After seeing a few updates and re-releases, Ninja Gaiden finally spawned a sequel on June 3, 2008. The game continues the saga of head ninja Ryu Hayabusa and is once again developed by Tecmo's Team Ninja. This time around, however, Microsoft is handling the publishing duties. Lead designer and now-former head of Team Ninja, Tomonobu Itagaki, stated that this would be his last Ninja Gaiden game. This statement made more sense in the days following the game's release, as Itagaki has since left Tecmo and Team Ninja, and is currently taking legal action against the company in a dispute over promised bonuses. The gameplay in Ninja Gaiden II is similar to that of the original Xbox game to where one can go from one game to the other with a minimal learning curve. However, it has also been improved upon in nearly every way including finishing moves referred to as "obliteration techniques," a vast array of both melee and ranged weapons, and a menu used to switch weapons, ninpo, and use items on the fly.
This Ninja Gaiden game features a purely linear storyline where the only deviating paths from the main one are small areas which contain items, and with only 2 exceptions, the same place will never be visited twice. Because of this, a vast array of environments are visited as Ryu attempts to defeat a demonic cult attempting to revive the Archfiend. Along the way, he must defeat four greater fiends who have existed since ancient times and rule over their own element, the leader of the Spider Ninja Clan, the Archfiend himself, and many other large creatures which impair his path.
One year after the original Ninja Gaiden for the NES, the story of Ninja Gaiden II starts off in Tokyo, where the blacksmith Muramasa is visited by the attractive Sonia. Sonia is a CIA agent in search of the Ninja Ryu Hayabusa. Unfortunately, Muramasa has no idea where Ryu is. Sonia is about to leave when they get attacked by Black Spider Ninjas. Sonia proves no match for these ninjas, but suddenly Ryu comes to her aid out of nowhere. Ryu is unable to prevent the the Black Spider Ninjas from taking her away though. Ryu races around the Tokyo skyscrapers slaughtering enemies left and right, and eventually he arrives at a skyscraper where Sonia is being held captive. Ryu, being the showoff that he is, climbs the skyscraper next to it, spots Sonia and another woman and leaps towards the building. He eventually arrives at the roof of the skyscraper, where he finds Sonia and the other woman, Elizébet, as they fly away in a helicopter. With some well-aimed shurikens, Ryu manages to force Elizébet to release Sonia and catches her.
Sonia tells Ryu about an attack on Hayabusa Village by the Black Spider Ninjas, as they wish to steal the Demon Statue being kept there. Ryu quickly returns to the village, and after slicing through countless Black Spider Ninjas, finds his father, Joe Hayabusa fighting the Black Spider Clan's leader, Genshin. Joe loses, as does Ryu. Then Elizébet enters the scene, who takes away the Demon Statue despite Ryu's and Joe's efforts. Joe orders his son to retrieve the Statue, and Ryu is on his way in search of Elizébet.
A chase commences that takes Ryu all over the globe, through various large cities like New York, where he encounters Greater Fiend of Lightning Alexei, Venice, where he fights Volf, Ruler of Storms, and Paris, where he defeats Zedonius, Fiend master of flames.
Ryu eventually finds Elizébet, and along with her High Priest Dagra Dai, they intend to use the Demon Statue to resurrect the Archfiend Vazdah. Ryu duels and defeats Elizébet. Genshin, who has watched the battle from a distance, informs Ryu that Vazdah will be resurrected in Mount Fuji, a mountain that happens to lie in the Hayabusa Village's backyard. Ryu heads there, and receives The Eye of the Dragon from Ayane. At the foot of the mountain, Ryu meets Genshin, and they fight to the death. Ryu comes out as the victor.
In his journey through the mountain, Ryu defeats the three Greater Fiends once again, and rescues Sonia. Genshin returns yet again as well, but yet again he finds himself defeated at the hands of Ryu.
Ryu also fights Elizébet and defeats her. After defeating every single one of his great servants, Ryu fights Dagra Dai. The priest loses, but uses his lifeforce to resurrect Vazdah. Ryu fights Vazdah in the center of Mount Fuji, and defeats him. At this point, everything points to a happy ending, but a drop of Ryu's blood is enough to reawaken Vazdah. Vazdah drags Ryu down to the bottom to the volcano where to they fight once more. Ryu proves he is the greatest ninja who ever lived by defeating Vazdah once and for all.
After the credits roll, Ryu plants Genshin's sword in the ground and takes a bow. Then he takes off.
The gameplay in Ninja Gaiden II doesn't make dramatic changes to the previous game, but there's a collection of additional weapons to use, including a scythe, claws, tonfa, and kusarigama. New ninpo magic has also been added. The game also packs in a lot more gore this time around, with streams of blood spewing from enemy wounds, as well as the ability to dismember your foes. As you slash through enemies with the simple two button setup ( X for Light Slash Attacks, Y for Heavy Overpowering Attacks) arms and legs fly around through a slew of enemy blood.
The combat this time around focuses heavily on the exploitation of invincibility windows, much like how the original focuses on defensive play and evasive maneuvering. With the harder settings, a constant barrage of rocket and incendiary shuriken spam makes it necessary to time Obliteration & Ultimate Techniques so that the invulnerability afforded during their animations prevents damage being taken from what are often otherwise unavoidable attacks.
The limb removal mechanic is far more than purely cosmetic. It presents a new risk-reward element to the gameplay. The reward is that removing limbs makes the enemies much slower and able to be instantly killed with an OT, which makes a good strategy present itself in using wide-sweeping combos to debilitate as many enemies as possible at once, allowing you to focus on other groups as they limp towards you. The risk is that those enemies now will focus solely on doing a near-lethal suicidal grab attack on you if you're within range which causes major damage. This creates the necessity for a lot of precision movement, dashing around doing OTs at exactly the right moment, and dashing away from their grab moves.
Also, a move that was important for higher difficulty levels in the last game increases in relevance this time around. That move was referred to as "roll canceling" by fans of the last game, which probably translates to "dash canceling" in this game, as the roll has been changed to a dash. What this move entails is blocking an attack and dashing in a direction the moment your guard is broken by a heavy attack. This move immediately cancels the stumble animation of a guard break, and relocates Ryu before he can be pummeled by a heavy attack with his guard down. Given the enemies' increased frequency of guard break attacks in this game, this move becomes absolutely necessary to use as often as possible, with lateral dash-canceling becoming especially important against bosses like Genshin. This move is referred to in-game as "Path of the Furious Wind", but boy is that a mouthful.
In conjunction with the significantly increased game speed compared to the last game, Ninja Gaiden II presents a considerably ratcheted up challenge for newcomers and veteran players alike, largely in part to the wide range of difficulty selection available.
Path of the Acolyte– The lowest difficulty level, it is designed specifically for people who have not played many action games or aren't very good at action games. Whereas “ Ninja Dog Mode” was really just the normal difficulty with extra health items thrown in, Path of the Acolyte has the inherent difficulty toned down significantly. Along with more forgiving health regeneration, expect to see smaller groups of less aggressive enemies in this mode. Itagaki has said he designed this mode so that his wife can beat Ninja Gaiden II.
Path of the Warrior– This is the difficulty for people who've beaten Ninja Gaiden. It’s been designed so that it remains enjoyable while still maintaining an appropriate level of challenge to keep things interesting, but if you are a Ninja Gaiden veteran don't be surprised if it still seems pretty easy. Itagaki claims he can beat this mode while drunk.
Path of the Mentor– This is where things start to get difficult. The goal with this mode is to challenge even experienced Ninja Gaiden players without discouraging them. Itagaki says he needs to be sober and really focused in order to get through this mode.
Path of the Master Ninja– Beating the game on this difficulty will be a badge of honor. It's the hardest difficulty in an already significantly difficult game.
This time around Team Ninja has decided to do away with the palate-swaps and create eight distinct (and useful) melee weapons.
Dragon Sword - It’s still Ryu’s balanced, go-to weapon, but give the other stuff a try.
Vigoorian Flail - These nunchuks of death are the only other returning melee weapon from the original Ninja Gaiden on Xbox.
Lunar Staff - Added in the DLC expansion, and later included in Ninja Gaiden Black, this staff can now be upgraded to with spiked balls on chains at either end.
Dragon’s Claw and Tiger’s Fang - These dual swords were the best part about Sigma.
Kusari-gama - A chain with a small scythe on one end and a spiked weight on the other. It has incredible range.
Falcon’s Talon - These bad boys turn Ninja Gaiden II into the Wolverine game Marvel doesn't have the balls to make.
Eclipse Scythe - It’s a huge scythe with immense power. You are the angel of death.
The biggest change to the projectile weapons is that they can now be charged to perform Ultimate Techniques, just like the melee weapons.
Shuriken - These cross-shaped throwing stars are weak, but they are useful for maintaining combos.
Incendiary Shuriken - This shuriken sticks to an enemy and detonates after a short time.
Windmill Shuriken - It’s a large, bladed boomerang. The weapon of choice for feral Australian children.
Fiend’s Bane Bow - This powerful compound bow can be fired on the run or stop and aim it using an over-the-shoulder camera.
Gatling Spear Gun - A significant departure from the original’s spear gun, this weapon fires a constant barrage of explosive darts after it takes its sweet time revving up.
Ninpo is ninja magic. And it is awesome.
- Art of the Inferno - You can now aim this giant fireball from an over the shoulder camera perspective. This ninpo is useful for doing a massive amount of damage to a single enemy.
- Art of the Wind Blades - This causes an explosion of “wind blades” to radiate from your character in all directions. This ninpo is very good for crowd control.
- Art of the Piercing Void - This creates a micro black hole that will crush everything that touches it.
- Art of the Flame Phoenix - A purely defensive ninpo, Art of the Flame Phoenix calls up a phoenix that will take a hit for you. The amount of phoenixes is increased with each level.
Scoring & Multipliers
- Combos - 100 points per hit
- 1 Essence Ultimate Technique - 2000 points
- 2 Essence Ultimate Technique - 5000 points
- Obliteration Technique - 3000 points
- Killing Spree - 3000 points
- Instant Kill (enemy killed using 1 combo) - 3000 points
- Enemies Killed - 1000 points each
- Boss Kill Obliteration Technique - 200,000 points
It is also rumored that picking up Crystal Skulls adds a multiplier to the points given for enemy kills.
Survival Mode Scoring
Certain missions in the mission pack are survival missions, where infinite waves of enemies are thrown at you. Scoring for survival missions is as follows:
- 500k - Acolyte Symbol
- 1 million - Bronze
- 1.5 million - Silver
- 2 million - Gold
- Normal kill / ninpo kill - Normal essence drop
- Melee UT lv1 kill - 3x essence
- Projectile UT lv1 kill - 3x essence
- Obliteration Technique kill - 3x essence
- Projectile UT lv2 kill - 7x essence
- Melee UT lv2 kill - 7x essence
Ninja Gaiden II's first download content was three costume packs. The packs each came with five outfits and were called Demon, Shadow Walker, and BioMetal. Each pack cost 200 Microsoft Points or $2.50. The next download content made available was mission mode. However, the mission mode was released with a game corrupting bug. When the first achievement in the mission mode was gained, the game would become corrupted and unplayable. The content was pulled but the update that pulled the mission mode also had a bug. The update caused the game to freeze during cutscenes. The mode was re-released onto Xbox Live 3 days later without the bug.
The Mission Mode includes numerous Missions of two flavors; First their is the karma attack in which the players must complete a certain challenge with the best score possible with a set number of foes that must be dispatched. After the attack challenge is complete the players can replay them at a higher difficulty for a higher score. The second kind are survival challenges, in these the players is given one of the melee weapons and infinite waves of enemies are thrown at them, getting progressively harder as the challenge continues.
As of September as the bugs related to the Mission Mode and the patch have been addressed and the game is once again fully working .
Xbox 360 Game Installation
Ninja Gaiden II requires 6.8GB of space to install on an Xbox 360 HDD.