Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword for the Nintendo DS is a fantastic game, and is the best action game I’ve played recently. The graphics are beautiful (astonishingly good, considering the DS’s capabilities), but what’s really brilliant is the fact that the lightning fast movement from Ninja Gaiden Black has made the jump to the DS flawlessly. Combined with the incredibly intuitive and easy-to-learn touch screen controls, Dragon Sword makes you feel like a true ninja as soon as you put stylus to screen.
One of Ninja Gaiden Black’s surprising good points was its punishing difficulty level. It somehow managed to walk the fine line between being too frustrating to play and just difficult enough to become a major challenge that would eat away hours of your life. Dragon Sword is nowhere near as difficult (particularly when it comes to boss battles), but is still just as fun (disclaimer: I’ve also only played through on the normal difficulty as of yet; the higher difficulty levels will likely be more challenging). I think the main reason the DS version is so much easier is that the controls are far simpler. Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox required a lot of button pressing to get the same actions you can get in Dragon Sword simply by swiping the stylus across the screen a couple times.
I was particularly surprised by Dragon Sword’s story, which is cohesive and easy to understand. I’m still not 100% certain what happened in Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox, but Dragon Sword’s plot made perfect sense. Although Dragon Sword doesn’t tread much new ground (almost every enemy and locale is straight out of Ninja Gaiden Black), its new story combined with the nostalgia factor and constant action made me not mind the recycled aspect of most of the game’s enemies and so forth.
If you enjoy action games and own a DS, then Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword is a must-have. Team Ninja’s attention to detail and craftsmanship shines through every aspect of the game, and although it only took me five and a half hours to beat, I’ll easily get triple that (or more) playing through the harder difficulty levels and unlocking the in-game extras.
Now if only Ninja Gaiden 2 would come out a little sooner life would be perfect.