Saturday, June 27, 2009

The PK 27 -- Game No. 8

This is the second ninja-related game to appear on the illustrious PK 27, and I make no apologies for this developing fetish of mine. To be candid, the concept of ninja has become iconic over the past thirty years, however bastardized that image may be. Regardless of medium, ninja (ninjas?) have bombarded our senses, and I dare say that most everyone under the age of forty has encountered them in some shape or form.

(If I'm mistaken, so be it, but if you're reading this post, and you've never heard of, let alone seen, a ninja of some kind, I'll proceed to kick myself in the nuts.)

Short story made shorter, the PK 27 is about video games, and Ninja Gaiden II - The Dark Sword of Chaos is but one example amidst a plethora of titles associated with the aforementioned shadow assassins, but what a gem it is. On the surface, NGII is standard fare: side-scrolling action game for the N.E.S. (and god knows, there was an endless supply of those), hack-slash-run-jump game mechanics, life meter suspiciously similar to that of the Castlevania series, a variety of secondary weapons that required ammunition of sorts (in Castlevania, it was hearts, while in NGII, it was chi or some shit like that), repetitive yet endearing tunes, etc.

Yeah, yeah, the list goes on and on, but borrowing from other games was -and still is- a staple of the industry, and thus it's unfair to fault Tecmo all that much; I mean, the game centered around a ninja! Ryu Hayubusa, super ninja, to be precise. He could climb walls, toss 'ninja stars'* like Sparkles throws temper tantrums, create shadows of himself to provide additional support, and swing a mean sword. And swing he would, again and again and again and again, because the enemies would constantly reappear, much to the player's agitation. He'd also die countless times, but that's okay, as the game was so addictive that you didn't care.**

NGII also had a storyline involving demons, secret service agents, and some lady named Irene, but whatever; the cinematic sequences looked great at the time, and they kept you playing. To be honest, I don't remember the finer details of the plot, except that the primary villain of the game, Ashtar, was the epitome of over-the-top-bad-guy awesome, and that I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. I have yet to achieve such a lofty goal (a work in progress, mind you, given that as of today, I am not quite a grown-up) but there's something to be said about a boy devoted to his dreams, right?


* My brother had one of those, and as a kid, I would practice tossing it at empty boxes of Life cereal. Bet you ten bucks Mikey didn't like it.

** Unless you loathe video games, in which case, you probably dislike alcohol, sex, Cheetos, convenience store sandwiches, cigarettes, and gingivitis as well, so don't let the (bathroom) door hit you on the way out, Pat Boone.

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