ninjagaidendragonswordAnyone who has read my articles on Contra 4 and the Mega Man ZX games knows how much I loathe it when DS game developers use stylus/touch screen controls for the sake of using them. However, I have equal praise for those who can make stylus functionality work well. After all, it is the main selling point of the DS, and if a developer can implement in a way which enhances gameplay, then more power to them. Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword is one of those games which utilizes a stylus-driven control scheme in a way that’s intuitive and innovative. Not only that, it makes this DS entry in the series every bit as engaging as its console counterparts.

The game takes place 6 months after the original Ninja Gaiden and sometime before the second. The Hayabusa village is slowly rebuilding after the Dragon Blade incident, when Ryu’s apprentice, Momji has been kidnapped by the black spider clan. Therefore, Ryu must set out to save her. You’ll battle enemies throughout several familiar locations, and you’ll use a variety of different skills and abilities, but the real story is the unique gameplay. You hold the DS like a book. To move Ryu, you tap the stylus anywhere on the screen, and to jump, you slide it upward. To attack an enemy, slash at them, and to throw a projectile at them, tap them. Other attacks and skills make use of easy-to-remember stylus motions. To use ninpo magic, just tap the symbol and fill in the outline. There is also a high score list you can upload your stats to. Ninja Gaiden contains excellent polygonal visuals which do a good job of pushing the DS to its limits. The trademark Ninja Gaiden challenge is here to, where the game’s difficulty only makes you wanna try harder to push forward.

Ninja Gaiden DS is an excellent addition to any DS owner’s library. It provides a unique experience unlike anything else seen on the handheld, and it does an excellent job of bridging Ninja Gaiden 1 and 2.