Thursday, September 27, 2012

Games You Probably Haven’t Played: Ninja Blade by Matthew W.A.

This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of articles for the Blophish, called “Games You Probably Haven't Tried Yet.” It isn't about really old games, or even specifically about indie games. Instead, it’s about the games that came out over the last few years that fell through the cracks. For whatever reason, maybe they were buggy on release, got overshadowed by larger releases, or got panned by a critic who just hated the genre. Think of what IGN did to God Hand, it was a tragedy! Most of these games are fairly cheap, but still hold up to modern standards of graphics and gameplay. I will also be doing some reviews of new game releases as well as movies, but that is for another time…

So, this week's game is a little known title called Ninja Blade from From Software (yes, it's actually called that), the developers of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. Ninja Blade was intended to compete with the Ninja Gaiden games, and it was a flop. It got middling reviews, and was quickly forgotten. This is a real shame. The game was overly dependent on “press x not to die” type segments, and was extremely linear, but it was also extremely fun. The mechanics are very tight, and the combat is difficult but rewarding. The game is also completely nuts. The game focuses on boss fights more then anything else, and every single one is spectacular. The first few levels involve killing a spider the size of a semi-truck with a wrecking ball, riding a motorcycle down the side of a skyscraper while a giant worm spits cars at you, and fighting a dragon that is attacking a Boeing 747 mid-air.

The story is about as loony as the set pieces might suggest, though it does touch on some interesting themes like self sacrifice, though not in the way you might expect. It is also worth noting that the game is hard. The Souls games are considered to be the most difficult games available on current generation consoles, and though standard enemies don't pose much of a threat, bosses can be very punishing on normal difficulty, and actually gain additional moves and phases as well as increased damage and health on higher difficulties. One boss in particular is nearly impossible on normal difficulty, because he spams an electric attack that is extremely difficult to dodge and locks you in place when it hits you allowing the next few rounds of projectiles to hit you as well. The floor is also covered with water in that section.

That being said, the game is extremely satisfying once you get the hang of it, and probably costs next to nothing at Gamestop. If you want to see some gameplay, here is a video of me running through the first level up to the first boss on Hard difficulty (Editors note: video currently unavailable. We encourage you to look up Ninja Blade Gameplay on YouTube). You might be wondering, why are there keyboard prompts as well as 360 pad prompts for controls and quick time events? Well the answer is simple: I am playing on PC, and the port is a piece of garbage. The game is virtually unplayable without a controller, and the in-game menus flat-out refuse to work with a mouse. So, do yourself a favor and buy it on PS3 or Xbox360.

I hope you enjoyed the first in what I hope will become an ongoing series of articles. If you have any comments, or would like to have a game that you feel got the short end of the stick featured in this column, please post a comment! Next week, Alpha Protocol!

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