The difference between the set narrative and gameplay in Ninja Gaiden


March 2, 2013 by hjang24

Paul Jang


Film 373

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.



2 thoughts on “The difference between the set narrative and gameplay in Ninja Gaiden

  1. jenniferashiru says:

    I find it interesting that there is this huge gap between the player and the player character, Ryu, during gameplay. It seems that most video games would want the player to feel connected to the player character. You are so right about the character being rendered differently in gameplay and narrative. With most genres of video games, the cutscenes reveal such a different character than we’re used to during gameplay, partly because we have control over the charcter. Like how Ryu is this fearless superhuman during the cutscenes, but he is rendered so vulnerable and susceptible during gameplay, courtesy of the player and creators of the game.

    This game makes me think of Tekken and its Story Mode—I always felt the need to dissociate the actual gameplay (battle) from the cutscenes because some characters would have these superhuman traits (i.e. Jin Kazama), but still lose fights to non-superhumans. I don’t know, it just seems rather difficult to be able to effectively and consistently render personal character traits during gameplay.

  2. kxrodri says:

    it’s intriguing to think that the narrative and the game play would be disconnected. It would be very difficult to create a game that based in which Ryu was the same in the narrative and the the game play. If Ryu was able to defeat his opponents without much effort during the game play, there would be no challenge. The game would be a series of 1 and 2 hits and enemies would present no challenge. On the other hand if Ryu was presented in the cut scenes the same way as in the game play, then the image that is Ryu would be completely different. He would no longer be seen as the invincible ninja, instead his character would seen more human than myth.

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