Ninja Gaiden
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Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox is a remake of a popular platform game available for NES. In this version, the environment is in 3D, and more emphasis is placed on fighting techniques than previous versions.

Go to: [ Game Mechanics and Controls | Good | Bad | Notes ]

Developer Team Ninja
Web site
Platform Xbox
Cost $49.99
ESRB Rating MATURE. With blood and gore, intense violence.

Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox is an amazing 3D game that transitioned very well from its 2D platform roots. I remember playing the old Ninja Gaiden games on NES/Famicom and how impressed I was with the cinematics and the difficulty of the games.

People who've played the old Ninja Gaiden games probably remember how difficult they were. Finishing a level almost always required near flawless execution on all of the jumps and attacks. Now the same frustration and challenge is again presented, except now it's a three-dimentional problem. The only good thing here is the inability to die from falling. The camera is also difficult to work with at times.

The wall-jumping aspects from before is now upgraded with an ability to run along the walls for a short period of time. With proper timing and the right walls the main character can run to locations not possible by jumping, while at the same time displaying supernatural acrobatics that is a pleasure to watch. Ninjas are supposed to be like that.

This version of Ninja Gaiden is made by the same team that did the fighting game Dead or Alive series, and a much more elaborate fighting system is integrated into the game. The button combinations and blocking is easy to execute, but to maximize damage potential timing and experience is essential. Being able to use multiple weapons also make the fighting much more interesting, as the weapons all have different characteristics and can be upgraded.

I think video games have gradually became more and more accessible to everyone in recent years. Often games are easy to complete with obvious goals and plenty of hints throughout each level. It is unusual to see a game that brings back such a challenge as presented by Ninja Gaiden. In my opinion it makes finishing the game much more rewarding, and really encourages players to practice and try to discover as much as possible about how the game works. But there is a very fine line between making a challenging game, and needlessly frustrate the players. That is what makes this game interesting and worth analyzing, because I think the developers have done a great job balacing elements of Ninja Gaiden to make it an excellent game.

Game Mechanics and Controls

  • As you play and upgrade your weapons, new moves are unlocked. These moves are similar to other fighting games made by Tecmo.
  • The cameras are very difficult to work with. Their placement can prevent you from seeing certain enemies. Also, as a large part of the game involves running along the walls and jumping to places, the camera behavior can also mess up your timing.
  • It is not obvious at the beginning, but you really want to save up the money to upgrade just a few weapons. Upgrading the wooden sword, for example, is one of the best investments you can make; however, until it is fully upgraded it is not helpful at all.
  • This game is very challenging. Especially if you intend to unlock all the secrets, then you have to be prepared to spend a lot of time looking for the 50 scarabs all over the game and probably playing through multiple times. That means fighting waves and waves of tough oppoents, and probably memorizing a lot of patterns.

Excellent Ideas

  • Subtle effects, such as air distortions when your character blocks an attack, is very nice.
  • Essence attacks, and most of the moves in general require planning and accurate execution. So being able to pull off a sequence that you intended is very satisfying and rewarding.
  • All three of the original NES games are unlockable. They are great games to play.
  • The lowest ranking you can get for completing a level is "Ninja Dog." For whatever reason I thought this is funny and a good idea.
  • With Xbox connected to Live! service, you can download updates and new weapons. Personally I feel they do not significantly change the game. Alternatively, you can also buy Ninja Gaiden Black, which includes all of the updates plus the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden.


  • The camera likes to mess with me. The game is already very challenging, but the camera can position itself such that you can't see any enemies that you are fighting.

Other Notes


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