Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus: Ryu gets a third encore

March 5, 2012

If there’s anything the Ninja Gaiden series is known for, it’s these two things: it’s undeniably slick and punishingly difficult. Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, a 2012 Vita-enhanced port of the 2007 PS3-enhanced port of the 2005 remastered version of the 2004 Xbox game (I know), is still both of these things. Most of the time, anyway.

There’s more to the story, but basically you’re Ryu and you’re flipping around and slashing dudes. There’s definitely an element of this game that suggests its last-gen origins, as it retains that no-frills nature of the action and platforming segments that we have seen less of since those days. It’s not always a bad thing, though, since not every game needs to have the cinematic depth and level of detail of, say, Uncharted, and this approach allows Team Ninja to focus on the combat.

The game does a good job of both getting around and exploiting its reputation for punishing difficulty. Want to just play and have some fun? Hero Mode gives you an easier go of it and more chances to make flashy moves. Are you a masochist? Team Ninja knows they’re your patron saint, so there are challenge modes and even-higher difficulties for crazy people like you. Still, though, there’s not much new here for people who have played the PS3 Sigma to dig into, though that release’s wealth of content is here, too.

So what did Sigma Plus do to incorporate silly Vita features? (You knew they’d do at least a bit of that, right?) You occasionally send out attacks using the rear touch pad and front touch screen. The game, while certainly revered, benefits greatly from some additional aiming help to compensate for the middling camera. There’s even some motion control in there. It’s not great. You can avoid it, for the most part. Do so.

If you’re a series fan just looking for another excuse to play through the game, Sigma Plus is certainly a good way to do that. If you’ve never played Ninja Gaiden in its previous iterations, it’s certainly one every gamer should experience and a shiny Vita screen is a great home for doing just that. It’s a bit harder to recommend it to those in the middle of the spectrum, though, since it is that same game, after all.

Pros: Combat is still slick, extra features abound, touch-screen aiming is nice
Cons: You may have played it one of the other three times, motion control is weird

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.