Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 clutters its already dumb world with more unbelievable, ridiculous nonsense to such an extreme degree that Crispy Gamer's Scott Jones wound up walking away from the game

What's Hot: Hot ninja action

What's Not: Experience is cluttered with superfluous content; No blood/violence; Still makes no sense whatsoever

Crispy Gamer Says: Fry

I'm a big "Ninja Gaiden" fan. I don't know why, but all the zipping around and hacking up ninja-demons makes me feel great.

And I like the fact that the "Ninja Gaiden" games are notoriously difficult. I think all gamers find one pain-in-the-neck series to call their own, and then proceed to finish all the games on Expert, just to prove that they can do it. It's like that one semester of college that I made the dean's list. Getting all As, just like finishing "Ninja Gaiden" on its hardest difficulty setting, gives tangible proof of my unrealized potential.

Anyway, "Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2" is a souped-up version of "Ninja Gaiden II." I should be jumping up and down and waving my hands and crying like those girls do in "The Beatles: Rock Band."

I'm not.

This game ostensibly is a "Ninja Gaiden II" lover's dream come true: Team Missions that are playable both online and offline; the ability to record your finest it-slices-it-dices moments to the PlayStation 3's hard drive for posterity; three unlockable characters -- the chesty Rachel, the purple-haired Ayane and newcomer Momiji -- with their own skill sets and weapons; and a single-player experience that has been retooled (but not refined; more on this in a minute).

All of this additional content should feel like getting a bonus second dessert. It doesn't. Instead, it feels like it clutters and sullies the original experience with unnecessary junk.

It's kind of like this: I had a piece of cake that was perfectly delicious, and I was enjoying my piece of cake, when suddenly someone came along and poured a gallon of frosting all over my cake and then dumped jelly beans on top of the frosting.

Underneath all the additional frosting and jelly beans, my once perfectly delicious piece of cake is suffocating to death.

Example: Very early in the game, for no apparent reason whatsoever, a giant Egyptian statue suddenly comes to life and begins walking around downtown Tokyo. For the record, unless I've completely lost my mind here, there were no giant Egyptian statues in the original game.

Suddenly, the thing is attacking me. It's a boss fight! And it's an upper-torso-only-so-you-have-to-target-the-hands boss fight, which is my least-favorite kind of boss fight. The statue's hands batted me around a few times. Then they crushed me. Ooooof! My health was dwindling, thanks to this dumb, stupid boss who never appeared in the original game.


After chopping away at his hands for a while, the statue rested his head on the top of the building like it was nap time. I poked him in the eye. He went away.

But then he came back later in the level! Again, I started work on the hands. He crushed me several times. I was eating all of my Spiritual Life herbs, even though I knew that I should be hoarding them for another boss fight that was coming up. Again, variations on "THIS IS RIDICULOUS" rang out. Eventually, the statue put his head down. I chopped and chopped. He was defeated. At this point his face, which is made of stone, totally fell off! And that brings us to the end of this encounter.

There are other tweaks that no one other than superfans (me) will notice. For example, those pain-in-the-neck, knife-wielding dog-wolves appear much earlier in the game now. I imagine one of the game designers, trying to figure out where to add content to the game, wrote these very words down on a notepad at some point: "NOTE: BRING KNIFE-WIELDING DOG-WOLVES INTO THE GAME AT EARLIER JUNCTURE."

I also nearly scratched a hole in my toupee trying to figure out, for the life of me, why Team Ninja would tone down the violence in the game. In the Xbox 360 game, limbs practically rained down from the sky. Blood flowed. The battles were always tough, yes, but the cathartic finish-him moments gave me a much-deserved adrenaline rush.

In this version, whenever you behead an enemy, blue air comes blowing out. Yes, BLUE AIR. What, are they filled with some kind of gas? And some of the Ultimate Techniques (hold down that triangle button), while still vicious, lack the acrobatic buzz-saw bite of the Techniques seen in the 360 game.

As for the ability to record gameplay videos: If you ever find me leisurely enjoying my old "Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2" gameplay movies on a Sunday afternoon, please chop my head off and make my blue air come out.

But the ultimate ridiculous moment? It comes at the end of the game's third chapter. I'd just defeated a tough boss -- Alexei, one of the four Greater Fiends, who sprays lightning everywhere. I was totally wiped and trying to catch my breath and assess what, if any, Spiritual Life herbs I still had left. I was enjoying a post-boss-fight moment of peace when suddenly THE STATUE OF LIBERTY COMES ALIVE AND BEGINS ATTACKING ME.

Was there a Statue of Liberty boss fight in the original game?

Ladies and gentlemen, the answer is a very definitive "No."

To make matters worse, this wholly superfluous boss fight is identical to the Egyptian statue boss fight. The Statue of Liberty strolls around for a while, then gets into the Hudson River. Then she plants her hands on the side of Liberty Island, or whatever it's called. And again it's another You Versus Upper Torso boss fight.

And all of this is really just the beginning of an avalanche of disappointing moments. Which brings me to my larger point: As counterintuitive as this may sound, more content does not always improve a game.

"Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2" is not a refinement of the original game. It does not bring any clarity, or dignity, to the Ninja Gaiden world. (Two things that it desperately needs.) Instead, "Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2" clutters its already dumb world with more unbelievable, ridiculous nonsense to such an extreme degree that I wound up walking away from this game -- a game that I previously adored -- more confused than ever, and left to ponder why I ever loved any of this horseshit garbage in the first place.

This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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Video Games: Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 - PS3

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