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Video game reviews
Ninja Gaiden review for XBOX
 
Ninja Gaiden game cover
Gamermall.com rating:
9.4

Ninja Gaiden was released to general critical acclaim. GameSpot called it "one of the best most challenging action adventure games ever made", and IGN said that it "sets a new standard for third-person action games in terms of length, depth, speed, and gore".Critics also regarded it to be one of the most difficult games released prior to 2007. Its remake, Ninja Gaiden Black, also impressed reviewers. GameSpot hailed it as having the best visual and audio presentation on the Xbox, and praised its new Mission Mode for "[distilling] the game down to its purest essentials". IGN called its release "a rare and welcome day", which "[brought their] excitement levels back to the first time [they] played the game".
From a technical point of view, critics regarded Ninja Gaiden and Black as the best of the available Xbox software at the time; the console hardware had been pushed to its limits without showing significant drops in performance. GameSpot was impressed with their "first-rate presentation" and said that no other games at that time came close in visuals and audio. According to IGN, the games could "make [them] momentarily forget about the next generation of consoles". Both Ninja Gaiden and Black were top-sellers, which led to them being compatible with the Xbox 360 for all regions on the new platform's release.
However, critics varied in their views on the technical aspects of Ninja Gaiden Sigma. The gaming site, 1UP.com, called the updated graphics as "a gorgeous reworking of the modern ninja classic".Pro-G, however, said that they were average by next-generation standards and showed occasional "tearing, jagged edges, and miss matched collision between bloodstains and walls". Various flaws also troubled 1UP—despite installing the game on the local hard drive, they encountered frequent loading delays, even in combat. They also noted visual glitches, such as screen tearing when the camera moved. These problems made the game "feel like a bit of a slapdash port". Although reviewers appreciated the retention of the gameplay of previous versions, Sigma's lack of new attractive features caused them to question its worth as "a remake of a remake". Pro-G said that Sigma was not worth its full-game price tag because it "has, in effect, been available for years in one form or another". Eurogamer stated that Sigma lacked the "wow factor" when compared to God of War and its sequel. The 1UP critic felt that shaking the Sixaxis controller to power up a ninpo was "silly" and a "foolishly tacked-on" way to use the controller. IGN was not excited about playing as Rachel and wished to "get back to Ryu's sections simply because he's more fun to play". DailyGame, however, appreciated the change of pace, saying that Rachel will bring a "much-needed respite for newcomers and provide something new for experienced players".
Ninja Gaiden attracted criticism for the way on-screen action is framed by the game's camera. The default camera system centers the action on Ryu and his surroundings, but reviewers were frustrated by occasions when the camera locked on to part of the scenery, thus losing track of Ryu. Tecmo attempted to address this with the introduction of manual camera controls in the Hurricane Packs, and most critics judged that either the camera frame was usually acceptable, or that Ninja Gaiden was a good enough game that its flaws could be overlooked.
The Ninja Gaiden games gained a reputation throughout the gaming community for their difficulty and attention to detail. Although they appealed to gamers who, like Pro-G, wanted a "bloody hard, but also bloody good" challenge it was feared that casual gamers would find the learning curve daunting. IGN warned that gamers with lesser skills might not "get as much out of this game as others due to [its] incredible difficulty". Clive Thompson focused on Ninja Gaiden in his Slate article examining the motivation for playing difficult games. He contends that extreme levels of challenge can be initially very frustrating and may cause a game to be abandoned in disgust. However, where a game also rewards a player's perseverance by teaching the skills required to overcome its challenges, that player will have the motivation to finish the game. Ninja Gaiden, in his opinion, strikes the correct balance between challenge and reward; completion brings "a sort of exhausted exhilaration, like finally reaching the end of War and Peace".
Consumers purchased 1.5 million copies of Ninja Gaiden and Black to August 2007, with the bulk of these sales going to North America and Europe. According to the NPD Group, in its first month Ninja Gaiden sold 362,441 copies in the United States, with Sigma selling 63,637. Next Generation reported that as of April 2008, 470,000 copies of Sigma have been sold in Europe and North America. These sales figures reflect Tecmo's decision to target the non-Japanese market. Japanese gamers were not particularly excited by the games—according to Itagaki, only 60,000 copies of Ninja Gaiden were sold in Japan in the four months following its release, and Famitsu gives a figure of 76,095 copies for Sigma in its first six months. The critical and commercial successes of Ninja Gaiden have led CNET and GameSpot Asia to induct the game into their Halls of Fame.

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