Friday, March 28, 2008

Games: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

I was really skeptical about this game at first. I had read plenty of pre-reviews about this game and using the stylus to "slash" the opponents on the screen. I just imagined some geeky kid on an airplane waving his hands widley, shopping at the tiny DS screen with a katana shapped stylus, poking the passengers around him in the eyes. And given the fact that Ninja Gaiden on the XBox is second only the GTA in the need for an ESRB rating, I was a little worried about the delivery on family friendly Nintendos consoles.

Now that I've gotten a hands on with it, I can say those fears are completely unfounded. NG:DS is a completely engrossing handheld experience right from the get go. Gone are the days and stories of Ryu chasing Jaquio around looking for statues and saving Irine from the clutches of certain death. NG:DS takes up from the original Xbox story line, some 6 months after the "Dark Dragon Blade" incident. While I haven't gotten enough into the story, I did run around quite a bit to make sure the control scheme wasn't nearly as wonky as I had feared. Holding the DS at 90 degrees, book style, is a bit awkward, but only because I've spent the past 20 years of my life holding controllers ALA the original NES control scheme. Moving the character around is done via the stylus, as is the attacks. How is this done? Why, by pointing where you want to move to, writing/slashing the stylus over the opponent to attack, tapping the opponent to throw ninja stars, and slashing up to jump. So the attacks are actually pretty intuitive, despite my original fears.

There are a few hiccups however. There re times where to want to jump, and the chacter runs right into the coming onslaught of enemies instead. Thats kind of annoying, but I can chalk that up to my own ineptness with the control scheme. Blocking is a bit of a pain. Any button will cause you to block. But since I am a righty, I hold the stylus with my right-hand, the DS is in a right-hand orientation, which puts the buttons on the right-screen. So, as you can imagine, having to use my left hand to push a button in a right-handed orientation leaves me a little short-circuited due to my lack of ambidextrous abilities. Fortunately, what I lack in coordination I more than make up for in hand size, so reaching over to push buttons to block isn't as bad as I make it seem.

While I haven't done enough story line to really pass judgment on it, I did find the game bordering on "not able to put down" fun from running around and slashing. While this game isn't quite suitable for my game time during meals while traveling due to it's more interactive nature, it is definitely suitable for the evenings at the hotel while traveling and on long plane rides so that I can be the uncoordinated geeky kid poking peoples eyes out.

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