Ninja Gaiden Sigma
|Ninja Gaiden Sigma|
North American cover art
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 3
|Distribution||Blu-ray disc, PlayStation Vita card|
Ninja Gaiden Sigma, stylized as Ninja Gaiden Σ, is an action-adventure game developed by Team Ninja for the PlayStation 3. It is an enhanced port of Ninja Gaiden, originally released on Xbox in 2004, and is the second expansion to the game after Ninja Gaiden Black. The game was released in the summer of 2007 to very positive reviews. In 2012, a port for the PlayStation Vita, titled Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus was released on the same day the console launched in Europe and North America.
The gameplay for Sigma is very similar to the original version, albeit with some modifications made to the game. Like the original version, the player's movements and combat system are directed using the console gamepad, which comprises the left thumbstick, two attack buttons, and a block button. The game features a large selection of weapons for Ryu to wield each with advantages and disadvantages that affect the way the player approaches combat. A new addition to Ryu's arsenal there is a pair of dual-wield swords, Dragon's Claw and Tiger's Fang. It also provides Ryu with magical spells in the form of ninpos, which allows him to inflict heavy damage on enemies while potentially avoiding damage himself. By shaking the Sixaxis controller, players are able to increase the power of their ninpo spells. Rachel, a non-playable character in the 2004 game, became playable in three new chapters, featuring the new bosses, Gamov and Alterator. Some of the design elements of the old levels was also changed and several new enemy types were introduced.
In addition to the narrative Story Mode, Sigma included a gameplay variation called Mission Mode. Focused on action rather than character development, this provides combat-based missions set mainly in small areas. In both Story and Mission modes, game scoring is based on the player's speed in clearing encounters, the number of kills achieved, the number of unused ninpos remaining at the end, and the amount of cash collected. Players can compare their scores on online ranking boards. In addition, players have the option to customize the appearance of player characters, with selectable costumes for Ryu and hairstyles for Rachel.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma, like the original, stars the young Dragon ninja Ryu Hayabusa as he fights against the Black Spider Ninja Clan to save his village. He is lent the legendary Dragon Sword by his father before the start of the game. The Sigma edition includes extra missions with Rachel (a Fiend hunter from the Holy Vigoor Empire who is in possession of the "Fiend's Blood" curse), and a new Mission Mode that does not affect the overall plot.
Unlike the original game, the story now spans 19 chapters as opposed to 16, with the extra three starring Rachel. At the start of the game, the player takes control of Ryu as he infiltrates the Shadow clan fortress. Ryu is there to visit his uncle, the clan leader Murai. During their chat, Ayane delivers news of a raid on the Hayabusa village. Fighting his way back to his village, Ryu encounters Doku, who has killed the Hayabusa shrine maiden Kureha and has taken the Dark Dragon Blade. Ryu is cut down by Doku with the stolen Blade, but he is brought back to life as a "soldier of revenge" by a falcon, the spiritual animal of the Hayabusas.
Seeking vengeance for Kureha's death, Ryu learns from Murai that the raiders were from Vigoor, so he stows away on an airship bound for the empire. Fighting his way through the streets of its capital city, Tairon, Ryu faces several bosses including the three Greater Fiends. He defeats Alma in a battle that wrecks the city, but leaves her to Rachel's mercy. Conversely, Rachel cannot bring herself to kill her sister, and instead is taken by Doku, who prepares to sacrifice her in a ritual to enhance Alma's power. With Alma's help Ryu rescues Rachel and destroys Doku's spirit, but with his dying breath Doku casts the blood curse on Ryu. The only way for Ryu to lift the curse is to kill the emperor, so he storms the palace, defeating Marbus who bars his way to the emperor's personal realm. Two successive boss fights must be completed to destroy the Emperor and reclaim the Dark Dragon Blade—once this is accomplished his realm starts to destruct. Ryu must then be maneuvered up a series of ledges to escape, but in the process he loses his grip on the Dark Dragon Blade.
The fallen Blade lands at the feet of a figure, the Dark Disciple, who has been shadowing Ryu throughout the game. Taking the Blade, the Disciple reveals himself to be the clan leader Murai. He admits that the raid on Hayabusa village was part of his plan to restore the Blade's evil power, using souls harvested by Ryu. Drawing on the Blade, Murai transforms himself, setting the stage for the final boss fight. Ryu defeats Murai and shatters the Blade with the True Dragon Sword. Victorious, Ryu turns himself into a falcon and flies to the Hayabusa village. In the game's final scene he places the Dragon Eye, used to enhance his sword, on Kureha's tombstone and disappears into the night. The story is continued in the spiritual sequel, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.
In 2006, Tecmo and Sony announced the development of Ninja Gaiden Sigma for the PlayStation 3. Eidos obtained the European publishing rights for this game. Tomonobu Itagaki had no direct role in Sigma, and judged it a flawed game, although he acknowledged that Sigma gave PlayStation owners a taste of Ninja Gaiden.
The Cell processor of the PlayStation 3 gave Team Ninja the opportunity to overhaul the game graphics to use larger and more detailed textures. Changes were made to the game world, with a few new areas and several additional save points and shops, and alterations to the game engine let players shoot arrows in mid-air, fight on water surfaces, and play as Rachel in some chapters and missions.
In July 2007, Tecmo released a demo and a new game mode, Survival Mode, for Sigma over the PlayStation Network. The demo limits players to the first chapter of the game, but lets them play as Rachel in a separate mission. Survival Mode comprises missions in which players keep fighting until they have either killed all their opponents, or their character has been defeated.
Like Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden Black, Ninja Gaiden Sigma has received positive reviews, currently holding an average score of 86.84% at GameRankings and 88/100 at Metacritic, based on 57 and 46 reviews respectively.
Critics varied in their views on the technical aspects of Ninja Gaiden Sigma. Although the gaming site 1UP.com called the updated graphics "a gorgeous reworking of the modern ninja classic," Pro-G said that they were average by next-generation standards and showed occasional "tearing, jagged edges, and mismatched collision between bloodstains and walls."
Although reviewers appreciated the retention of the gameplay of previous versions, Sigma's lack of new attractive features caused them to question its worth as "a remake of a remake". Pro-G said that Sigma was not worth its full-game price tag because it "has, in effect, been available for years in one form or another". Eurogamer stated that Sigma lacked the "wow factor" when compared to God of War and its sequel. IGN was not excited about playing as Rachel and wished to "get back to Ryu's sections simply because he's more fun to play". DailyGame, however, appreciated the change of pace, saying that Rachel will bring a "much-needed respite for newcomers and provide something new for experienced players".
46,307 units were sold in the first week of its release in Japan, making it the third highest selling game during that period. According to the NPD Group, in its first month Sigma sold 63,637 copies in the United States. Next Generation reported that as of April 2008, 470,000 copies of Sigma have been sold in Europe and North America. Tecmo announced that they have sold 500,000 units worldwide.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is a port of Ninja Gaiden Sigma for the PlayStation Vita. Like Ninja Gaiden Black's "Ninja Dog" mode, Sigma Plus features an easier difficulty called "Hero" mode, making it more accessible to casual gamers. It also takes advantage of the additional features that the Vita offers, including gyroscopic first-person aiming (by tilting the PlayStation Vita, the player can adjust the camera angle in first-person viewing modes), back touchpad controls (tapping symbols using the rear touchpad will allow Ryu to boost the power of his Ninpo), touch screen controls (players can go into first-person mode by tapping the touch screen). In addition, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus offers new sets of accessories that Ryu and Rachel can equip.
- Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, an enhanced port of Ninja Gaiden II released in 2009.
- Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, an enhanced port of Ninja Gaiden 3 released in 2012.
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