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Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus
When first sitting down to play Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus one might not be expecting too much from the experience. This is after all essentially the same game experience as Ninja Gaiden Black released for the Xbox back in 2005 ported to the Vita in HD. This game does however manage to stand out amongst the Playstation Vita’s launch line-up. Though Sigma Plus is basically the same game we played back in 2005, it works surprisingly well as a handheld experience.
First off the graphics though dated in some respects really pop off the Vita’s screen and do a good job at keeping you immersed in the world you are playing in. The moment you are able to control the main character Ryu Hyabusa, you are greeted with a familiar vibrant climb up a mountainside to the ninja fortress. The mountain side is decorated with beautiful sunshafts, falling cherry blossoms and foliage that are pleasing to the eye, but not enough to distract you from or hide your current path. The rest of the levels hold up pretty well aside from the bland city missions which were never all that exciting in the first place. Anyone who played the origional version of this game might remember the lackluster camera, unfortunately this issue found it’s way into Sigma Plus, though it does not completely ruin the gaming experience by any means.
The sound in Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is familiar but that is a good thing. The same anime style katana pings and slashes are back in all their glory. The ethereal-eastern style background music does a great job at setting up the tension throughout the game. Like any game on any portable harware, the sound is best experienced through headphones and the amount of fidelity that manages to come through really shines.
The controls for Sigma Plus are where the real additions to the game come into play. The player can now tap the screen to enter a first person mode in which they can glance around at the scenery or look for secrets. Once in first person mode, the player is able to tilt the Vita and manipulate the perspective, almost as if they are looking through a camera into the game world. This feature can also be used for ranged weapons such as the bow implimenting the touch screen by touching enemies to shoot in their direction. Though these new features work very well, it was nice to see that the developers included the option to use the old control scheme for these mechanics aswell for those not so into changing up their gaming experience. The rear touchpad is also used to increase the power of your Ninpo (magical abilities), this doesn’t do much to add to the gameplay but it doesn’t subtract from it either as it is give or take as convenient as the regular control method. All in all the added controls on the Vita work very will and do little to distract you from the game or seem gimmicky, they are acutally pretty convenient at times.
When it comes down to it, this is basically the same game that has alreay be released and re-released before and there are some issues that should have been adressed. But it does have a couple major difference going for it, this version is a console experience on a mobile device that adds innovative controls. if you were not a fan of the previous iterations of this game, the new controls and novelty of playing it on a mobile device will probably do little to enhance the experience so you should probably skip this one. On the other hand, If you enjoyed any of the previous versions of Ninja Gaiden, or you are a fan of action games in general you will not regret purchasing this game to beef up your Vita collection.