Obligatory header to the review: I focus on four primary areas whenever I review a game: gameplay, story, graphics, and sound/audio/general things that go into your earholes. Gameplay and Story get a rating scale from 1 to 10, and the AV stuff gets a rating from 1 to 5. My philosophy on this is that there are some instances in which a game may not necessarily have that much in the way of gameplay (take Amnesia for example), but the story/atmosphere/whatever it may be is reason enough to pick it up. Also, take the cumulative score with a grain of salt; it's just a numerical feeling about the game as a whole. That's part of why I do these subscores. Also, keep in mind that I'm not going off of school grade based rankings. A 5/10 denotes what I feel to be an average game. Likewise, 7/10 is a game that I think is pretty cool, and something that gets a 2/10 is near-abomination level. Pinning scores to an even further obfuscated rating scale is kinda senseless, but for the sake of my backloggery, I'll repeat again that 1.0-2.7 is a one-star game, 3.0-4.7 is a two-star game, 5.0-6.7, 7.0-8.7, and 9.0-10 are three, four, and five stars, respectively.
Gameplay: I really don't get the hate surrounding this game. Yeah, sure, it's not the same quality of game as the Itagaki-produced games, but it's still a load of fun. The gameplay is best described (in my opinion) as a cross between Devil May Cry and Rise of the Triad (actually, that's fair to say in more respects than just the gameplay). Rather than going with light attack/heavy attack/grab, the game has three different types of attack: shortsword for fast face fu- I mean wrecking; fists for punching things dead hard; and flails, which are essentially the Blades of Olympus. Along with that are some special weapons that you get from executing stronger enemies. These lead into the Element system of the game, which is really vital to grasp so that you don't launch your controller, chair, monitor, PC, and desk out the window. However, even more essential is learning how to counter.
Admittedly, countering is somewhat finicky, but I found it to be a godsend against the later bosses of the game. My biggest complaints, honestly, are the finicky countering and the camera, which can be a huge pain at times. However, those didn't really ruin my day all that much. After beating the game, you unlock Ninja Gaiden Z mode, which is essentially a "Yaiba-lite" version that plays more like a beat-em-up game like Streets of Rage than an actual classic Ninja Gaiden game. This was disappointing, admittedly, but it's still a good bit of fun. Also, no, I haven't beaten it. I'm not good enough to do about an hours worth of gameplay on one continue. But hey, this review isn't about my gaming abilities; it's about the game, and this game is simply fun. While it's not as engaging as Ninja Gaiden Black, I still think this game is a load of fun and will definitely play through it again on higher difficulties in the future. 8/10.
Story: The Ninja Gaiden series has never been well known for being the most well-written, and I think it's about time that they embrace their incredibly camp nature. Spark Entertainment felt the same way, too. The writing most definitely got plenty of laughs out of the 12 year old inside me. The Engrish in the Arcade mode was pretty great, too, even if it is a bit of an easy joke. Unlike gameplay, there really isn't much here to talk about. If you've got an immature sense of humor, you'll probably enjoy the cutscenes and dialogue. Just don't go into it expecting Shakespeare. 7/10.
Graphics: Definitely the most striking aspect of this game. It's got that ultra-cel shaded style in the ilk of games like Madworld, Killer7, and No More Heroes, and it looks pretty dang good when you crank the settings to max. It ran near-perfectly on my GTX 760 at 1080p, max settings, and 60FPS, so if you've got a similar card, you should have pretty similar results. As for the actual art design of the game itself, some of the areas get a bit boring to look at again and again, but if you're spending that much time looking at the scenery, you're not playing the game right. Now, don't think I made those comparisons earlier in this section without intent. This game, much like the prior three mentioned, is pretty dang violent. Absurdly so. However, this helps feed into the campy nature of this game, so I don't mind it at all. Again, this is more proof that art style trumps ultra-high polygon counts most any day of the week. Your eyes will most definitely not get bored, presuming you're actually playing the game. 5/5.
Audio: This game has a pretty rad soundtrack, I must say. The "hard encounter" theme is a bit meh, but there is some pretty good battle music throughout this game. They're songs you probably wouldn't mind working out to, if that helps give you an idea of the kinds of songs in the game. As for the voice acting, it doesn't get in the way. Nothing really that remarkable. Sound design, once again, doesn't really get in the way or make itself known all that much. For some pretty good songs, but not too remarkable anything else, the audio portion of this game gets a 3/5.
Overall: An absolutely gaudy adventure both in style and in substance that I overall had a pretty good time with. However, I'd hold off until this game becomes about $30 or so. Any higher is a bit too much in my opinion. 8/7/5/3; 7.7/10.