Reggie Carolipio: Infused with the kind of old-school ruthlessness that punished every wrong move and made success that much sweeter, Tomonobu Itagaki's resurrection of the classic title for the next generation was nothing short of a humbling experience for many gamers. The fantastic bosses, whacked-out monsters, and the titanic climax would become an action masterpiece filled with the kind of sword-swinging, shuriken-slicing satisfaction that brought out everyone's inner ninja. Slick controls, an arsenal of weapons, and the ability to craft protagonist Ryu Hayabusa's skills would enable players to execute some of the most brutal moves in gaming. The awesome backdrops serving as personal stomping grounds are easily among some of the best eye candy that the Xbox had to offer. It shouldn't be a surprise that Team Ninja would revisit their masterpiece with an official sequel that promises to raise the body count and the carnage levels to levels with which only Itagaki could be satisfied. With such firm footing behind it, breaking out your old copy to brush up on your skills might not be such a bad thing to do just to keep up.
Anthony Chambers: Even though Ninja Gaiden was one of the best games to be released on the Xbox, it frustrated me to no end; and even though three different versions have been released, they were all quite difficult. The sequel is now coming out exclusively for the Xbox 360, with decapitated limbs, more weapons, and tons of blood. It looks like Team Ninja has taken pretty good care of the franchise, and I cannot wait to find out more details about what other features it's going to have.
Chris "Atom" DeAngelus: Don't feel bad if the mere mention of Ninja Gaiden makes you want to cry. The original Xbox title was difficult enough to reduce even the toughest of gamers into quivering heaps on the ground. Once players got past its bone-crushing difficulty level, they discovered a fantastic title that combined a fluid and innovative fighting engine with top-of-the-line graphics in a way that made even Devil May Cry sit up and take notice. While Ninja Gaiden has already received two remakes, gamers have been left hungry for a sequel, and that's where Ninja Gaiden II comes in. With updated graphics, new and even more violent weapons, and (hopefully) a more forgiving difficulty level, Ninja Gaiden II's Ryu Hayabusa is going to be one ninja you want to keep your eye on.
Xav de Matos: Team Ninja returns to top form with what promises to be one of the most beautifully horrific titles in 2008, Ninja Gaiden II. The Microsoft-published Xbox 360 exclusive is the true sequel to the 2005 critical and commercial darling that pushed the boundaries of action and gore. Ryu returns to thwart evil-doers in a variety of locales ranging from ancient Japanese villages to modern metropolitan spectacles. While all of the details have yet to be revealed, Itagaki-san promises that Ninja Gaiden II will be one of the most intense and graphically satisfying action-adventures to ever be released. We're sharpening our katanas in anticipation.
Geson Hatchett: Legend has it that when the original Xbox Ninja Gaiden was being developed, people complained about its high difficulty, so Tomonobu Itagaki made it even harder. Here, we can't help but imagine if he looked at all the video game controversy floating around, and said, "Okay, let's add strategic dismemberment to our game engine!" Still, hey, this is the same great hardcore ninja action we all know and love. It's hard to see where this one could go wrong, so this easily makes it on my list of hopefuls for 2008.
James King: Where DMC is more lighthearted and comical, Ninja Gaiden is serious and brutal. This is the only other series that can really stand toe-to-toe with DMC in terms of action, pacing and fighting intensity. Ninja Gaiden, like its DMC counterpart, delivers intense action, finely tuned responsive controls, challenging monsters, and lots of weapons and abilities from which to choose. Ninja Gaiden II seems to be reinforcing the series' brutal and visceral feeling tenfold with loads of gore, blood and incredibly violent killing animations. This could lead to the game getting lots of heat for being overly violent, or an incredibly fun and entertaining experience to be had for the whole family, or possibly both. Either way, I am really looking forward to playing Ninja Gaiden II.
Tony "OUberLord" Mitera: If you have played the first Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox, then you know that it was not a title that could possibly be forgotten. Sure, it had the gorgeous graphics and fluid gameplay that was to be expected by any triple-A title of the time, but it was also a game that, given the chance, would make Gandhi throw the controller in absolute frustration. It was tough, pretty, and incredibly compelling; now the sequel promises to plunge gamers right back into that love/hate relationship. If nothing else, Ninja Gaiden II will once again be a game to which gamers of this generation will point as one of the most satisfyingly difficult titles they've played all year. Due to the difficulty level, the original game would essentially break you down right off the bat and build you back up in its own image; after that, the gameplay simply clicked, and every single fight, big or small, was more satisfying than the last. Here's hoping that the sequel delivers that same experience.
Erik "NekoIncardine" Ottosen: Ryu Hayabusa is awesome. Whether it's the interminably classic (and difficult!) Ninja Gaiden series, or his high-speed styles in the Dead or Alive series, he is possibly one of the most awesome ninja ever to be rendered in a video game. Ninja Gaiden Sigma on the original Xbox set exceptional standards, as well as Team Ninja's general insistence on sticking to Microsoft's platform (one of the few Japanese developers to do so). The exception for Ninja Gaiden Black, an enhanced and extended remake of Ninja Gaiden Sigma, has set awfully high standards for the ninja's adventures, but somehow, I cannot honestly see Itagaki failing to uphold them beautifully in Ninja Gaiden II.
Matthew Szlapka: Taken from the Xbox 360 canon and linking to the NES slightly, Ninja Gaiden II will not disappoint you on flashy ninja moves and awesome weapons in a seamless environment. Just get ready for a bloodbath; arms, legs, and other assorted body parts will fly all over the place as Ryu takes a new, darker and more ruthless path than usual.
Thomas Wilde: The fact that I've beaten the Xbox Ninja Gaiden is still something I'm proud of, in that weird way you're proud of gaming accomplishments. It was, and still is, challenging in a mostly fair way that very few other games have even tried to duplicate, although releasing two additional enhanced versions of the game was a bit much. Ninja Gaiden II ought to be the first and last word in action gameplay for the year, unless Devil May Cry 4 somehow manages to raise that ante.
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