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DS Fanboy Review: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Click for more screens from Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

As you can imagine, many were worried when Itagaki showed off the DS entry in his beloved Ninja Gaiden series. Would the groundbreaking new control scheme set the bar for action games on the system or would it be an unresponsive and unrefined mess, causing you to contemplate throwing your DS against the wall? Well, I'm happy to report that none of these fears ever pan out in Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, which is a pretty great game overall.

It turns out, the game is pretty much everything we hoped it would be: a benchmark for how to do an action game on the DS and how other developers can create a great DS entry in their own respective franchises.

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Continue reading DS Fanboy Review: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Ubisoft flips out and releases Ninja Gaiden in Europe

Ubisoft has signed on to publish Team Ninja's Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword in Europe this June. This is good news for Europe, and bad news for Naruto, who has just lost the title of coolest ninja in Ubisoft's lineup.

We don't yet know how Dragon Sword has fared in the American retail market, but it arrived in Japanese stores silently, escaping the attention of pretty much the whole DS audience (not the ideal time to be silent and unnoticed). Will Europe be more attuned to the arrival of a deadly ninja? Maybe Ubisoft will step on a branch or something.

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Joystiq on-hand at the Dragon Sword launch

Andrew Yoon, who you may know from Joystiq and enemy blogs PSP and PS3 Fanboy, has the benefit of being able to attend launch parties at the Nintendo World Store in New York city. This comes as a perk of living in New York, because for us to attend the Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword launch event, we'd have to hitchhike with strangers and probably ride a mythical beast or two.

For all of the juicy pictures from the event, including the game's development director, Yosuke Hayashi, hit up the gallery below.

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword launch

Team Ninja on Ninja Gaiden accusations: 'Media shouldn't assume'

A few days after a Japanese television network attempted to link Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword with the deadly rampage of 24-year-old Masahiro Kanagawa, Team Ninja's Yosuke Hayashi has criticized the Japanese media for "making assumptions" about the game's involvement in the tragedy. A copy of the title was found in Kanagawa's bag when he was arrested.

Speaking through a translator, Hayashi argued that the media "should not be the ones answering the questions or defining the reasons why this incident happened," yet was keen to point out that he wasn't defending either Team Ninja or Ninja Gaiden. "That's just my message from me to the media," he said, adding, "The media can report on these tragedies but they shouldn't just assume or lead into a question that doesn't have a definitive answer."

Entirely wise sentiments, of course, but we fear that they'll have little impact, at least while idle sensationalism sells newspapers and bumps ratings. This one could run and run, folks.

WRUP: Silent like ninja edition

This week's main attraction is none other than Team Ninja's handheld entry in their franchise, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword. Sure, other games released this week, too, but we're not too concerned with those. Oh no, we're just anxious to unsheathe our stylus and cut foes asunder. Surely, that isn't a feeling we alone possess?

What will you all be playing this weekend? Ninja Gaiden, like us? Or some other game (or games)?

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Ninja Gaiden: Depressing Scapegoat

Poor old Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword isn't having the best of times in Japan right now. Having shifted a criminally low 4,000 units in its first day on sale, the game is now having the crusty finger of blame pointed in its direction over a high-profile murder in the country. On March 19th, 24-year-old suspect Masahiro Kanagawa went on a horrific stabbing spree through his home town of Tsuchiura, killing one 27-year-old man, and wounding eight others.

We obviously can't explain what motivated Kanagawa, so hey, thank goodness for the news media, which has already nailed down the root cause of this young man's madness -- and it's all to do with that evil Ninja Gaiden game! Take that, professional psychologists and behavioral experts!

The above screenshot, captured by the My Games News Flash blog, was taken from a report by Japanese network Fuji TV. The blue and white text at the bottom knowingly points out that Kanagawa was arrested with a copy of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword nestling at the bottom of his bag, implying that its presence there was somehow deeply meaningful. You'll all recognize the image, of course.

We seriously don't know what's more depressing about this: Fuji TV's gross over-simplification of what is a complex catastrophe, or the fact that this kind of lazy scapegoating passes as journalism pretty much anywhere in the world. Can we not all just move to the Moon or something? I call shotgun.

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

[Via Kotaku]

Team Ninja to award high-scoring ninjas with branded iPod

Ninja dogs need not apply. This sweet 8gb iPod Nano you're feasting your eyes on will only be attainable by the most skilled assassins in Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword. Of course, this is all based on machine translation, so you'll have to forgive us some misinterpretation.

It appears that there will be three different ways that folks can enter for their chance at the Nano. For one, there looks to be a specific difficulty setting that will apply to this giveaway, meaning that players who partake in the game while in this difficulty setting can upload their high score for entry. Second, players can collect certain in-game prizes (or tokens, we're assuming). Third, there's an online survey that can be filled out.

Seems fairly easy to us, and there will be a total of 15 Nanos up for grabs. The contest period began on March 21st and ends on April 16th. Again, we're not certain this applies to folks outside of Japan, so keep that in mind.

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

DS Daily: Hopes regarding a certain ninja

Personally, we can't wait for next week, as it sees the release of Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword, the stylus-driven entry in Itagaki's ninjatastic franchise. We're really hoping that the game will help validate other entries in more established franchises on the handheld.

Are you all as excited for this game as we are? Did you read some of the reviews and decide for or against the game? Are you as hopeful as we are that the handheld might start seeing some solid 3D action titles now?

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword struts its stuff

For what it reportedly lacks in longevity, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword makes up for in sheer beauty. As you watch these five new videos, it's almost possible to hear the DS hardware straining under the demands of it all, begging for the pain to stop. Hardly surprising, for some of the graphical tricks on display here are genuinely excellent, with the fire effects in the Cavern of Flame (see: the first video after the break) a highlight.

While most of this footage simply shows off different stages of the game, we should warn you that the fifth and final video could be considered a spoiler of sorts, as it reveals the return of a series veteran (who, it saddens us to say, has perhaps the tamest evil cackle we've ever heard).

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Continue reading Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword struts its stuff

A barrage of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword videos

What impresses us the most about Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword isn't necessarily that it looks so amazing, or that it is such a rare genre for the DS. We are just so damn fascinated by the idea that Team Ninja could take a fantastically different control scheme with just one analog input and one (functional) button, and map pretty much the entirety of the Xbox Ninja Gaiden moveset to it.

With the stylus, the experience is completely different, but it's still undeniably Ninja Gaiden. And that is clever. Would you know from looking at these videos that the game was being controlled by dragging? Doesn't it look pretty much like any other modern action game in motion?

Continue reading A barrage of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword videos

Metareview: Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

Team Ninja's latest release is quite uncharacteristic: they've always been interested in pushing the capabilities of the hardware they work on, but this usually manifests as high-end graphics on high-end consoles. For the newest Ninja Gaiden game, they strayed from this tactic and made an original DS game instead. It still aims to innovate with the use of stylus controls for fast action.

Did the experiment work? Is an action game on the DS possible? Is Dragon Sword a Ninja Dog or a Master Ninja? The reviews are very positive, though there is a near universal disappointment at the game's length and difficulty.

Electronic Gaming Monthly -- 86% (A-): Shane Bettenhausen offers praise of the control scheme, basically: "Sure, these fluid controls feel awfully forgiving, but that's cool by me -- with little effort, you'll feel like an agile, ass-kicking superninja."

IGN -- 86%: IGN's Craig Harris may not see the controls as a permanent replacement, but at least finds them fun: "Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword kicks a whole lot of butt on the Nintendo DS. Visually, the game's a stunner, and the action is intense and almost non-stop. I don't think the game makes the ultimate case for touch-screen exclusive control in action games, and I certainly don't think stylus control is better than traditional control for the Ninja Gaiden design. But what Team Ninja created for the Nintendo DS definitely works in turning something traditional into something different and unique without forgetting about the fun, too."

Nintendo Power -- 85%: Nintendo's official magazine echoes the length issue, but approves of the game itself: "At approximately five hours, Dragon Sword is a bit on the short side, but I have a tough time complaining when those five hours are so tight and extremely polished." [Excerpt found at Metacritic]

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Get pumped for Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

Get ready -- Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword is finally set for release this month. We're still sad about that whole November debacle, but hey -- the wait is almost over, and for those of you who didn't (or couldn't) get your hands on the demo at a download station, it's now available in convenient video format embedded above. If you want the full experience, try scribbling over your monitor with your stylus while it plays, but don't blame us for any damage. Sure, model Momoko Tani is playing it instead of you, but exercise your imagination here. Do we have to do everything for you?

See also: 2008's Biggest Blips -- Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

GDC08: Hands-on with Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

Nintendo was also offering a playable demo of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword at their GDC booth, which I totally flipped out and killed played for a few intense minutes. It wasn't too intense, because the game started me in a tutorial stage. It took me through the basic controls (slash enemies to attack, slash up to jump, push any button to block, tap to throw shuriken) and started very slowly meting out enemies on which I could practice. I tried to download the demo, but there was already a queue.

I'm not even sure I was playing on a regular DS, or if Tecmo has created some kind of new dual-screened system that is appropriate for action games. It was just right. It certainly wasn't natural at first to play something like Ninja Gaiden with the stylus, but understanding set in very quickly. What felt at first like randomly stabbing at my screen quickly became strategic. It's actually significantly easier to target enemies directly (by drawing on them) than it is to juggle multiple enemies with a joystick.

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Continue reading GDC08: Hands-on with Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

Direct-feed Ninja Gaiden screens are impossible to ignore

We're not generally in the habit of reposting screenshots that have already appeared elsewhere on the blog, but when Famitsu put up these direct-feed shots of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Swords, they were just too damn purdy to ignore.

They're a heck of a lot cleaner than those in last Friday's scans, and all eight are waiting for you after the break. Go Ninja, go!

See also: 2008's Biggest Blips -- Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Swords

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Continue reading Direct-feed Ninja Gaiden screens are impossible to ignore

More Ninja Gaiden scan action

Click image to enlarge

For those of you who're as excited for Team Ninja's upcoming DS entry in the Ninja Gaiden series, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, as we are, feast your eyes on some fresh scans from Famitsu. It looks like the focus here is on stylus controls and how players will execute everything through the touch screen, from the mundane regular attack to the destructive special attack.

Head past the break for the second scan.

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

Continue reading More Ninja Gaiden scan action

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