There are few cooler concepts than that of ninjas; silent, deadly assassins who control every situation and strike with precision and intent. Well, unless you’re playing Ninja Gaiden. Then you’re a loud, messy warrior who blasts his way through enemies as brutally as possible with a combination of a variety of weapons and magic. The good news is it’s still crazy fun.
If you haven’t played the game before, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus follows Ryu Hayabusa as he seeks to stop the Black Spider ninja clan from stealing a demon statue and resurrecting the Archfiend Vazdah. It’s not much of a plot, but the game spends little time on it. Outside of some pretty entertaining cutscenes and set-pieces, Sigma 2 Plus sticks to Ninja Gaiden tradition of action over cutscenes.
This latest entry sticks to the design of its predecessor, which in turn stuck pretty closely to the design of its predecessor. Sigma 2 Plus is a port of an enhanced port, but the Plus in the name implies some new features, when in fact some significant removals have occurred. Japanese audio didn’t make the cut for this entry, nor did online co-op. So what was added in their place?
Well, not really anything. Sigma 2 Plus is otherwise a faithful port of Sigma 2 on the PlayStation 3, if you set the framerate at 30 and are prepared for some serious dips. Upping the camera speed (weirdly) improves the performance, as does turning off the gore, but you really shouldn’t have to do that in a Ninja Gaiden game. Levels, enemy layouts, bosses, weapons, characters, etc. are all present and accounted for, and the lower difficulty level of the early difficulties is the same as Sigma 2.
Concerns about the controls prove unfounded, as Sigma 2 Plus plays very well on the Vita. Ninja Gaiden has always been a challenging action series, and the higher difficulties of the Sigma games can really stress your skills. Lower difficulties are still fun, and will let new fans ease into the experience. Level designs are largely linear with secrets to be found around corners, and enemies are heavily scripted, challenging you on pattern recognition and response rather than pure speed.
Graphically Sigma 2 Plus has held up rather well in the transition from PS3 to Vita. No one will mistake this version for its older brother, but it’s certainly a good looking game. The framerate drops are definitely a big hit to the experience though, and even with the improvements gained by maxing the camera speed, they are noticeable and regular during high enemy number encounters.
The lack of Japanese audio is irritating as well; the English voice acting is less than stellar. Music is appropriate and atmospheric, but it doesn’t stand out. You’ll likely get around 10 hours out of the game on a first playthrough, which is pretty good for an action game. Higher difficulties are also definitely worth a look. It’s a fun game to replay.
It’s hard to recommend Sigma 2 Plus if you are looking to experience the game for the first time. The PS3 version is unquestionably superior in all ways. If you are already a fan and looking to play the game portably, this isn’t a terrible option. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus is a solid adaptation, but significant issues hold it back from being a truly great port.