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Ninja Gaiden II on Game and Player

Ninja Gaiden II

Matthew Theroux  //  June 11, 2008

You'll get past the flaws if you like a good fight.


our years ago the Ninja Gaiden franchise was brought back to high acclaim. It featured a blistering level of difficulty that felt only too familiar to old school gamers, and had a level of graphical detail typical of the high standard that we have come to expect from Tecmo's Team Ninja. While good, this sequel — Ninja Gaiden II — doesn't quite live up to those standards.

For those not familiar with the story, the game picks up a year after the 2004 Ninja Gaiden game, in which a CIA agent named Sonja is looking for Ryu Hayabusa. After the quick introduction, ninjas from the Spider Clan capture Sonja. Ryu appears to give chase. Upon rescue, Sonja tells Ryu that the Spider Clan is trying to resurrect the Arch Fiend. The rest of the game is spent fighting off an army of fiends to stop the Arch Fiend and save the world.

Variety keeps combat exciting.
Compared to its predecessor, Ninja Gaiden II fails in several areas. The first is in level design. Levels are very linear, and simply consist of moving from battle to battle. The aspect of exploration that was in the last game is now gone — you travel to various locations as you progress through the game. While this does provide an opportunity to see some very elaborate and visually pleasing locals the trade off is that you lose the ability to backtrack.

Another weak area for Ninja Gaiden is its music. Several pieces are taken straight from the previous game. Just a few, but it's disappointing. New compositions are not particularly exciting. I never found myself enjoying them on any kind of level; they served more the point of filler, having something playing as opposed to nothing at all.

The game did not receive the proper amount of polish that it should have. The story is not very well fleshed out. Most of the story occurs at the start of each chapter where we are given a written excerpt of what is going to happen in that chapter. This is neither original nor engaging, made worse by a very weak story in general. There are constant periods when the game will freeze while it loads in the new area. This wouldn't be that big of an issue if these loading times didn't occur during battles. While not prevalent they're common enough. I managed to find a large bug in which a particularly annoying boss disappeared, after which the camera started to zoom outside the level. Attention to detail isn't that of previous Team Ninja games. The cause could be related to Itagaki's departure from Team Ninja, but really, who knows?

In spite of these weak points the game is fun to play, largely due to combat. There are a wide variety of enemies to fight, each enemy with its own way of fighting, giving players reason to find and work out patterns of attack. Weapons are also a big part of combat. Each weapon feels unique and imparts its own fighting style. This ensures that combat never ends up becoming stale for the player — there is always a way to change things up.

Mystery surrounding ninja weapons
is removed. So are limbs.
Ninja Gaiden II really bumps up the graphics and detail. Everything looks spectacular. The big addition to the game is your ability to dismember your opponents in a bloody fashion. This is not just for looks: enemies who have lost a limb are actually more dangerous, which really can change your battle plans in a hurry. Team Ninja was also able to improve the game other in some ways, such as the game's regenerative system: after you finish off a fight, you regain a little health. Save points will heal you the first time you use them.

Of course, these measures of assistance are merely an attempt to make the player think that they have a chance. Ninja Gaiden is still h-a-r-d. It is not a matter of if you die, but when. For those looking for more, the Valor Challenges up the ante, placing Ryu in a small arena with a horde of baddies. There is a reward given to the player for going through these extra challenges, so it's a shame that they are only available by playing through the main game.

Get past the flaws and Ninja Gaiden II is still a worthwhile game, particularly if you enjoy a good old-school fight.

Ninja Gaiden II



Team Ninja


Microsoft Game Studios

NA Release

June 3, 2008


Play Mode

ESRB Rating

In Favor

  • Graphics are extremely detailed
  • Plenty of variety in combat


  • Troublesome camera
  • Story is severely lacking
  • Loading issues during fights

G&P Rating

Articles by Matthew Theroux

July 29, 2009

G&P Latest

July 1, 2011

June 28, 2011

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