Diminutive doesn't always equal disappointing, even when you've got a bigger older brother that's already impressed a lot of people. Fantastic as Ninja Gaiden Sigma might be, it's not portable, and so Dragon Sword was created to appease the series' on-the-go fans worldwide. More than a mere cash-in, it should also attract players who haven't met Ryu Hayabusa before.
On a system that's well-known for brain training and kid-friendly titles, Dragon Sword provides an action-packed change of pace. While you're playing it, the DS is held sideways, like a book, and for more than gameplay purposes. Back in the late 80s, when the series first came home, arcade-goers and critics alike praised its cinematic cutscenes. Dragon Sword utilizes both DS screens to bring back its old-school means of progressing the storyline in flashy, modern style, and here's to hoping that its tale is as gripping as the original (at E for All, the show floor demo wasn't translated).
The lush, in-game graphics were just as beautifully done, and lack of English in mind, it was completely playable. A lot of DS owners aren't so sure about stylus-only titles, which might put them on the fence when considering Dragon Sword. Ryu is controlled via on-screen taps, slashes, and drags, and Tecmo has implemented a fairly spot-on control scheme to go with that. As with any touch screen title, it isn't perfect, but it's superior to most third party attempts in terms of accuracy.
When it comes to the enjoyment factor, Dragon Sword is hit and miss. As in its console brethren, you're tasked with dispatching foes who come charging at you, or try to attack from afar. They present a reasonable challenge, and they're quick to do it. Ryu can attack at a similar speed, but the control scheme requirements can limit your mobility.
Since players have to hold the stylus on the part of the screen they want to move to, they can't do anything else in the meantime. This would be unbearable if Ryu didn't jump quickly, and giving nearly every button on the system the block function helps. Still, it's proof-positive that stylus maneuverability can't out-perform a traditional configuration, but it's nonetheless well-done.
If rough-and-tumble action's your thing, and you've got a DS, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword is shaping up to be the right kind of game for you. As of this writing, you've got plenty of time to practice whipping your stylus across the screen without letting your hand get in the way; Tecmo has yet to announce an official release date.