuff. And definitely controller mandatory.

Or rather, it would be fun stuff if the camera weren’t my deepest enemy, and if Triple Buffering is turned off, because otherwise the game’s framerate drastically drops.

I freely admit, I didn’t get very far in playing it, because of these very frustrations. Jumping is… Finicky, the camera can sometimes just look straight down and obscure my view of anything, as sometimes happens in character action games in confined spaces do (and there are quite a few confined spaces. Usually with enemies in them.) If there’s enemy lockon, I couldn’t find it, and so, awesome moves like the swallow blade (jump, press Y to muller somebody’s head off in a diving arc) are also finicky.

It’s actually kinda pretty, too, for something that was originally a PS3 title. Not mind blowing, but you can definitely say, at points, “Damn, this scenery, huh?” or “Hrm, that sure is a tank, wonder if it- YES, IT’S MANNED, KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT WITH FIRE.” A combo of hard buttrock and traditional Japanese music makes the soundtrack, and the sound effects… Well, those feel a little older than they maybe should, but hey, not everything has to be awesome.

Why yes, I would like to juggle you to death, thank you for being co-operative with that!

Still, from what I’m aware, it has some frankly baffling level design decisions at some points. Okay, yes, you, uhh… Don’t have much of a move set underwater, Ryu. So why did they put you through a swimming level, mmm? Or the labyrinthines sewer level, just a bit earlier.

Look… Look… People. Hate. Sewer Levels. They’ve hated them since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES. Also, the subtitles I saw were missing about half the time, which is a problem (both accessibility wise and generally), and the easy difficulty mode is only unlocked by dying a whole bunch… So, definitely a mixed bag, even today.

To be honest, Ninja Gaiden Sigma’s gameplay, janky as it is at times, is a peanut butter situation. If you’re not a longtime “Make combo and guard to kill enemy, use different weapon which do different thing for different folks” type player, this definitely isn’t an intro level game, and it likely won’t appeal that much.

The Mad Welshman is, on the one hand, not a fan of peanut butter. They are a fan of character action games, even if they are not the best at them.

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