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Has Ninja Gaiden II gone soft?

Ryu Hayabusa seems angry in Ninja Gaiden II. Really, really angry. Killing foes foolish enough to stand between him and the next save point just isn’t enough for the silent killer anymore. This time his bloodlust calls for more than his enemies’ lives. It needs their arms, legs and heads too.

Strong attacks now have a high chance of robbing cannon fodder of one of their precious limbs. Combo one in, and you’ll see meaty body parts go flying across the screen, painting the halls and floors with goopy trails of crimson blood. But what’s really creepy is how enemies won’t give up after suffering these painful flesh wounds.

Even with no legs left to call their own, bad guys will desperately crawl towards you in an almost futile attempt to land one final blow. But don’t disregard these slow and stumpy leftovers. If one manages to catch you off guard while you’re slashing at other more agile enemies - who still have all their arms and legs - they’ll commit suicide by stabbing you in the chest with an explosive dagger. Once said dagger explodes, so does the enemy, showering you with a spray of blood while taking your health bar down a notch.


Above: All your limbs are belong to us. Every area you clear looks like the end of the fight scene at the House of Blue Leaves in Kill Bill: Volume 1

Hitting enemies with a strong attack when they’re missing an appendage can also trigger a variety of brutal finishing moves. When this happens, the camera will quickly zoom in for a money shot of Ryu tearing enemies apart with stylized ferocity. In one finishing move we saw, Ryu planted his katana in the neck of an enemy and used the weight of his entire body to tear his head off, tossing the decapitated bad guy to the side like a used rag. In another, he sliced up a limping one-legged ninja, removing his head and his last leg with a single clean and curvy strike.

With scores of gimped ninjas relentlessly hobbling towards you like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we were worried that all the gratuitous guts and gore would sap the seriousness out of Ninja Gaiden II. Instead, it makes clearing rooms way more satisfying with lots of new wince-worthy animations that’ll make you cringe. Case in point: our favorite finishing move with the Falcon Talons where Ryu plants the blades strapped on his fist straight in the face of a bad guy.

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