Ninjas, a developer's go-to when they want to create something that players will like. There are two ways to portray ninjas: the traditional stealth way like in the Tenchu series and in the action way or as I see it the Ninja Gaiden way. Ninja Gaiden took what we know about ninjas and put them on an action pack course. Over the years the series was notorious for its difficult, yet addictive gameplay. Now that legacy has slashed its way to the Vita once again with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus.
Sigma 2 Plus takes place a year after the events of the first Sigma Plus, which is somewhat fitting since the first game debuted the same year the Vita released. With a year to improve on a game that came on the PS3 four years ago, can Sigma 2 Plus slash its way into a hit?
Ninja Console Action on the Vita - When the Vita was first revealed, Sony boasted that they could take the graphics and the gameplay of any of the games in the PS3 library and replicate that same experience on to the Vita. They proved it with Uncharted Golden Abyss and they have proved it again with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus. The gore, the over the top action, the insane enemies and bosses have been ported over to the Vita and look as every bit as its console counterpart. Even the series legendary difficulty has been ported, with Team Ninja pulling no punches. In fact, the CG cut scenes actually look much better on the OLED screen and seem to have more color to them.
Exclusive Content - Being that Sigma 2 Plus is a port on the Vita, it would make sense for the game to have exclusive modes and features that use the Vita’s touch screen and pad. Touch features are a given in the game as players will be able to use the fronts screen to look around in first person mode and to fire when using a bow. Regarding more modes, instead of the Ninja Dog mode, the series version of extra easy, the Vita version of Sigma 2 has Hero Mode. There’s also a time attack mode called Ninja Race that has players speed through various levels as fast as they can, killing as many enemies as they can. Then there’s Tag Mode which is similar to the console’s Team Mission mode but with the new characters added in and having the ability to switch between the two.New Levels For All Characters - In addition to the new content found in Sigma 2 Plus, new levels were added in for each of the characters. While it’s great to see Ryu get more levels, it’s just as good to see Ayane and Momiji get some time to shine. Both characters were fun to use in the main story and also in the Tag mode as well.
Choppy Frame Rate - One of the big flaws that Sigma 2 Plus has is the very choppy frame rate. When two to three enemies are on screen along with Ryu, everything runs smoothly. But once more enemies start to jump in on the fight; the game for some reason starts to slow down. This is most prevalent with boss fights that call on minions to help and in Tag mode. At first, the developer suggested that speeding up camera controls would fix this problem. This doesn’t really fix the problem since all it does is just make the camera controls move faster on the right analog stick. I’m not sure why this is happening but hopefully there is a proper fix soon.
Content Missing From Original - To get some perspective after playing Sigma 2 Plus, I went back and played the PS3 version of Sigma 2. Other than shrinking the action down to the Vita’s size, everything seemed the same. After looking at them both closely, it seems that some content is missing on the Vita version that was originally on the PS3 version. The Japanese audio option is missing and the ability to play co-op in Tag mode is also missing from the game for some reason. Now not having the option for Japanese audio is understandable, but with the Vita’s Wi-Fi and 3G models, online co-op would not have been a problem. Even an ad-hoc mode would have been ideal if the dev team was worried about costs, but even then that option isn’t in the game either.
I’m not against ports of games that are on home consoles, after all I own the Vita versions of Street Fighter x Tekken, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Persona 4 Golden. The difference between these games and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus is that each Vita version of these games were taken and repurposed for the Vita in mind instead of just ported over like Sigma 2 Plus. That’s what Sigma 2 Plus feels, just a port.
The game itself isn’t all that bad, new characters, new levels for said characters, exclusive content and the fact that all of what made the console version of the game good is there. However with choppy frame rate and content taken out for no reason, it brings the game down. With that in mind, only pick up Sigma 2 Plus if you’re a hardcore fan of the series.
*This review was based on the PS Vita version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*