Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2

The ? Factor

Psst! The ? in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 stands for boobs. Wait, no, sorry. Huge boobs. Lot of 'em.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: October 11, 2009
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There are two ways of looking at Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and neither of them are as reverent and near-universally praising as the original Sigma. For those not yet privy to the whole backstory of Tecmo's ninja gorefest (well, kinda, but we'll get to that in a second), the Sigma denotes something of a "director's cut" -- except the director in this case is someone that wasn't on the original project and they ran around adding a bunch of stuff for the PlayStation 3 version. All you really need to know is that the Sigma games arrive a little later than the formerly Xbox-exclusive versions and come packed with a bunch of tweaks, updates and additional content.

Sounds like a great deal, right? That'd be the most positive way to look at things, and indeed Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is packed with more to do than the vanilla original release -- something that could, conceivably, be considered a best-of offering of the same game... just a bit later. The other, far more cynical way to look at thing is to see a game that's had the jiggly boob quotient quadrupled, the blood stripped out, the difficulty lessened and some of the same glaringly obvious problems from the original Ninja Gaiden 2 left essentially untouched. The result is something that is, without question, more than the whole of the original release, yet struggles to feel tweaked enough to warrant the "definitive" title that most felt the original Sigma captured so well, though it's certainly debatable.

So is it better? Again, that's something that will come down to just how much cynicism bubbles up, but for someone who still loves the series, the addition of four gigantic boobs was pretty much reason enough for me to get on board. The fact that online multiplayer modes, additional characters, more levels and a difficulty that at least welcomes newcomers without punishing them from the outset were all added is really just icing on my sad, pervy cake. There's no denying that some of the biggest complaints from the original release have been tweaked or outright removed, making for an experience that's far less frustrating, speedier, and meatier than before.

The mysterious decision to all but eliminate the copious amounts of bloodletting that existed in the first game may prove, however, to be a bit more distracting to some. The game's still rated M, lead ass kicker Ryu Hayabusa still has the animation to fling blood off his sword even without any being there, and limbs are still cleaved from bodies constantly, so why the decision to nix the blood and replace it with wisps of purple smoke? Along with punishing difficulty and hilariously top-heavy female cohorts, the Ninja Gaiden series has become synonymous with excess gore -- the bloodbath is part of the attraction, for good or ill, and the removal of it feels like things were trimmed where they didn't need to be yet not enough instances of enemies flinging crap at you from off screen were touched (though it's certainly better).

That's seriously over-generalizing the changes that were made to Sigma 2, of course, and left as that it would be wholly unfair to condemn the tweaks without mentioning how some of the other cheap deaths, on-water combat and mind-numbing backtracking (made even more tedious with pointless puzzles) have been lopped off like so many enemy ninja limbs. Things have also improved a bit in terms of the camera, which seemed absolutely determined to screw with you during the most intense fights, and now can be re-snapped behind Ryu or new playable characters Momiji and Ayane (and the returning Rachel, of course) -- both of which are varied and well-designed enough from Ryu to feel like genuine additions rather than simple re-skins. They actually play completely differently from Ryu, offering new striking distances, attack animations that change timing and strategy for enemy duels and are a genuine source of added play value.

All the trimmed level excess was mashed together and re-sculpted into two new levels for the girls sprinkled in at about the 1/4 and 1/2 points throughout the 17 chapter main story. And while some bosses have been tweaked (the Daedalus armadillo boss' death knell no longer insta-kills you, a source of unbelievable bullshit in the original release), and a few have been added, though they're not consistently entertaining or overly creative.
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