Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus – PlayStation Vita
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: Feb 26, 2013
Genre: Fighting
Reviewed by Mark Smith

Review Score: 3.5 of 5

When the PlayStation Vita first launched one of the first games we reviewed was Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus and here we are, just a year later with another “Plus” review for Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. Team Ninja has ported over their bloody console fighter and added a few tweaks for the Vita that just might have diehard fans considering a double-dip.

Ryu Hayabusa, the iconic super ninja of the Ninja Gaiden franchise, returns in an all-new adventure where he must hunt down the Demon Statue that has been stolen by the wicked Black Spider Ninja Clan to prevent the resurrection of the evil Archfiend. From Tokyo to New York, follow Ryu as he encounters vicious enemies and acquires an extensive assortment of ninja weaponry along the way.

The Vita’s unique control scheme puts a new spin on traditional controller gameplay by implementing an intuitive control system using the front and rear touch screens and the six-axis motion controls of the PS Vita. Using the front panel and six-axis, players can access a precise firing mode to take aim at enemies while launching projectile weaponry as well as trigger special Ninpo attacks. In Tag Mission, players can execute devastating “Combined Ninpo” attacks utilizing the front touch screen and rear touch pad.

The camera retains a few of its claustrophobic issues from the previous game, zooming and panning around with a mind of its own, but once you learn to go with it and stop trying to fight the virtual director of this Kung Fu action flick you’ll find the new intuitive control scheme makes it easier to hit what you cannot always see. Chaining attacks into brutal combos and unleashing your ultimate techniques will become second nature in no time.

Ninja Gaiden has always been synonymous with brutal, almost oppressive difficulty, so for noobs or those just wanting to experience the story, the “Hero” mode has returned. The new “Ninja Race” mode adds the element of a ticking clock to the game providing a great new way to challenge your friends. The new “Tag Mission” mode allows you to pick your favorite two ninjas and then swap between them during the game depending on the situation, and look for a lot more female-centric action when Ayane, Rachel, and Momiji take center stage in newly designed costumes.

Graphically, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus looks nearly as good on the Vita as it did on the PS3 with only a few reductions in overall texture detail to coincide with the smaller character models and some aliasing issues that create some jagged lines. There are the occasional framerate hits but it mostly runs at a solid 30fps (still half that of its console cousin) and the massive bosses aren’t nearly as intimidating on the smaller screen. Blood and gore has never been greater with blood splashing the screen as limbs are neatly sliced from bodies. The sound effects for blade slicing through tender flesh is almost sickening (in a good way), and the energetic music and reasonably adequate voice acting get the job done. I was sad that the dual language support was nixed and we were left with only the rather poor English dub.

Also excised from the Vita version was the enjoyable online co-op experience. Admittedly, this isn’t as much of an issue being on a portable system, but it might annoy gamers who actually have friends with Vita’s and their own copy of the game. Personally, my Vita gaming is almost entirely a solo experience so the new Tag Mode that replaced the co-op multiplayer was perfectly fine for me, even if the massive assault waves of enemies were the source of nearly all my major framerate drops.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus doesn’t replace the console experience, but it does serve as a great way to take this action-brawler on the road. Just about any complaints I had from the original game last year have been addressed making this sequel one of the better action-fighting-adventure games on the Vita this year.