Video game publishers should continue to release console ports on PlayStation Vita under the condition that titles turn out as good as Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus. An enhanced port of the superb Ninja Gaiden 2, this gore-filled romp contains all of the head-slicing, body-busting violence from the original, with some new modes and touch support thrown for good measure. This effort easily outpaces last year's Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus in almost every respect. We say almost, because the game doesn't run as smoothly as its counterpart.
That being said, longtime fans will probably need to readjust their eyes upon viewing Sigma 2 Plus on the Vita's five-inch screen, as the noticeable drop in speed looks jarring compared to the game's predecessor. Hero Ryu Hayabusa, his ninja lady friends and the countless enemies lack some zip, while the reduced sharpness is somewhat disappointing considering the handheld's power.
Is it game breaking? Not necessarily. In fact, the action still runs at an impressively-steady clip, and you have access to Ryu's wide-range of moves and weapons that, when combined, allow you to decapitate and dismember foes in a most brutal fashion. In particular, guys walking around with one arm. Tap the triangle button, and you'll slice off their heads or reduce their bodies to mush, depending on the selected weapon.
You'll need all those clubs, katana blades and elixirs to defeat the game's myriad of ninjas, monsters and bosses. Capitalizing on patterns will see you through tough conflicts, but in the Ninja Gaiden tradition, death and subsequent restarts come early and often, even on the easiest difficulty.
As for new features, Tecmo Koei made use of the Vita's touch functionality, allowing you to execute weapon strikes with a simple screen tap. In addition, a new Tag Mission mode lets you switch between two characters on the fly while the computer controls the other, giving you the chance to experience not just Ryu, but also Ayane, Rachel and Momiji. Finally, a cool Ninja Race mode pits you against different bad guys in a frantic race to a death-fueled finale. Both of these modes do a wonderful job supplanting the campaign.
Performance aside, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus is a razor-sharp sequel that delivers over-the-top cut scenes, special moves and pulverizing attacks. Final verdict: A quality on-the-go beat-em-up that should find its way into your Vita library.
Review code provided by Tecmo Koei.
What's Hot:Ninja Gaiden 2 experience with bonus modes and touch controls, crazy amount of gore, dramatic boss fights and cut scenes.
What's Not:Runs a bit slower than the console edition, tiny item menu makes weapons and power-ups difficult to see.