March 2, 2013 by hjang24
Difference between the set narrative and gameplay in Ninja Gaiden 2
Ninja Gaiden 2 is a 3rd person 3D action adventure game that continues the plot line from the first Ninja Gaiden game released by Team Ninja on the Xbox. It follows a ninja with incomparable skill named Ryu Hayabusa on a journey to reclaim a relic that had been safeguarded by his family to prevent the end of the world. In Ninja Gaiden 2 it is shown in the trailers that Ryu is back with an even more improved set of weaponry. On top of his almost seemingly endless amount of weapons there is a one year time lapse between the first and second games, which indicates that he has been training for that amount of time as well. All this is well, but as I played through the game I couldn’t help but feel how different the character was during gameplay in comparison to the cut scenes and set narrative.
In the narrative Ryu is constantly revered and shown much respect by foes, villagers, government, and fellow ninja. Along with being called superhuman in cut scenes and never ever showing even a glimpse of fear or even surprise, Ryu always stroke the audience with awe and wonder. When I started to play the game at first I felt like Ryu Hayabusa being inhumanly quick with enhanced strength. I was able to jump great distances, run on walls, and more. Having such abilities, I had to start thinking as a Ryu, for example, at moments in the game there are places where no human would be able to reach even with a ladder, but by combining your ninja like abilities such as jumping from one wall to another it makes such feats possible. However once I was faced with enemies I soon realized that being a ninja proved to be much more difficult. Ryu was not the same all powerful ninja as the narrative proclaimed him to be. The game proved much harder to be, even with an impressive arsenal of ninja magic, weapons, and super human abilities death was imminent if much care and concentration was added by the player to the game. While I was playing the game I felt like it was too easy to get over powered and I felt fragile almost everywhere I went.
As mentioned before Ryu’s foes even acknowledged his prowess and longed to fight him in the narrative, yet during gameplay it was extremely difficult to stay alive against these enemies. Granted his foes varied from humans to incredible monsters there were too many moments where I would watch Ryu’s health bar decline quite quickly as I watched Ryu getting pummeled. At first I thought it was just me, then I realized that in the game there was not even an easy setting, it was normal, hard, or very hard. I decided to research further so I looked back at the old NES games of Ninja Gaiden; they were all acknowledged as extremely difficult games. On online blogs and reviews players vented their constant frustration with the difficulty of the game, which was quite humorous because it would often include how many controllers they had broken due to game rage. The narrative and gameplay is beautiful but I find the character development quite misleading. In all cut scenes even after boss fights Ryu is calm, unscathed and only breathing hard at most. Yet, to even reach those cut scenes the amount of peril, re-spawning, and buying health potions is countless.
In Ninja Gaiden the philosophy shown behind Ryu is him constantly slashing forward; constantly killing and obliterating everything in his path to achieve his goal. In the narrative he is shown only being armed with a couple kunai (ninja knives) and a katana. It is laughable to think that those two weapons would suffice in surviving in this game. The game requires one too many weapons compared to what is shown in the narrative. Ryu is always shown using his katana in every single situation, yet during gameplay it is quite different. The player needs to use shuriken, bows and arrows, an underwater gun, war hammers (the list goes on) to solve puzzles and make progress in the game. Even certain weapons help Ryu in fighting different types of enemies, choosing the wrong weapon often leads to Ryu’s imminent doom. In the end as impressive as Ryu was, the game was just made to be too difficult and it proved to be very difficult to connect the narrative to the gameplay. It almost felt like I was playing and watching two different characters, if Ryu was given a different skin during gameplay I am positive I wouldn’t be able to guess that this was in fact Ryu Hayabusa.