If you have been waiting for a company outside of Nintendo to make an innovative, stylish game using the unique DS stylus, then Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword is for you. The Ninja Gaiden series has been famous for its speed, multiple enemies and stylish attacks – Temco has again managed to pull that off on the DS with just the stylus.
When first playing Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword, you will notice that the DS will have to be put on its side like the brain training series. The touch screen is for the main gameplay and the top screen is for the maps and items.
The gameplay is by far the best feature in this game. You control Ryu, the main character, by pointing and sliding on the touch screen to an area you wish to go to. To run you simply point the stylus further away from Ryu and to jump you flick the stylus upwards. When in combat you point the stylus at an enemy and quickly flick it in the direction that you want to sword to swipe. Pointing and tapping at an enemy allows Ryu to throw shuriken or shoot your bow.
This may sound like a very simple control system and it is. When playing though it is very responsive. However, rest assured that the combat does have depth to it. For instance Ryu could be surrounded by five enemies – You can swipe one enemy on the right side of the screen, flick the slider up to jump in order to avoid being attacked by another enemy, while tapping shuriken towards someone further away, then sliding the stylus down to slam on top of whoever unfortunately happens to be under Ryu.
Scribbling on the screen charges Ryu up to carry out more powerful attacks. This way, you avoid scratching the whole screen rapidly to hopefully attack everyone. This is the DS equivalent to a button basher!
Every button on the DS is used for blocking including the D-pad. Blocking in such a fast paced game can seem useless at the beginning, but in the later stages you need to maintain control of Ryu as the enemies are a lot smarter and less vulnerable to your attacks. As you progress through the game you collect items, power ups and eventually work your way up to gaining Ninbo magic, enabling Ryu to cast balls of fire, lightning strike etc, to add to the combat.
If you are a fan of the Ninja Gaiden series then the only criticism you should have when playing the game is its difficulty levels. Compared to the Xbox and Playstation versions, this seems a little easier. The whole game can be finished in less than eight hours and the majority of the difficulty is in the ‘game’ battles and puzzles rather than the ‘boss’ battles. However, there is a harder mode, which can be unlocked once you have battled through the game once.
Graphically and technically the game is amazing. All the characters are in real-time 3D polygons. The animation is smooth and the visual effects suit the game’s fast paced action. The only downside to the game’s visuals was the backgrounds. They were all in 2D, similar to the early Resident Evil series of games. Although, it is fairly clear that the designers have worked towards creating backgrounds that are visually appealing, one can’t help but wonder what the whole game would have looked like in 3D. For example, the boss battles in a full 3D environment would have no slowdowns whatsoever and would look stunning. Maybe something the developers need to consider if they are to make a sequel to the DS series.
Overall, Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword has been produced well. The game is a true example of what companies can do with the innovative Nintendo DS. In my opinion, the game is brilliant, fun and visually amazing to watch when playing. Its intense action will certainly keep you glued to the DS for hours and has enough ‘unlockables’ to keep you wanting to go through it all again and again, definitely one of the!