Ninja Gaiden Black
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2005-11-15 Xbox Action M (Mature) Tecmo / Team Ninja

About a year and a half after Ninja Gaiden captivated gamers everywhere for the first time on the Xbox, Ninja Gaiden Black now becomes the ultimate Ninja experience.

If you were expecting this title to be a sequel, forget it. Ninja Gaiden Black in basically the same game repackaged with content from the Xbox Live downloadable expansion packs (Hurricane Packs 1 and 2), with an extended storyline and some pretty amazing cinematics that add to the depth of the Ninja Gaiden world and Ryu Hayabusa's action-packed adventures.

But that's not all for the list of changes. The camera issues have been addressed with manual camera control (and a toggle between first and third person views), there are more costumes, several new weapons, and there are now five difficulty levels. If Normal difficulty ends up being too hard, there is an even easier one, which although being a degrading choice for a Ninja to take, it will be welcome by the more casual gamer. Ninja Dog is a shameful path where even Ayami will make fun of you (but she will also leave you some goodies along with the hints, including a Band of Strength that considerably makes things easier). To unlock it, all you need to do is die three times to Normal difficulty on Chapter One. For the hardcore gamer (or shall we say, those more prone to masochism) there is also the ultimate difficulty level, Very Difficult Master Ninja.

You can play either the Story Mode or test the limit of your skills in Mission mode, which is available once you have beaten the game in any difficulty. Mission mode is a series of 50 arena battles, where in each mission you are given a limited amount of elixirs, a certain choice of weapons and pre-set Ninpo. Basically, it gives you the minimum required to win. Each five missions that you complete unlock and extra five. These missions range from time challenges to boss battles or regular enemy fights and they are probably the selling point of this title.

Ninja Gaiden Black also allows you to show off your Karma scores online via Xbox Live.

More bonus content can be unlocked by exchanging Golden Scarabs at Muramasa's shop, and it varies according to the difficulty level you are playing in. These include music, extra costumes, more equipment, more weapons, useful items and the harder difficulty levels. Collect enough scarabs to unlock the first Ninja Gaiden game, and beat Ninja Gaiden Black on Hard difficulty to unlock the original arcade game (Ninja Ryukenden) which even comes enabled with a two-player mode. So basically, you have all three games in one, which makes it the perfect collectible for any gaming library, especially if you don't own Ninja Gaiden.

These new added features end up making Ninja Gaiden Black feel like a brand new game, but it's still Ninja Gaiden in its core. Kudos to Team Ninja and Tecmo for bringing back an already excellent title and making it even better than it originally was.

Special thanks to Jasmine Wright at M80 and Tecmo for providing a copy of the game.