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Ninjas

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E3: Takamuru's Ninja Castle may contain ninjas


Jun 07
// Fraser Brown
In this video from E3 2012, Jonathan Holmes shows off his ninja star-throwing skills in "Takamuru's Ninja Castle," one of the Nintendo Land minigames being used to showcase the Wii U. It looks pretty responsive, and quite a bit of fun. As Holmes said, it's got that Nintendo whimsy. Take a look at the video to see how he fares against these adorable assassins.

E3: Hands-on with Nintendo Land: Takamuru's Ninja Castle

Jun 07 // Chad Concelmo
Takamuru's Ninja Castle uses the WIi U GamePad in arguably the most creative way. By holding the GamePad to the side, players slide their fingers forward on the touch screen to shoot throwing stars on the T.V. screen. It is a smooth, intuitive, very effective mechanic and works perfectly! If you barely move your finger forward, the throwing star will just fall to the ground. You really need to slide your finger as fast as possible, as speed totally matters. In this minigame, the player is tasked with battling off an army of ninjas through different levels. Each ninja has different specialties, with some just jumping around, others throwing stars back at you, and some super-powered ones attacking with bombs and giant swords. Every time you hit a ninja, the multiplier starts. By not missing, you can rack up your score to be ranked on the in-game leaderboard. Get hit by too many projectiles, though, and it is game over. This was easily the most basic of all the minigames in Nintendo Land, but it was still really fun. Aiming and throwing the ninja stars was completely easy and felt really solid. Of all the Wii U games I played, this is the one that "casual" gamers are going to get the most excited about. Similar to the excitement of playing the Wii for the first time, there is something to interacting on the screen and actually "throwing" things from the GamePad to the T.V. screen. It is a clever gimmick and fun to do over and over again as the ninjas start to fill the screen. Of all the Nintendo Land games, this one may end up being the most repetitive, but with a little more variety in the levels, Takamuru's Ninja Castle could turn out to be an addictive little distraction. At the very least, I know my mom is going to love it.
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This is the third in a series to preview all of the games within Nintendo Land for the Wii U. You can check out The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest here and Luigi's Ghost Mansion right here! Ninjas star in some of my favorite g...

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Marvelous truly knows how to market Senran Kagura Burst


Apr 25
// Tony Ponce
Last week, Marvelous revealed Senran Kagura Burst, the sequel the hit 3DS brawler starring school-aged masturbation fodder. And what goes better with horny adolescent fap material if not a box of tissues? On April 28 and 29, ...
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Holy motorboating, Batman! Senran Kagura to get a sequel


Apr 18
// Tony Ponce
Ninja schoolgirl brawler Senran Kagura sold, like, super well in Japan, so while us Westerners wait ever so patiently for a localization announcement, Marvelous is wasting no time pumping out a sequel. Appropriately titled Se...

PAX: Mark of the Ninja is a REAL ninja game

Apr 08 // Tony Ponce
The world of Mark of the Ninja is cast almost entirely in shadow -- the darkness is your friend. Head-on confrontations are the last thing you should ever attempt, because exposure to light weakens your abilities. You have to run across rooftops and crawl through vents, destroying light sources if you feel that they'll give your location away. The game presents all these functions that fans of other stealth games like Tenchu, Thief, or Metal Gear Solid would be intimately familiar with. When an enemy notices you, an alert noise will sound, then you must stay hidden until the timer runs down and the guards resume their normal duties. There are also various objects like vases and closets for you to hide behind or to stuff a corpse into to avoid detection. When you toss your kunai at a gong, a metal grill, a light fixture, etc., it will trigger a sound that is represented visually by an expanding white circle. Any enemy within the sound's radius will be distracted, allowing you to sneak past. Conversely, sprinting and other actions can draw attention towards you. You must be aggressive yet discreet at all times. Though direct combat is not ideal, you possess a limited set of attacks. Preferably, you'll want to sneak up behind an enemy for a swift kill. A button and a direction arrow will appear above enemies' head, and if you fail to execute the combo correctly, their deaths will be noisy and possibly alert nearby foes. On the other hand, sometimes you'll want to make a little noise. If you can kill an enemy in the presence of another enemy via something like an environmental kill, the second guy will freak out and start shooting wildly. You can then use his confusion to your advantage. Mark of the Ninja values players' individual styles and won't demand them to play in a manner they are unaccustomed too. In other words, no Deus Ex: Human Revolution boss fights here. The "boss fights" are the higher profile targets that are protected by numerous guards or concealed deep within a building. The challenge comes in discovering the appropriate means in which to take the target out, not in whittling down a health bar or engaging in a flow-breaking brawl. Klei is intelligently adding all these contextual clues and references to other stealth games to welcome genre fans and newcomers alike, all without making the controls excessively convoluted. You feel like a true ninja, wall-kicking up air vents and grappling across branches with a simple click of the shoulder trigger. A checkpoint is always close by, and the penalty for failure is never so great that you'll feel like you aren't making progress. Mark of the Ninja comes out this summer for XBLA. It's got real ninjas. Ryu Hayabusa can suck it.
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Ninjas may be one of the most popular character tropes in videogames after zombies and robots, but in all honesty, most of them suck at the one thing they are supposed to be good at. Ryu Hayabusa may strut around like a big o...

Preview: Ninja Gaiden 3 is bloody fun

Jan 24 // Dale North
Ninja Gaiden 3 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: Team NinjaPublisher: Tecmo KoeiRelease: March 2012  Series fans will be surprised at how talky Ryu and friends are. It's not to the point where I think he'd ninja off to the mall foodcourt to gossip with his girlfriends, but the chatter ever-present, and markedly different than what fans are used to. In his journey in this early code through London and later Dubai, he flaps his yap in cutscenes, in between battles, and even as he moves through these locales. Sometimes he's talking to himself, others he's chatting with a remote agent via headset, and in one scene he blows off his blue-haired student, Ayane. But, for as talky as he is, know that Ryu hasn't lost that dark killer vibe.  Call me! Some of the talk is directive, helping Ryu set a path through these levels, but most of it is story development, as Team Ninja is focused on telling you a real story this time around. It's a bit too early to know where the story is going, but take comfort in knowing that scenario writer Masato Kato has been brought on board to help with that. You've seen Kato's work in the original Ninja Gaiden, as well as in Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VII. I don't mind that Ryu thinks about his killing a bit more now, and that there's a deeper narrative this time around, but I hope they don't make him soft. We love Ninja Gaiden because Ryu is a badass killer. I hope he stays that way. When Ryu isn't running his mouth, he's cutting bitches, and it's...it's glorious! Coming off working on reviews of multiple Japanese role-playing games, playing Ninja Gaiden 3 is like a well-deserved, bloody vacation. Thrashing buttons to jam swords into flesh has never felt so good, and it also looks pretty fantastic with the dark red sprays of blood fountaining up from piles of still-standing victims that should have been dead a long time ago. It only took about three minutes of play for me to find myself laughing maniacally at my ridiculously long-lasting chains of kills. The game's new cinematic kills only served to increase the volume of my laughing as they zoom in on the action and prompt you with what button you should be mashing to make your kills even more gory. The control feels tight and fast, and it seems like Team Ninja has worked hard keep you focused on the action, and not stuck trying to find your bearings. I'm pleased to say that the game's camera gave me very little issue, with only minor hang-ups in really tight quarters like stairwells. The majority of the time I found that the camera was smartly focused on the action, and I never found myself waiting for it, or trying to correct it. Combine this with the game's ability to smoothly transition attacks from one body to the next and you have seamless, satisfying cutting action.  NG3 is more varied and cinematic than other series games. The chains of bloody carnage were broken up with sequences that had me climbing walls with throwing knifes, sliding under speeding trucks, or gliding from rooftops to the ground, dodging missiles on the way down. I loved cutting the legs off a massive robot spider tank to make it explode in the background in that very Japanese way. It's all one ninja against the world, with attacks and fire coming from everywhere, sometimes so much so that Ryu has to duck into an alley to catch a breather. One memorable section had me creeping through endless heavy fog, stepping around laser sights to avoid detection. When found by a stray sight, a heavy percussion-only song kicked up while I dodged incoming missiles and invisible attacks from all directions. Mind you that none of these bits were cutscenes -- all gameplay! The game eased me into the killing with fewer enemies that were just asking to be cut up and juggled, but quickly moved me into situations where I was surrounded on all sides by soldiers, gunmen, guys with swords, other ninja, and even assholes with rocket launchers. In those times I couldn't cut fast enough, which let me know that the developers have not forgot their roots. As always, combat centers being able to quickly attack and watch your back to evade or block at the same time, mixing up the two to make it through bouts of relentless attacks. Feels good, man. Of course, it's not all cutting. Later in the game, escalating the challenge, Ryu gets a crossbow that has the player trying to pick off distant attackers while watching his back. Another new weapon, Ryu's cursed arm, builds up attack power from consecutive kills. When it glows red it can be charged up for an ultimate attack that kills all surrounding enemies in one hit. Finally, ninja magic is a bit different this time around. In the only example the demo provided, kills fill up a Ninpo meter that will let you unleash a flaming dragon into the sky to burn all enemies and fill your lifebar back up at the same time.  For the first time, Team Ninja is thinking about accessibility. Series games have always been difficult, and I'm sure Tecmo Koei realizes that this limited accessibility, so that's probably why they added a new Hero mode to the mix. "Normal" is right in line with what series fans would expect, meaning that it's still pretty difficult -- classic Ninja Gaiden. "Hard" is hilariously difficult, and will likely be a treat for Ninja Gaiden followers. But Hero makes it so that ninjas-in-training can also enjoy the story, with what seems to be assists in blocking, and less agressive enemies. I probably enjoyed myself most on "Normal," but that's not to say that "Hero" didn't provide a strong challenge. I definitely wouldn't call Hero mode dumbed down. One bit the devs still need to work on is the enemy voice work. When you combine the lack of variety of voice bits and their high frequency, you get a funny really voice track. I couldn't stop laughing at the near endless string of exclamations on the battleground: That's the ninja! Ninja! Shit! Back me up! Shit! Shit! Shit! Gimme some backup! Shit! It's still early, but Ninja Gaiden 3 is on the right track. The game is looking great, with a liquid smooth frame rate and some slick lighting. The camera needs more polish in tight areas, but it shows promise in the open ones. It is still too early to make a call on where the story is headed, but there's hints of something interesting brewing with Ryu's cursed arm and his occasional hesitance to kill. Yes, Ryu talks more and now seems to at least give pause before killing some people, but the action fans love is still in there. 
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I was in Tokyo last year for the unveiling of Ninja Gaiden 3 to a select group of press. It certainly looked great, but some in attendance were worried about Team Ninja's changes to the tried-and-true formula. The latest in t...

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Exclusive! Single off Random's Black Materia remix album


Jan 23
// Tony Ponce
The other day, I got an email from rapper Random, asking me if I'd be interested in scoring an exclusive single from his new Final Fantasy VII album Black Materia: The Remixes. My exact response was, "Aw, hells yeah! That wo...
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Shinobido 2 trailer shows the way of the ninja


Jan 14
// Brett Zeidler
On February 22nd, the Vita is going to have a couple titles that feature a master ninja. There is, of course, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, which features the legendary Ryu Hayabusa, but there's also another ninja stealth title t...
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A LOT of ninjas are in Naruto Ultimate Storm Generations


Dec 22
// Josh Tolentino
A whopping seventy-two of them, in fact, and that's just counting the playable characters. The number swells considerably when you look at support-only characters and move-set variations on the same character (there are s...
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The VGAs are just a few hours away, and we already have our first massive announcement from the show, leaked for your viewing pleasure. According to this trailer spotted on NeoGAF, Metal Gear Solid Rising is now called Metal ...

Hands-on: Ninja Gaiden 3's single and multiplayer modes

Dec 08 // Alessandro Fillari
Ninja Gaiden 3 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U)Developer: Team NinjaPublisher: Tecmo KoeiRelease: March 2012 (Wii U release date TBD) The single-player demo begins with Ryu and Agent Mizuki, a new ally to the player, making their way to a ruined city in Dubai. While still fairly early in the game, much has happened to Ryu. His cursed arm had absorbed the Dragon Sword and enhanced his fighting capabilities. Without his sword, he is left to find whatever weapon he can get his hands on. Before the start of the stage, Mizuki gives him a new modified bow with lock-on capabilities. From there, the stage starts with Ryu heading into the city, armed only with a bow. Just then, Ryu is ambushed by guards wielding rocket launchers and riding on hoverbikes. The opening of the stage serves as the tutorial for using the bow. While it should be familiar to fans of the previous games, the lock-on mechanic allows Ryu to pull off trickier shots with ease. When you aim down the bow, a reticule appears on the screen and enemies slow down to a crawl for a brief period, which gives you more time to react. Not only does this give you a tactical advantage, but it also allows you to shoot down incoming rockets. After making quick work of the enemies, Ryu is greeted by Ayane, a returning character from the previous games and the Dead or Alive series. During this cutscene, Ayane gives the player a new katana to wield. Now armed, Ryu heads deeper into the ruins. At this point, it becomes clear the shift in the overall tone of the game. With regards to reestablishing the series, the developers want the narrative to be a strong focus. When you enter the city, the game uses cinematic angles to establish the setting, the barren and weathered appearance of the ruins. During these moments of exposition, Ryu's movements slowdown in order to let you survey the environment and for the story to be told. Many of these moments felt like call backs to the Uncharted series, or other like minded narrative focused action-adventure games. Ryu himself has also become more talkative, and not nearly as brooding as he was in the previous games. While this may urk some long time fans, it does give him much more character and a much larger presence in the story. Plus, he's still just as badass as ever. After venturing further into the stage you come across another ambush with more soldiers, which jumps into the first fight with the new sword. Combat is just as fast and fierce as it was in the past. Agility, defense, and decisiveness are still very much the corner stones of the combat, but those aspects of battle are only matched by the sheer cunning of your enemies. The opponents you face still put up a good fight, but Ryu has a few new tricks of his own. Ryu's cursed arm absorbs energy through the carnage and violence of battle, which will build power toward his ultimate attack. Once his arm is glowing red, Ryu will launch into a powerful attack that will send him teleporting around the field and dispatching enemies in a single strike. This move is an evolution of the ultimate technique from the previous games, which required power orbs from fallen enemies for use. The orb mechanic has actually been removed altogether in favor of building up energy to keep players in the moment of battle. The presentation in how Ryu cuts down his enemies is now a larger focus in terms of both narrative and in the feedback of combat. Team Ninja calls this new aspect of the combat "steel on bone". While it gives off the idea that you enter a QTE sequence (which many thought at the TGS demonstration), it's much more of a visual impression. They opted to enhance this visual and cathartic moment in the deaths of the enemies to give players the feeling of cutting into a person, which explains the removal of the decapitation/dismemberment system from the previous games. This small moment in combat felt very satisfying, especially when up against a tough enemy. The Ninpo (ninja magic) has also seen some changes. Instead of having to use items to recharge your Ninpo, Team Ninja has opted to just focus on your performance during fights to recharge your usage. Ninpo magic does much more than dealing damage to enemies as it can heal your wounds as well. This not only gives it a much more strategic use, but it also creates a risk-reward system for it. Should you use it to summon a giant flame dragon to take out a group of enemies, heal your wounds, and finish off the rest on your own? Or should you save it, and let your full Ninpo gauge heal you after battle. It definitely puts an interesting spin on the use of Ninpo, and it made me think more on what I exactly I should be using it for. Throughout the stage, Ryu has to take advantage of his ninja training to traverse the ruined city. Wall running/jumping both make a welcome return, but a new feature shown in the previous demo back at TGS was the Kunai Climb. Using his kunai (ninja daggers), Ryu will be able to climb vertical surfaces to get to his destination. To be honest, I found this feature to be a bit jarring, in couple different ways. While there were on screen indicators to tell you which buttons to press, it was difficult to tell that you have to actively alternate between the trigger/button prompts on screen. Plus, it just feels a bit slow. I mean this is a ninja who can run up walls and possesses enhanced agility that no normal man has. I feel like there could've been a better way to show off vertical traversal, instead of something that just slows the overall pace to a crawl. Scattered throughout the stage is the presence of Ryu's falcon. The falcon serves as the save point for Ninja Gaiden 3, but also serves a narrative focus for the character. Like I mentioned earlier, the narrative is a strong focus, and much of the game has been streamlined in order to tell a tighter, more grounded story. Moreover, checkpoints have been added to keep players having to repeat chunks of story should they fall in battle without saving earlier. Towards the end of the demo, Ryu comes across a new enemy type that focuses on magic and grappling attacks. These guys were easily the toughest enemies that the demo had to offer, and they made a point of showing the player that similar tactics used on enemies from earlier weren't going to cut it this time. The enemies were immune resistant to weak attacks and projectiles, leaving the player to use the strong, heavy attacks to open up their defenses. After finishing the demo, staff members from Team Ninja recommended everyone on hand to try the Hard Mode, which was unveiled for the first time. After giving it a shot, I can honestly say that Team Ninja hasn't skipped out on offering a challenging game. Even on the Normal setting, the difficulty was still pretty fair and offered much resistance. However, the hard mode felt almost entirely different. Not only did they double the enemies thrown at you, but the AI went from manageable to just down right vicious. Moreover, the difficulty of this mode made the much touted presentation of the enemy death sequences fell all the more satisfying. It was quite a surprise to see how certain areas I cleared with ease in the previous setting turned into death traps on hard mode. Fans of the sheer challenge of the previous titles will not be disappointed. Team Ninja also unveiled their brand new multiplayer mode. Their goal was to bring the fast paced action oriented gameplay into the competitive online arena. Described as a "world of ninjas," players will be able to create and customize their own ninja characters, and meet other players to compete in four-versus-four team battles or eight-player free-for-all matches. The concept of the new mode is quite novel indeed. You create your own ninja, level up, and acquire new gear and weapons for him to use. The modes demonstrated were classic multiplayer staples such as team deathmatch and free-for-all mode. Obviously, players will either be placed on teams to compete for kills or go out on their own to end on top. Control wise, your ninja is essentially a weaker version of Ryu Hayabusa, and only possess a limited number of shurikens and arrows. However, they still have access to the same moves, techniques, and Ninpo that Ryu has keeping every player on a level playing field. Unfortunately, the multiplayer mode wasn't without issues. In terms of sheer design, the fast paced nature of the combat did not take into account the structure and pace of multiplayer matches. The one-on-one DNA of the combat didn't seem to jive too well with the mass nature of multiplayer. Not to mention, most matches consisted of players converging to the center of the map and creating this one giant crowded brawl. And no, it didn't look particularly cool at all. It was neat at first, I actually got caught up into a chase with another player on the rooftops that led to me finishing him off with an Izuna Drop on the ground below, but then the tedium and sloppiness sets in after those brief moments of brilliance are gone. What's worse, there were severe technical issues hampering the matches. Not only in terms of lag with connection and frame-rate, but also with lag of the button inputs. There were points where you have to mash buttons to escape from enemy killing blows, but because of the lag it made it almost impossible to escape from. Plus, the "bone on steel" aspect of combat looks very awkward during matches. It looks awesome when you're doing it to an opponent, but when you're watching it happen with different players right it front of you, it looks a bit bizarre seeing two ninjas moving in slow motion during the death animation. Especially when teammates awkwardly try to break it up, which they're not able to do by the way. Perhaps things will turn out better for the multiplayer once the technical and balancing issues will be ironed out, and also when the specifics of the unlocks and depth of customization will become more clear. It's a welcome feature to have with the game, and there's a ton of potential there for growth within the community, but from my experiences with the new gameplay mode, it just felt a bit uninspired. Here's hoping they can get it to work out by the time of release. Overall, I was quite impressed with how the single-player turned. The focus on having a stronger narrative got me a little worried, but I really enjoyed what I got in my hands. I feel that the more grounded I feel that the the removal of the upgrade system, orbs, and static save points will still leave fans a bit worried all the way till release. But as a fan of the series, I can say that the single-player for Ninja Gaiden 3 definitely holds it's own. Team Ninja has set out exactly what they wanted to do in trying to reestablish the series and bring it into a new light. At the same time, they've done much to preserve what many value in the series. Hopefully, they can get certain aspects of multiplayer ironed out before release.
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As a long time fan of the Ninja Gaiden series, I was a bit skeptical when I learned Team Ninja was looking to reestablish the series. After it's last showing at TGS left many confused and a bit worried, me included, the devel...

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Ezio gets all stop-motiony in this fan animation


Nov 20
// Tony Ponce
Stop-motion animation will never die, and the world is a better place because of that! In this wonderfully choreographed video, Ezio from Assassin's Creed goes toe-to-toe with... ummm... uhhhh... the guy from Tenchu? I dunno... maybe? Whatevs, some ninja dude who gets his sh*t ruined. It's all good fun, so no biggie. Assassin's Creed Revelations Fan Tribute: Assassin VS Ninja! [YouTube]
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For real, here's eight minutes of Senran Kagura gameplay


Sep 24
// Tony Ponce
BWA HA HA HA HA HA! Okay, we all had some laughs. Time to get serious. Yes, there is actual gameplay footage of Senran Kagura, only it's all hiding. Like all things on the Internet, secrets aren't kept secret for long. Above...
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Senran Kagura video gets jiggly with it


Sep 24
// Tony Ponce
I'm sure there is a case to be made about upcoming booby ninja high school 3DS game Senran Kagura's being a legitimately solid title with plenty of action to satisfy the needs of the brawler crowd. This video, though? Doesn't make that case. 3DS Senran Kagura Changing Room [YouTube]

TGS: Shinobido 2 gives ninjas a home on the PS Vita

Sep 17 // Allistair Pinsof
Although the series has been around for over five years, Shinobido 2 marks the first time for the series to reach North America. The game is best described as Tenchu stealth mixed with the multiple path decisions and storytelling of Way of the Samurai. Unlike the latter, you will not be exploring city hubs and talking to citizens. The game is solely mission-based, with the focus on sneaking into strongholds and assassinating your target. A developer on the team said that Shinobido 2 is a deliberately more realistic take on stealth ninja action. Instead of playing as a super ninja, you are limited in your health and must rely on killing your enemies before they see you. In order to do this, you must sneak across roof tops, hug walls and distract enemies. Although the game has a historical setting and serious narrative, it also has some lighthearted touches you expect from a Japanese developed game. For instance, you can use the back panel of the PS Vita to go into first person mode and throw sushi. The guards will spot it and marvel at its presence, giving you an opportunity to stab them through the heart (ninja-style). The game isn’t the best looking on the system (it looks more PS2 than PS3), but the art direction is strong and reminiscent of early PlayStation Tenchu titles. The little touches are what really makes the presentation great, however. The game is filled with situational death animations. For instance, you will drown an enemy if you assassinate him near a stream. You can also throw an enemy off a bridge or stab an enemy through a sheet panel if you stop his shadow near the room divider. The realism seems to be limited to your health, because I find it hard to believe any ninja ever had the arsenal of weapons and equipment at Zen’s (the main character) disposal. You can shoot a grappling hook to get leap onto rooftops, glide around like a flying squirrel, charge quickly through mid-air, and take down guards with a Splinter Cell: Conviction-esque special ability. This Zanboku special attack comes in handy during hairy situations, but must be conserved since it takes a while to recharge. It takes even longer on harder difficulties. Another new feature to the series are the enemy presence icons located on the right-hand side of the screen. These grey oval icons represents an enemy within the area. It turns red when you are spotted, but you can also touch the icon for more information on an enemy. The game is mission-based, with each one rewarding you fame within one of the game’s three factions. The stages themselves are reused with varying goals, so you can play the game in an effort to rebalance your standing. The game also has multiplayer but no details have been announced yet. Shinobido 2 isn’t the type of game you buy a PS Vita for -- it’s more like the game you buy alongside the “system seller” (still not sure that the Vita has one of those). It’s a neat game that makes good use of the hardware, even if the graphics aren’t cutting edge. As a fan of the Tenchu series, I’m going to be keeping an eye out for this one.
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You can be forgiven for glancing at Shinobido and presuming it to be a Tenchu knock-off. After you stop raging and consider it looks kind of neat, you may do a quick Google search and discover it's made by the same developer...

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Jonathan Holmes and myself are fascinated by Senran Kagura, the boobie ninja schoolgirl action title for the 3DS. Despite producer Kenichiro Takaki's claims that the game's content has worldwide appeal, its intentionally high...

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Play / ESCAPE \ and watch your weekend disappear


Sep 03
// Tony Ponce
It's Saturday, the start of Labor Day Weekend, and you don't have any plans. Rather than cry into a pint of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food, why don't you give this little Flash game a go? The hours will melt away. / ESCAPE \ is...
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Senran Kagura: Schoolgirls and boobs unite the world


Aug 08
// Jim Sterling
At first glance, Senran Kagura may look like yet another borderline-pedophile fantasy from the depths of a Japanese subculture's disturbing preoccupation with "youth", but according to producer Kenichiro Takaki, it's not...
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Ninja Baseball Bat Man is a... about... wait... WHAT!?!?


Jul 31
// Tony Ponce
Guys. Guys. Hey guys. There is a 1993 arcade game from Irem called Ninja Baseball Bat Man. There is a game called Ninja Baseball Bat Man. A game called Ninja Baseball Bat Man. Ninja Baseball Bat... Why are we only learning a...
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BOOBIES IN YOUR FACE! A Senran Kagura trailer


Jun 14
// Tony Ponce
Holmes and I have had our peepers locked onto this Japanese 3DS game for a while, sucking up any and all info lactated from the teat of games JOURNALISM. In all honesty, I don't know why Holmes is so interested. He doesn't e...
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My first mistake with Spike's Shinobido 2 demo for PlayStation Vita is that went head-on toward the first enemy I saw. He killed me. I was told by a Spike representative that I was overlooking the stealth aspect of the game. ...

Preview: Shinobi 3DS

May 26 // Nick Chester
Shinobi 3DS (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: Griptonite GamesPublisher: SegaRelease date: Fall 2011 It's been awhile since we've seen a Shinobi game, and rather than try to reinvent the classic, Sega's aiming more at a modernization of some core concepts. The idea is to keep the classic Shinobi feel and gameplay -- the side-scrolling action combat and platforming -- with a host of gameplay twists and features for a new generation. What this means is that it plays as you'd expect, with a heavy emphasis on the use of throwing knives (which seem to be in unlimited supply) and close-combat with a katana. The action is swift, with repeated presses of the A button resulting in a combination of slashing strikes. The brisk, nimble ninja can also slide, coming up and out of the maneuver with an upward slice of his blade to eviscerate enemies. A full range of ninja magic will be making its return, as well. Using it is as simple as tapping the L button, unlike some other handheld ninja titles that had you tracing Kanji characters on the touch screen. (I'm looking at you Ninja Gaiden:Dragon Sword; I want to burn up some baddies with ninja fire, not write a letter.) The touch screen did come into play for switching between the magics, which in this early demo consisted of the basic fire, lightning, and wind. While quick to go on the offensive, ninjas do just as well playing it safe on defense. Unfortunately, our shinobi can't directly block attacks, but has been given a parry which I found to be largely useful in most situations. By tapping the R button at the correct time, I was able to effortlessly deflect incoming strikes, leaving enemies open for brutalizing with my ninja steel. Platforming will also play a pretty big role in Shinobi 3DS, if my short demo is any indication. I ran into a number of tricky spots that required well-timed wall jumps to evade spikes traps, and moved from ground to rooftops with a grappling hook. I was only able to see part of the game's first level, which was a village being engulfed in flames as enemy ninja and samurai attacked. Visually, Shinobi 3DS is shaping up pretty well, with a decent range of color and visual effects that bring the 2.5D action to life. 3D effects on or off, it didn't make all that much of a different for these side-scrolling bits. Sega did reveal that over-the-should third-person action sections where you're "moving into the screen" would make it into the mix, which should lend itself well to the 3D effect. From the sound of things, Griptonite is hoping to pack Shinobi 3DS with a ton of content. It's promising over 60 in-game achievements, each of which will unlock something that players can use, view or wear. The classic ninja star throwing mini-game will also be making a return… in mind-blowing 3D! I was also promised an After Burner-inspired jet ride, and at least one massive, wet-dream-inspiring battle against a cyborg shark. At this early stage, Shinobi 3DS seems like a fair mixture of old-school with enough fresh ideas to keep things compelling. I did find the controls to feel a bit on the lose side, at least compared to the tight action of the sprite-based Shinobi games of old. A lot of that may have to do with the fact that we were only able to use the circle pad to control the ninja (which, by the way, Sega did confirm is the father of Joe Musashi form the original Shinobi titles). This will change, with the option to also use the d-pad making the final cut, something I suspect will change how I feel about the game's controls. Shinobi 3DS is out this fall, and I'm hoping Sega brings that cyborg shark to E3. 
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The rumors are true! Sega's Shinobi franchise is making its return this fall with the cleverly titled Shinobi 3DS. Not a port or a remake, the title is being built from the ground up for the Nintendo 3DS with developer Gripto...

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Motorboat these Kagura screens


Apr 14
// Tony Ponce
Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. This is the third Kagura post in under 24 hours. I don't care. I'm gonna milk this for all it's worth. Famitsu has just shared an ample supply of screens from the upcoming sexy ninja time game. The...
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Kagura on 3DS: Breast game or breastest game?


Apr 14
// Tony Ponce
Good morning, fellow Dtoiders! Who wants boobies for breakfast!? More info has turned up regarding the new ninja-stripping side-scroller for the 3DS, Kagura. First, an official website has been launched, and it greets you wit...
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Kagura: Portrait of Girls brings stripping ninjas to 3DS


Apr 13
// Tony Ponce
Marvelous Entertainment has revealed its newest 3DS game in the pages of Famitsu magazine. It's called Kagura: Portrait of Girls, a side-scrolling action game starring five kunoichi who lose articles of clothing upon incurrin...

Preview: Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive for PSP

Feb 04 // Max Scoville
Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive (PSP)Developer: Premium Agency Inc Publisher: Namco BandaiTo be released: February 22 I’ll be honest. I never got into Naruto, so I’m a bit out of touch. I stopped watching Toonami after the Buu Saga ended, so bear with me. From what I’ve gathered, Naruto is about ninja school, and learning to be a better ninja, and fighting ninjas, and so forth. I’m totally cool with this concept, but I probably couldn’t pick any of the characters out of a lineup.The story of Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive -- or NS: KD from now on, because typing that out is getting old -- is all original. It’s not based on anything in the manga or anime, so there’s something new to look forward to. Another bonus is that it includes both Japanese and English voice options, which I think is fantastic. Dubbed voices are nails on a chalkboard if you’re used to the Japanese audio. As I mentioned, the gameplay is a lot of punching and kicking. Special moves and so forth, what you’d expect from an anime game about ninjas. The emphasis co-op is what makes it interesting, as you’re always fighting alongside three other ninjas. When I played with one of Namco Bandai’s PR guys, we each picked our characters, and then picked the computer’s characters. Ideally, you’d play this game co-op with three friends over local Wi-Fi, but if not, the AI’s got your back. In the mission we played, there were giant wild dogs terrorizing a village, and being respectable ninjas, we took it upon ourselves to beat the crap out of those dogs. There are six grades of difficulty: C, B, A, S, S+, and S++. In spite of the fact that we were playing a B-grade mission, one of the easier grades, I still died twice, and my teammates had to resurrect me. The whole teamwork dynamic pays off when players go into Kizuna Drive. This is when everyone combines their attacks on a common enemy to do increased damage. In the game, this requires stunning an enemy, then hitting triangle and circle at the same time. Your teammates will gather around, the enemy is airborne, and it’s all a matter of timing your attacks for when the he is passed to you. It’s like volleyball, except with ninjas. If the enemy is flying towards you, and you time your attack wrong, you’ll get hurt. Just like in regular volleyball.I think Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive shows a lot of promise, and I wish I’d had more time to play with it. It’s obvious the missions are short enough to keep the gameplay fun-sized, which is how handheld games should be, but it looks like some real work went towards making it an overall immersive experience.
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Naruto fans rejoice, because Namco Bandai has another game headed your way. Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive is a PSP exclusive that’s coming out February 22. I got a chance to play it on Wednesday, and I thought I&rsq...

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Budget ninja-themed DSiWare game gets a sequel


Sep 06
// Tony Ponce
Less than two weeks ago, I reviewed G.G Series Ninja Karakuri Den, a two-dollar microgame that is part of a Japanese series of budget downloadables. It was a decent game that could have used a little more zest, which is why ...

Review: G.G Series Ninja Karakuri Den

Aug 26 // Tony Ponce
G.G Series Ninja Karakuri Den (DSiWare)Developer: SuzakPublisher: GenterpriseReleased: August 23, 2010 MSRP: 200 Nintendo DSi Points Okay, so it's not terrible. Ninja Karakuri Den is an arcade-style platformer with a visual aesthetic akin to Ninja JaJaMaru-kun on the Famicom or Haggleman from the recent Retro Game Challenge. Each level is a single-screen "room" that must be cleared of all gears in order to reveal an exit door. The nameless hero ninja must constantly jump off of tiles that then fall away, making levels more perilous with each passing second. Also populating levels are enemy samurai that come in three flavors -- short-range katana wielders, medium-range spear thrusters, and long-range gunners. Your ninja is invincible save for falling into pits, so enemy attacks merely halt your momentum or send you reeling backwards. While this is a minor annoyance in the early levels, it becomes an issue further in as fewer tiles populate the room. New tiles materialize in random spots at regular intervals as long as there's time left on the timer. Sometimes, a missed jump or enemy collision can be rectified by a lucky appearance of a tile beneath you. However, once time expires, tiles stop forming and the background turns pitch black, an indication that you should hurry up and find the goal. Jumping is performed automatically, but jump height can be controlled by pressing up or down on the D-pad. You can attack across distances using an endless supply of rather ineffective shurikens or up close with katana slashes that kill enemies in one hit. A dash technique for clearing long gaps can normally be used once per jump, and combining a dash with a slash produces a more powerful attack that can drill through a row of samurai as well as destroy gears in one slash instead of the normal two. Level progression follows a regular pattern -- three standard stages, a boss battle, then a coin-collecting bonus stage. The boss stages pit you against enemy ninjas of increasing skill who jump from wall to wall tossing shurikens at you. For the first few encounters, you'll face lowly apprentices, but later you'll challenge adepts who drop bombs in their path and masters who can create shadow clones. There are 60 levels in total, each level lasting 30 seconds at most. If you lose a life, you'll restart the current stage minus the gears you've already destroyed. If you exhaust all your lives, you'll restart the current level with all the gears back in place and a reset score counter. With little in the way of punishment for failure, you can breeze through the entire game in less than half an hour. Even considering the short playtime, the game manages to skimp on variety. You meet all the enemy types by the 11th level and encounter the same three ninja bosses four times apiece. Instead of a thrilling final battle, the game ends on an anticlimactic note with another non-threatening bonus room. This is the kind of game that could have welcomed replays with randomly generated maps, but as it stands, there's no reason to return other than to record how far you can travel without continuing. If I assume that this is one of the better G.G Series titles, my earlier suspicions that these games are better suited for a collection format are justified. Ninja Karakuri Den is too short and suffers from a dearth of content, yet it's enjoyable and cheap enough to just barely, barely, squeak by with a recommendation.
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Japan can be a real ball hog sometimes. A bazillion awesome-looking games come out each year, yet only a handful get localized. Don't even get me started on the surplus of legacy software that appears on their download servic...

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Ninjatown: Trees of Doom! gets its first update


Jun 09
// Conrad Zimmerman
Hooray for Ninjatown. I can never get enough of looking at this adorable series of games. Venan Entertainment let us know that the iPhone title Ninjatown: Trees of Doom! has just received the first update to its content...
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Ninjatown Trees of Doom bringing adorableness to iPhone


May 04
// Conrad Zimmerman
I love the art style in Ninjatown games. The way that it's unabashed about reveling in its supreme cuteness just makes me grin. This video is a trailer for the upcoming iPhone title, Ninjatown Trees of Doom, in whi...

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