Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus

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Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus

This game was originally released on the original Xbox as Ninja Gaiden Black, then it was updated to “Sigma” for the PS3. The Sigma plus you would rightly assume is the Vita port of this game, should it have been left out of the launch window or is it one of the best titles on the system?

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus - PSVita

Keep reading to find out.

Story

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus isn’t a narrative powerhouse, but it’s full of a great kind of kitch story telling. It’s about honor and family, sensei’s and demons. The fun is actually in the cheese, and in that way the story doesn’t disappoint. You play as Ryu Hayabusa, a member of the Dragon lineage (and the Dragon Clan as it turns out). Your family protects the Dragon swords, one evil sword and one…not so evil one that Ryu carries around. In the first chapter Ryu’s village is attacked and your adventure begins.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus - PSVita

You meet a few interesting characters along the way, and even get to play as another character in the story (a monster hunter named Rachel). Really though this game is about the great action and challenge you’ll face while playing this title. The story doesn’t drive you forward like some of the great narratives in the medium, but it keeps you interested with the next strange conversation you’ll hear, or by learning a little more about Ryu and his famous sword.

Gameplay

This is where this title really shines. As an action game Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is a thrilling experience, the action is challenging of course, but it’s never cheap, and you always know that when you die, no matter how frustrating it may be, that if you practice you’ll improve. You start with the Dragon sword, but as the game continues you get numerous other weapons to rely on. Throwing weapons, bombs, staves, dual katanas, nunchuku, etc. etc.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus - PSVita

Some of these weapons are necessary for certain enemy types, but they’re all fun to use, and easy to learn. Ninpo magic is something you’ll work with as well, which is a bit of a help especially in boss battles. I didn’t use it very often preferring the melee combat, but the Ninpo magic certainly saved my butt when I was in a jam.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus - PSVita

There is a bit of platforming in the game, but luckily Ryu is an agile guy, and can run along walls, climb ledges, and do just about anything you need. Don’t expect Assassin’s Creed level of platforming, but those sections in this game usually make you think, and although they were sometimes frustrating, just like the combat, it isn’t cheap.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus - PSVita -

 

Upgrades are another thing you’ll find in Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, you can upgrade your accessories for upgrades (like extra health or defence) and every weapon can be upgraded to do more damage ala God of War. Upgrades, health potions and accessories are all available for purchase from in game shops and strangely enough statues of blacksmiths. You buy upgrades with the yellow orbs you collect from killing enemies. It has a familar economic feel just like other action games, and it works well, and there’s just that much more incentive to go out and kill some more baddies.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus - PSVita

Some of the shooting mechanics are a little annoying though, you use the touch screen to shoot arrows and other projectiles. They take a little while to get used to, but luckily they’re not that common of a hindrance. You’re lucky in the way that you can kill almost any enemy with your awesome melee combat.

Graphics

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus actually looks quite good on the Vita. The game runs really smooth, and the animations  are great. The first time you see Ryu use nunchucks you might get a flashback of Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon. They took a lot of care when they first made this title. The animations are different for each weapon as well, making them all really interesting to use.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus - PSVita

The environments in this game aren’t the most exciting, but then again you have to take into account when this game was made. It won’t blow you away with amazing settings like Uncharted Golden Abyss did, but the places you see in this game are at least quite varied, you’ll go from a small village to a large capital city, to dungeons, and even an Egyptian crypt. I don’t give away all the environments of course, that would spoil it a bit, but you’ll be surprised along your way, that’s for sure.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus - PSVita

The voice overs are actually well done too, they really push the cheese factor that the story calls for. The pre-rendered cutscenes are great too, you’d be surprised how over the top they are. The music is decent as well, but it won’t really blow your mind. I don’t ever remember it being annoying or memorable in either way, I guess I was more working on the great combat.

Is Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus Worth it?

Undeniably yes. If you’ve never played this title and have a Vita, buy it. There was a ton of content in this game too, it took me almost 20 hours to complete the main story, and there are many “ninja challenges” that test your skills too. The difficulty in this title is a little extreme as well, and for perhaps good reason they developers put in a mercy button for you (after dying a few times they ask you if you would like to continue your quest, if you say no, you’ll be pulled back into the game at a lower difficulty, this wasn’t explained sadly though, so I unwittingly ended up finishing the game on the lowest difficulty, there being three).

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus - PSVita

What really had me hooked, and I mean up till 3am in the morning hooked on this game is the great gameplay that is visceral and satisfying. This is a great title for the Vita, make sure to check it out.

9/10

Street Fighter X Mega Man Crossover

street-fighter-x-mega-man-gameplay-screenshot

Since DC faced Marvel comics I have been a fan of epic crossovers and to celebrate 25 years of Street Fighter and Mega Man, (has it been that long?), Capcom is releasing an awesome 8-bit crossover for free on December 17. Just in time for the Holidays you will be able to challenge some of the top Street Fighter characters including Blanka, Ryu, Chun Li, and, Dhalsim with the blue bomber himself.

street-fighter-x-mega-man-gameplay-screenshot

Now this isn’t a Marvel vs. Capcom game, this is totally retro. Mega Man will be in his classic form and you will have eight new powerful weapons to use against the ultimate fight club. Check out the video below and on December 17th make sure to head over to Capcom Unity to download this game, for free, to your PC.

Street Fighter 2 Turbo

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Street Fighter 2 Turbo

One of the most influential fighters for any fighter game in particular is none other than Street Fighter 2 and what could make it a better experience? Turbo! The game went to the next level as the savvy creators (Capcom) decided it would be a good idea to let you play as the boss fighters(Bison, Vega, Sagat, and Barlog). As many of you know, the original Street Fighter 2 for the SNES came with some bugs that were later fixed in this version which is why I picked it rather than the original one. You not only get more playable fighters but you also get the turbo setting which increases the speed of the game. I do have to agree that the original Street Fighter 2 was kinda of slow but that’s for today’s standards. Back in the day, it used to kick ass and we just couldn’t wait for our fighter to land that flying kick that would take like an hour to land. It was just awesome…..

Street fighter 2 turbo - hyper-fighting - Title Screen

Part of the game is also to pick your fighter. I have and will always pick Ryu as the fighter of choice for myself. I like him mostly because he is the easiest fighter to play with and has very interesting and effective moves. Of course, all fighters have their strengths and weaknesses to keep the game balanced. I used to know a couple of freaks that loved playing as Dhalsim and kicked my ass with that Indian fighter. Like I said, it’s only a matter of finding which fighter suits you best and most of all, learn their strengths and weaknesses.

Street fighter 2 turbo - hyper-fighting - Gameplay Screenshot

Yeah this game is full of interesting features such as the ending with all the fighters posing which you can only get if you don’t take damage through the whole game and you have to beat it with the highest difficulty, yeah it’s not much. Even if you are a Sega fan, the Genesis version is also a good choice. It all depends on which one you like and feel more comfortable with.

Street fighter 2 turbo - hyper-fighting - SNES Box

Well there is not much to say that many people have mentioned before. If you get a chance you can check out the arcade machines if there are still any left or better yet, buy yourself a 3DO console with the Street Fighter game but that will cost too much. The 3DO version is also the closest to the arcade and almost perfect. That should do it for this week.

My Favourite Games – Part 5

It’s been a pretty busy last week or so here in RKS Land, so sorry for no posts for a while. I have decided in the intervening days that I should expand my Top 30 Favourite Games to a Top 50. I’ve simply thought of too many great games that would have to be left out of a Top 30! So, as the five games I’m posting here bring the total so far to 25, I think I’ll take a break from the favourite game list for a while and try to establish some of my other planned types of posts. So, tomorrow (hopefully!), will be the first of my silly Top Five lists! In the meantime, here’s the next five of my Favourite Games…

Gradius – PC Engine (1991)

Gradius – PC Engine

Or Nemesis, to use its correct UK title, but I always preferred the Japanese name. Regardless of what you call it, no one can deny the effect it has had on the genre it helped to define. Some say it was the first shoot ’em up to feature power-ups; others claim it was the first to feature end-of-level-bosses. It certainly had unique and creative stages for such an early game. The PC Engine version is my favourite and is almost arcade-perfect. In fact, it even has a whole extra level and an awesome remixed soundtrack! For a while, the Speccy version was the only one that I’d played, and, based on that version, I steered clear of others. However, when I got it for free with my PC Engine, I figured I’d give it another try, and I’m pleased I did! Whilst very tough going, and suffering from a bit of slow-down when things get busy, it’s a supremely playable shooter and features lovely crisp graphics, great music, and enough variety and hectic shooting action to keep any fan happy for a good while!

Bubble Bobble – Saturn (1996)

Bubble Bobble – Saturn

What more can be said about this classic? I first enjoyed this game when I received the excellent Spectrum version as a gift many moons ago. I found it really tough going but loved every minute all the same. Then, a good few years later, I got the Sega Master System version which, for one reason or another, seemed to be quite a bit easier, and I got right to the end of the game. Maybe it was easier, maybe I was just better – it had been so long since I’d played the Speccy version it’s hard to say! Then came the arcade-perfect Saturn version, bundled with Rainbow Islands, which gave me plenty of oppotunity for practice again. Since then, I’ve played through the game on MAME, grabbing a screenshot of each of the 100 stages in the process. Now THAT was hard! Still, it never seems to matter how hard this game is, it’s always super-playable. That could be down to the highly intricate secrets, which sees bonuses and collectibles change depending on how you play, but it’s most likely because it’s simply such a great game. And that damn music!

Streets of Rage 2 – Mega Drive (1992)

Streets of Rage 2 – Mega Drive

It’s testament to this game’s greatness that countless Sega fans and fighting game fans alike still pine for another game in the series after all these years! It’s little wonder too. I remember when the first SOR game came out – it was a revelation, intended to rival Capcoms Final Fight on the recently released SNES, but in the mind of many it was superior. After such a groundbreaking first game, I for one wasn’t expecting a great deal from the sequel. But, as we all now know, it was amazing! Bigger, better graphics, another fantastic soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro, more playable characters (including the lovely Blaze once again!), and an even larger game to play though. SOR2 is still counted among the greatest games of its type, and universally revered, and it’s easy to see why.

Street Fighter 3: Third Strike – Dreamcast (1999)

Street Fighter 3 Third Strike – Dreamcast

Capcom sure took their sweet time with this! A lot of years, and countless variations of SF2 passed before it finally arrived. I haven’t played either of the previous versions of SF3, but if this DC version is anything to go by, they’ll certainly be passable! The character roster in this game is arguably less appealing (though also less sterotyped) than the fighters in the great SF2, but their nuances also take longer to learn, not to mention master, and be mastered they must, for this is a pretty tough game! I can just about finish it on default difficulty using the ever-reliable Ryu (now complete with a ruling new side-kick), although the final boss character, Gill, is a right bunghole! Various intricate new features also arrived with this sequel of the kind that I have trouble mastering, such as the much-praised ‘parrying’ system, but even if you’re as crap as me, you’ll still find a lot of hyper-fighting action here!

The New Zealand Story – Mega Drive (1990)

The New Zealand Story – Mega Drive

This is another one I first played on the Speccy. I still recall the time I was having a really good session one morning before school, so I paused it (using my fancy Multiface 3) so I could resume when I got home, only there was a big storm which caused a powercut! Grrrr! Anyway, a few years later, I was lucky enough to obtain this awesome Japan-only MD version from my friend Stu and his brother Darren. The first thing that struck me about it was that the levels were different! I’m still not sure why, actually, but I’ve played this version so many times now, I almost can’t remember what the original level designs were! Anyway, I guess it doesn’t matter too much. The key ingredient with games like this is the gameplay and addictiveness, and NZS has both in abundance! As Stu will testify, it can be a damn tough game, but it’s also among Taito’s most playable.

Yeay! 🙂 I finally finished the next post! It’s taken me a while due to certain unforeseen circumstances, but hopefully a more regular posting service will resume now! Next time, I’ll try something a bit different and resume the Top 30 (now the Top 50!) another time…

Street Fighter X Tekken: Teaser Trailer

Street Fighter X Tekken
Street Fighter X Tekken

If you love crossover fighting games then next year is going to be grand. Not only do we have Capcom versus Marvel 3 to look forward to, but a Street Fighter crossover with Tekken. This game was first announced at Comic-Con and will involve both the Capcom and Namco staff.

Now for those of you use to the 3D environments of Tekken you will have to adjust to the 2D mechanics that will be used in this game. Fighting will be more Street Fighter like than Tekken with moves like Ryu’s hadouken being available. In addition you will be able to team up with fighter from both series in tag play and you will have the ability to pull of super combos that combine power attacks of your team members.

As for this video you only get a bit of animation and nothing else, but we can tell you that a few playable characters have been named including Ryu, Chun Li and Akuma from Street Fighter and Kazuya, Nina and Devil from Tekken.

Currently there is no direct release date, but the game will be available for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.

Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden screenshot
Ninja Gaiden screenshot

Ninja Gaiden

Have you ever known love and pure frustration all in one? I’m not talking about your girlfriend, I’m talking gaming. Ninja Gaiden for the Nintendo Entertainment System was a game I loved, but also one I grew frustrated with, so much so I destroyed my first NES over it.

Ninja Gaiden was released for the NES in March of 1989 after the successful run of the arcade version. Made by Tecmo the action packed side-scrolling platforming game was a hit with fans worldwide and is still acclaimed to this day. You play as a ninja named Ryu Hayabusa who is on a quest to avenge his murdered father. When Ryu arrives in America he finds out there is a plot by a man known as “The Jaquio” to take over the world.

Ninja Gaiden screenshot
Ninja Gaiden screenshot

As said the action is fast paced, but can be horribly hard. Your primary weapon is your katana, but you also have secondary weapons that require spiritual strength to use including throwing stars, windmill throwing stars and a fire wheel that gives you temporary invincibility. You find these weapons along with items to replenish your health, spiritual strength and even 1 ups by destroying lanterns and candles and other items hanging from walls.

Pretty much you are always running and moving forward which means you are constantly slashing at enemies and using your special weapons. Ryu can also climb ladders and can flip of walls to get to higher ledges. This may all sound easy, but trust me it is not. The first problem is like many games on the NES if you scroll from one panel to the next and back the enemy returns. What makes this horrible is when jumping from ledge to ledge and some damn bird knocks you to your death.

Ninja Gaiden NES box art
Ninja Gaiden NES box art

This was what hurt so much, Ninja Gaiden was a great game, it had cool graphics for the time and was fast paced and full of action. In addition it had awesome animated cut-scenes, cool music and a pretty good story, all things we want out of games. Then it had the worst learning curve of any game. Pretty much from Act 3 on you were in hell and when you reached Act 6 you were in hells toilet. It was not just the enemy placement and lack of health potions, many of the bosses were painstakingly hard and if you died it was a long way back to where you where.

Playing NG was like going through war, but once you did you were a better gamer for it and ready for the next installments of the series.

Why did she Kick My Ass at Fighting Games?

His name was Erwin and he played with Orchid and was able to pull off a combo from the start of the match and chain it into a finisher so you did not get in one single hit. He taught me that trick in exchange for six bags of Skittles, a Mars bar and my limited edition Cobra Commander with cloth mask.~J.A. Laraque

Why did she Kick My Ass at Fighting Games?

One day when I was a teenager I decided to invite my sister to play some fighting games with me. She was totally not a gamer, hell she didn’t even know how to turn on my SNES. I don’t know why I asked her to play, the last time I got her to try a game was Final Fantasy and she just looked at the screen, then to me and said; “So this is why you don’t have a girlfriend.”

Gamer Girl

Maybe I wanted revenge on her for scaring my ass a child making me believe there were ghosts that shook the house never telling me it was the subway underneath. Perhaps I was bored because my friends were out living life and I was trying to master every finisher in Mortal Kombat.

Mass Shrinkage

So I popped in Street Fighter 2 for the SNES, I figured the first thing I would do was show her who is boss. I had marathon seasons with my friend John who could beat the game on hard with the controller behind his back. (He did this and yet had a girlfriend). He would play Ryu and I would play Ken and thanks to his skills I could kick almost anyone’s ass.

Gamer Girl anime

My sister picked Chung Li because she was a girl and was “pretty”. She didn’t even ask what button did what, but I decided to give her a few moments to get used to the game. After a moment I jumped in expecting to finish her off pretty quickly, and then something weird happened.

I couldn’t lay a hit on her. She was just mashing the buttons and somehow she was kicking my butt. You should have seen her face; she looked like she was wrestling with a rat in her hands. She was blinking wildly and sweating. Even worst she would turn her whole body with the controller as if that helped her. All this and she owned me.

Oh Hell No!

We had about ten matches before I had to take a break to get some air (and to cry). I did get close; she had 10% health and somehow beat me. I could not believe it, 10 and 0, her win. I had to get my balls back so I loaded up the Sega Genesis and popped in Mortal Kombat.

beaten by a girl

MK2 was my game. I played in the arcades and was taught every combo and finisher from this guy who claimed his dad had worked on the coding for the game. I knew every in and out and I was determined to make my sister pay for what she did to me. If I ever hoped to get laid I had to beat my sis at video games. Yes, I see now my logic was flawed.

I picked Scorpion and again my sister went with a girl, Sonya Blade. My sister told me Sonya was a nice name; she nicely kicked my ass again. Don’t get me wrong, with MK 2 I won some matches, but in the end she won more. She even pulled off a finisher and she never played before or even saw the movie!

At this point I was her bitch and had one more game to try.

Balls, missing

Killer Instinct was recently released for the N64 and I had been trained in it by the master. His name was Erwin and he played with Orchid and was able to pull off a combo from the start of the match and chain it into a finisher so you did not get in one single hit. He taught me that trick in exchange for six bags of Skittles, a Mars bar and my limited edition Cobra Commander with cloth mask.

My sister thought the game was very pretty when I loaded it up and to her surprise I picked the girl. My sister was upset, but then smiled when she realized she could also pick Orchid. It was to be sweet revenge because I would beat her with a girl character.

hot girl gamer

It started off well enough. Again, she knew nothing of the game and didn’t ask for instructions. I had her half health when out of nowhere she pulled off a combo breaker. I felt my scrotum shatter as she pulled off her own combo and somehow killed me. I just sat there, my mouth gaping, I couldn’t believe it.

I only played her that one time. I got up without saying a word and left. I think I walked six miles before I feel to my knees embracing the defeat. At that time everything I was evolved gaming and my noob sister owned me in three different fighting games I was a pro at.

You took my balls and I’m going home!

I didn’t play any games for the next few weeks. I started to go out more and play basketball and even met a girl. It didn’t work out, but hey it was a start. In the end my sister helped to break the addition to games. I still played a lot more than a normal kid, but it did get me to realize that what’s important is moderation because if you sister can kick your ass then you might as well not take the game so seriously.

Girl Gamer FPS

I also had an effect on my sister. She got into video games though her type was adventure or horror like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. To no surprise she was very good at those games as well.

I never learned why my sister had a natural ability to own me. I never saw her play anyone else so I don’t know if it was just me or something else. Either way I learned something that day; girls can play games and lay the smackdown on you too. Later in life I made sure to get my girlfriends into games, sometimes they beat me, but in the end I always came out on top. (Lol’s sex joke for the win!)

X-Men versus Street Fighter

X-Men vs Street Fighter
X-Men vs Street Fighter

We can debate if X-Men versus Street Fighter should be considered a classic game, but for fans of the Capcom versus series there is no doubt this game made an impression when it arrived in arcades during the spring of 1996.

Street Fighter versus X-men was the third game to feature Marvel characters. The game pits X-man versus X-man and street fighter versus street fighter in a tag-team battle system. When I first laid my eyes on this game I was hooked and spent many hours and many more quarters perfecting my team of Gambit and Ken.

The game was perfect for the arcade with its fast style, multiple combos and special moves. One of the good things about the game was if you played any of the other Capcom fighting games it was an easy transition and even if you didn’t many of the basic moves and specials were not hard to learn and pull off. However, to chain together moves and perform aerial combos took practice.

Graphically the game was nothing out of this world, by then other games had come along with better looking graphics, but the point of XSF was gameplay. XFS had a comic book look to it from the design of the characters to the animation of the moves and background. The sound was also decent offering remix versions of themes from the Street Fighter series and prior Marvel related fighting games made by Capcom.

During the single player game you would fight a series of teams consisting of both X-Men and Street Fighter characters, when you got to the last two fights you went up again the team of M. Bison and Magneto and then the big daddy boss, Apocalypse. The sad thing about Apocalypse was he was so easy to beat it was a joke he had like three moves all easily block-able or avoidable. His strongest attack was his mega drill which you could super jump over to avoid. After you turned the big A into melted goo you had to fight your partner. What was funny was sometimes that was the hardest fight and to lose to your partner was a series humiliation. (Not that it ever happened to me mind you)

The line up for the X-men was Cyclops, Gambit, Rogue, Storm, Juggernaut, Sabretooth, Magneto and Wolverine. For the Street Fighters it was Ryu, Ken, Cammy, Chun-Li, Charlie, Zangief, Dhalsim, M.Bison and Akuma.

Some felt there were cheap moves and combos to the game. It was possible to perform some wicked aerial combos and finish off your opponent with a double special, but overall if you learned you character you could do well even with some of the weaker ones like Storm and Dhalsim.

When X-Men versus Street fighter game came to the Playstation it was gutted due to the memory limitations of the console. They took out many of the animations and there was noticeable slowdown, but the worst was the removal of the tag mode which just killed the game. On the other hand the Sega Saturn’s version was pretty much a perfect arcade port.

We all know games like Marvel versus Capcom came after with lots of fanfare, but for me there will always be a warm place in my heart for XSF. When the game showed up at my local laundry I had the cleanest clothes in town for many months.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPJSLjrUBU8[/youtube]

So I finally got my video setup working so this is me actually playing the game. Don’t worry we will have better videos and intros in the future, but hey, first one!

Street Fighter IV on the Apple App store Tonight

Gaming isn’t just about PC’s or Consoles, if you are true gamer its part of your everyday life and since almost everyone has a phone then gaming on the phone is just another outlet for the digital disciple.

The iPhone definitely gives gamers a ton of games to soak their teeth into and tonight Street Fight IV becomes one of them. The path of Street Fight IV went like this, in 2008 it hit the arcades in Japan, in 2009 it was ported to the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC and tonight in 2010 it will be ported to the iPhone and iPod touch.

Street Fighter IV on Iphone
Street Fighter IV on Iphone

How does it look, how does it play? Honestly it looks pretty damn good and one of the reasons is that they only added eight fighters in this release Ryu, Ken, Guile, Blanka, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, M. Bison and Abel. By adding fewer characters the idea was to have the game run smoothly and let me tell you it does.

The graphics look great, clean, clear and fluid and I couldn’t find any lag or stutter in the animation even during intense battles, but to be fair another reason is because the backgrounds are static, but again the character models and special effects look fantastic so it’s a give and take that I believe works.

The sound is also pretty incredible even coming from the iPhone speakers, the background music and sound effects come in clear and you actually want to keep the music and sound turned on and up.

As for controls, the game plays like most on the iPhone and iPod touch, you have your four buttons (punch, kick, special move, and focus attack) in the right hand corner and your direction pad in the left. The buttons and eight-way directional controls are pretty large and take up a good size of the screen, but it isn’t too bad.

A few more things to mention, first there are three gameplay modes, you can fight against the AI, versus multiplayer, or training modes. A note about multiplayer is it is supported locally only so you will need to be within range of someone else with an iPhone to play against them.

The training mode has a dojo where you can practice your moves with a series of exercises that show you every aspect of fighting within the SFIV world, this is not only so you get use to playing on the phone, but for those who may have never played a Street Fighter game before.

However, for those that have you will find the controls and combo actions are pretty much the same on the iPhone version as your console version. If you need help pulling off combos and specials there is an assist mode that helps you out, but for the old vets and pro’s you can turn it off on the options screen.

Overall Street Fighter IV for the iPhone is definitely worth the $9.99 price tag and if you have friends with iPhones or IPod touches that also purchase the game then the value is even better. Street Fighter IV for the iPhone will be hitting the Apple App store later tonight.