TWiG 2008-06-02: The Ninja Returns!

[2 June 2008]

By Mike Schiller

A surprisingly busy release week (albeit one chock full of cross-platform movie adaptations) is giving way to a couple of firsts here at TWiG.

The first, uh, first is that this marks the first time that a given franchise has managed to snag the featured spot in The Week in Games twice.  That’s right, way back in the very first edition of The Week in Games, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword looked like the game to beat; this week, it’s Ninja Gaiden II, for the Xbox 360.  Let’s face it—a lot of us grew up on Mortal Kombat, living for the fatalities and the location-specific kills that the game introduced us to, inspiring arguments regarding which, of all of the kills in the game, was the coolest (read: bloodiest).  As much as we might purport to be above such base desires now, there’s still something appealing about a game that doesn’t just include blood as some means to an end of gritty realism, but revels in it, putting gushing fountains of red liquid where mere arteries should be.  My nearest point of reference would be Kill Bill for the style of the bloodletting going on here, though I’m sure you can point me toward obscure Japanese films that would be closer to the truth of the inspiration.

If Ninja Gaiden II were only about the blood, though, it wouldn’t be worth highlighting.  No, the other thing about the reborn Ninja Gaiden series is the way it preserves an old-school level of challenge to the player.  For those who can appreciate a good challenge (that is, things that are freaking hard), it’s refreshing to see that the franchise’s transition to 3D hasn’t brought with it a softening of the controller throwing, profanity-spewing, rage-inducing difficulty that so loudly marked its NES predecessors.  I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on the thing.

As for the other first, this is the first time that a single game has had a release that spans the entire gamut of current gaming systems.  From PS3 to the PC right down to the Nintendo DS, Lego Indiana Jones is making his debut this week.  If you aren’t looking forward to being chased by a giant Lego boulder and seeing how they handle the heart-ripping scene in Temple of Doom in a game aimed at kids, well, I don’t know you.

Otherwise, we have a whole pile of other movie-themed fodder (hello, Kung Fu Panda), GRID, which looks like a seriously fun bit of racing once you get past the drab visuals, and PC Mystery/Adventure fans who don’t mind a gothic bent in their gaming might find something to love in Dracula Origin.  For the first week of June, honestly, this is a hell of a release list.

The full list of games and a short trailer for Ninja Gaiden II is AFTER the JUMP:

Xbox 360:

GRID (03 June)
Kung Fu Panda (03 June)
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (03 June)
Ninja Gaiden II (03 June)
Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy (03 June)
Roogoo (04 June, Xbox Live Arcade)
The Incredible Hulk (05 June)


Wii:

Kung Fu Panda (03 June)
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (03 June)
The Incredible Hulk (05 June)


PS3:

Fatal Inertia EX (03 June)
GRID (03 June)
Kung Fu Panda (03 June)
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (03 June)
Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy (03 June)
The Incredible Hulk (05 June)


PSP:

Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 (03 June)
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (03 June)


PS2:

Kung Fu Panda (03 June)
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (03 June)
The Incredible Hulk (05 June)


DS:

Kung Fu Panda (03 June)
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (03 June)
Summon Night: Twin Age (03 June)
The Incredible Hulk (05 June)


PC:

Dracula: Origin (02 June)
Stronghold Crusader Extreme (02 June)
GRID (03 June)
Kung Fu Panda (03 June)
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (03 June)
Total Extreme Wrestling 2008 (08 June)

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/twig-2008-06-02-the-ninja-returns/