Ninja Gaiden 2: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Box Shot
Ninja Gaiden 2: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Platform: NES
Publisher: Tecmo
Designer: Tecmo
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1990
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

When I first played through Ninja Gaiden 2, I was sorely dissappointed. I mean, it was a great game and all, but I had already played the first one to death. This seemed to be the same exact game, only different levels. But once I put that aside and actually compared the two games, I got to see that Ninja Gaiden 2 was indeed, a better game.

Anyway, it seems as if this evil bad guy with no mouth named Ashtar wants to take over the world by opening a portal, allowing members of the Dark Tribe to run amok. Ashtar also kidnaps Irene Lew, that CIA agent that shot Ryu in the beginning of Ninja Gaiden. Well, once Ryu learns of this kidnapping from a special operative, he goes to the Tower of Lahja, which then leads to more adventures, a showdown with Ashtar, a battle for the date of all humanity, and an old friend (I think I gave away too much already.)

As mentioned before, the game plays pretty much the same way as its predecessor. Everything is nice and fast paced, with a constant stream of enemies flying from all directions. However, there are subtle differences in gameplay. First off, the Jump and Slash technique is gone. Instead, they are replaced for orange shadows that mimic your every movement. Mastering the placement of these shadows is the key to defeating many bosses. Additionally, you have one new weapon, which is the same as the Fire Wheel except it's aimed downwards. You can now also climb up and down walls, instead of just clinging and jumping, as well as the ability to throw special weapons when you're hanging. Finally, you now have a limit to the maximum numbers of "spirit" points (the amount of times you can use your weapons) that increaes when you find certain power-ups.

At first look, the graphics seem exactly the same. However, the original Ninja Gaiden had a very grainy look to it, especially in the backgrounds. Everything seems a lot clearer in this sequel, and thus a lot better. Many of the background effects are very impressive, such as the train at the beginning of Act 2 or the flames in Act 4. Also, some of the levels are rather neat, like where you must deal with changing winds (it blows left or right, and can either help or hinder your jumps), or navigating waterfalls and streams of water in an underground catacomb. I'm still don't care for many of the sprites though. Ryu should have a bit more detail. The cinema scenes are generally on par with the original, except for some cool new effects (like when Ashtar "warps" in at the end of Act 3.) The sound effects are a bit better, and the music is on par, and sometimes even surpasses, the excellent tunes of the first one. I really don't like the drum beats in Ninja Gaiden 2 as much as the first though.

Overall, I still think the plot in the original is a tad not better. Except for a revelation I basically gave away earlier, and a bit of emotion that I won't give away, too much of the cinema scenes revolve around Ashtar going on about he's going to rule everybody and kill Ryu and yada, yada, yada. Yawn. Sure, it makes out Ashtar to be a really cool bad guy (meaning than Jaquio ever was) but doesn't quite have the same focus that it should. Not enough action in these scenes. The good news is that the frustration is down quite a bit from the first one. I can't count how many times I felt like too many enemies were thrown at me just for the hell of it in Ninja Gaiden 1, but never did I feel this way here. It's also a bit easier, which I know dissappointed many hardened NG veterans.

Ninja Gaiden 2 is one of the best NES games out there, surpassing the original and turning about to be one helluva enjoyable game. Sure, it may take a bit of practice (especially if you've never played the original Ninja Gaiden) but you'll probably be able to tolerate it. Get it!