Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos

I played Ninja Gaiden II long before the original and now realize how much of an improvement was made. Ninja Gaiden II does almost everything better and was always one of my favorites.

Plot: 8 out of 10

I’m not gonna lie. This is the one area that got worse. While the original cleverly mixed a revenge story with all manner of twists and turns, this one is just the “save the girl” story that was pretty much standard back then. I would have rated this lower if not for how few games had a real story back then. Thus, it gets three or four points more than it would get today.

Corny but family-friendly insult.

 Graphics: 8 out of 10

Very similar to the original, except more detailed. After a year of advances, that’s to be expected. It’s nice to see the quasi-3-D backgrounds and cutscenes again. Still, other series (Super Mario Bros.ZeldaCastlevania, etc.) did a complete retooling of their graphical systems. Not seeing that here is kind of disappointing.

Sound: 10 out of 10

A fantastic soundtrack, this game certainly has. The sound effects are also certainly well-done.

Gameplay: 10 out of 10

This game improves everything in the original. A new “shadow doubles” power-up that creates inner red clones of the protagonist, Ryu Hayabusa, is extremely cool and valuable. Other improvements include making it easier to climb walls.

Level design is also quite solid. There’s even a couple areas with unusual environments (you’ll know them when you get to them).

Ninja or not, i’d coat up for the snows.

Challenge: 8 out of 10

The difficulty has gone down from the original, but the length of the game has significantly increased. That should satisfy most pros while leaving the game accessible to novices. Just remember that it being an old school game, Ninja Gaiden II doesn’t have a save feature, so make sure you’ve got some spare time.

Overall: 9 out of 10

I compared the game way too much to the original, didn’t I? Ah, well. the point is Ninja Gaiden II is a superior sequel and one of the best games on the NES besides.


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