Few games for the original Nintendo system, outside of its
established franchises, are as fondly remembered as “Ninja
Gaiden” and its two sequels. Tecmo, the makers of the series,
have basically left the classic saga dormant since consoles
evolved. Although Ryu Hayabusa, the main character, appeared in the
“Dead or Alive” fighting games, “Ninja
Gaiden” had yet to grace any of the next generation systems
— until now. “Gaiden” is back and has become the
best action game available today.

The spiritual successor to the originals, “Gaiden”
takes the franchise into a fully 3-D world. Gamers control Ryu as
he attempts to recover an ancient sword stolen from his family.
This adventure takes players into a diverse array of levels —
some evoke feelings of feudal Japan, while others bring the game
into a futuristic metropolis. Complimenting the setting is a wide
assortment of weapons, ranging from swords to nunchuks.

The game unfolds into different chapters, each with at least one
boss character. Hearkening back to old-school action games, boss
battles are epic and unfold in a theatrical manner.

Controlling the game is a breeze. Ryu runs across walls, fights
off hordes of enemies and solves puzzles, all with the controls
respond perfectly. Every weapon, spell and counter attack works,
even under the most dire of circumstances.

The lush and expansive graphics blow away any competition on the
XBox. Ryu moves fluidly and with the grace expected of a deadly
ninja. Blood gushes out of foes and heads roll as Ryu slices and
dices the demonic ninjas that challenge him. The character design
and individual animations all feature painstaking detail. Even the
most basic foot soldier has multiple attack methods.

Despite minor technical glitches, “Ninja Gaiden” is
a forceful, dynamic game that certainly redefines the action genre
for a whole new generation of fans.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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