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Knight
06-26-2003, 10:59 AM
Ninja Gaiden: Blast from the Past
What's old and new about Tecmo's ninja-fied Xbox update.

June 23, 2003 - When Ninja Gaiden was unveiled at E3 2002, we saw the basic components of what anybody would expect from a game called Ninja Gaiden. You had identity-shrouding headgear, a super sharp sword, ninja-style moves that are both acrobatic and stealthy and plenty of punk-ass enemies waiting to get diced to pieces. Tecmo and Microsoft made their point, a damn good looking ninja game was on its way to Xbox and everybody was happy knowing it would be in their hands in the spring of 2003. Now that spring has sprung and we haven't sliced one bad guy with Ryu yet, we have no choice but to get as deep into the premises of Ninja Gaiden as possible.
It would be easy for Tecmo to cash in on this tail-end of this most recent nostalgia craze by simply slapping the name Ninja Gaiden on some third-person action game from Team Ninja. While we're all thankful Team Ninja chief Tomonobu Itagaki resisted the urge to replace Ryu Hayabusa with a bikini-clad volleyball/kung-fu kitten complete with lightning eagle boob-clab attack, there's still one burning question that remains. How much old school and new flavor will Itagaki put into his interpretation of Ninja Gaiden?

When Ninja Gaiden showed up in arcades in the late 1980s and then shortly after that on the Nintendo Entertainment System it turned conventional side-scrollers on their ears with spiffy ninjavatedTM animation and fine storytelling. The cut-scenes in the NES version were especially riveting at the time as we followed Ryu's adventures in America in the wake of his father's disappearance. Just for laughs we decided to compare what passed for high drama back then with the high-tech, big-budget story elements we get in today's videogames.

Click the pics for comparative flicks.

While the 21st century Ninja Gaiden's intro hasn't been revealed just yet, this clip from the most recent trailer for the game could easily serve the same purpose as the animated storyboard and text scenes from the original NES game. We hope you'll still be able to catch our drift.

We've all watched "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" hundreds of times and even though they were showcased with Kate Capshaw's screaming and hugging throughout, the vampire bats in that movie never exhibited the undulating flight patterns they always seem to follow in videogames. We're happy and a little frightened to report that those damn bats will be flitting and dipping about in the new Ninja Gaiden, just like they did back in the day. The end of the Cold War was great back in the late 1980s and early 1990s but, as you'll see here, the world has become a better place thanks to first-person perspective. Perfect for skewering bats with arrows.

Off the wall gameplay was a great thing in both the arcade and NES version of Ninja Gaiden and the term could be making a ferocious comeback to respectability. Playing off the wall will be an even more integral part of the gameplay in Ninja Gaiden 2003 with all of the difficult-to-reach areas and defensive and offensive moves you'll be able to pull.

IGN will have much more on Ninja Gaiden including fresh info and more media in the weeks, months and days leading up to its release this holiday season.

-- Aaron Boulding

http://xbox.ign.com/articles/425/425575p1.html