It's easy to spot someone who's been playing too much Ninja Gaiden Black. They often cringe or jump at loud noises -- maybe they somersault when entering a room, or you might even see them storing food in their pockets, claiming they're saving it "just in case". The only way to avoid this "Gaiden" disease is simple: Don't play it. If you ignore this warning, and pick up the controller, you risk infection as well. The only cure is to square your shoulders, buckle in, and make your way through one of the finest games ever released.
A Legend is (Re)Born
When Ryu Hayabusa first appeared on the Xbox, he received a staggering amount of praise and critical acclaim. Ninja Gaiden, heralded as a nearly flawless game, featured some of the finest graphics, tightest controls, and stunning gameplay ever seen. Another thing mentioned, in every critique of Ninja Gaiden, was the game's unprecedented difficulty. This wasn't a typical hard game. It wasn't poor A.I., badly designed levels, or an awful save system that challenged Gaiden players. Here, players have no excuses, no game related elements to blame. This game demands every aspect of your abilities be honed to perfection.
By all accounts, Ninja Gaiden was a success. Team Ninja offered Hurricane Packs 1 and 2 via Xbox Live, which remedied the default camera problem (you now have a little control over the camera), and added new content to the game. The most obvious complaint, the games difficulty, was never addressed, until now.
Reissues of popular games, whether for another system or just a remix, are becoming more common. Metal Gear, Resident Evil, and even the Mario games have all had some work done, giving Ninja Gaiden a facelift seemed an obvious move. Not only would the new "Gaiden" send the Xbox off in a grand fashion, but finally, every gamer would have a chance at completing this already classic game.
Enter the Ninja Dog
Closer to "normal" than "easy", the new Ninja Dog difficulty setting is the most drastic addition included in Ninja Gaiden Black. To unlock Dog mode, you have to die three consecutive times in a chapter, then, you'll have to surrender the path of the ninja. As if this wasn't demeaning enough, you'll also suffer constant reminders of your failure throughout the entire game.
With so many changes, Black manages to hold onto the things that made the original so great. The graphics still look as amazing as they did over a year ago, and Ryu looks quite svelte in his new black duds. Environments are impeccably laid out, and the foes you face are beautifully grotesque and varied. Controlling your ninja may be a little tough at first, but through in game tutorials and practice, you'll be jumping and running along the walls in no time.