by Professor Layton
reviewed on NDS
Turning it sideways
Set six months after the events of the original Xbox version of Ninja Gaiden, Ryu Hayabusa has rebuilt Hayabusa Village. Momiji, a resident of Hayabusa, is abducted by the Black Spider Ninja Clan. During his quest to find her, Ryu uncovers the mysteries of the Dark Dragonstones and the secret behind the Dragon Sword.
Unlike most DS titles, you will be playing Dragon Sword in ‘book form’, turning it 90 degrees so that you get two tall screens next to each other, rather than two wide ones. It may take a little getting used to, but the more ‘vertical’ gameplay is a nice change from the norm. You can easily navigate each area using the map that is shown on the left screen. The action takes place on the right screen.
Playing Ryu, you are tasked to guide him through the many dangers that he will encounter on his quest to find Momiji. Dragon Sword’s control scheme may take some time to master but it is easy to get started. To move Ryu, you simply slide the stylus in whichever direction you want Ryu to go. The camera typically keeps Ryu in the center of the screen. The farther from him you point the stylus, the faster he will run.
Combat is a simple affair that comes down to sliding the stylus over an enemy. If the enemy is out of range, Ryu will run up to the enemy before vanquishing them with a slash of the sword. Ryu is very athletic: to make him jump up you simply slide the stylus upwards. Sliding the stylus elsewhere on the screen will cause him to leap in that direction. A second upward stroke while Ryu is in midair will result in a double jump. Ryu can throw shurikens while in midair. By constantly tapping the stylus on the enemy, Ryu will keep firing at it until he falls to the ground. To roll and evade an enemy attack you slide the stylus while pressing any direction on the control pad or any of the face buttons on the Nintendo DS.
Ryu can perform more complex moves such as the Izuna Drop and the Ultimate Technique. The Izuna Drop is a devastating attack that is performed by sliding the stylus downwards to stun your foe, upwards to send the enemy into the air, then upwards again to make Ryu leap, grab his opponent and piledrive him into the ground. Using the Ultimate Technique, Ryu gathers energy that can be unleashed into a powerful spin attack. He is vulnerable while gathering energy, but this attack has the ability to completely obliterate enemies if you manage to pull it off. Well worth the trouble and very satisfying to behold.
Magic in Ninja Gaiden is represented by ‘Ninpo’ and is somewhat reminiscent of the magic system in Black & White. To cast a spell, you select it by clicking its icon on the screen and then trace it with the stylus. The faster you trace the contour of the icon, the longer your spell will last. After doing this, you will get to cast your spell and unleash your magical fury on the enemies around you.
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