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Itagaki tells us that Dragon Sword is being developed with a focus very much on the offense, and it shows: For all the forms of attacking there are, there is only one type of block, which just happens to be any button you press on the DS (some of us favored the D-pad, some the face buttons, and one of us the right shoulder, which his thumb rested on as he held the DS). In fact, we played through the entire demo without even really using this block command, though we’re sure it will become more of a necessity in the full version. Still, those who were put off by the difficulty of the first Xbox Ninja Gaiden will be happy to know that they intend for this game to be easier, though Itagaki still hasn’t decided if they’ll use multiple difficulty settings a la Ninja Gaiden: Black.
As we mentioned before, the DS controls feel very natural in Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword. We asked Itagaki if Nintendo’s other controls-focused system, the Nintendo Wii, excited him with its possibilities for a future Ninja Gaiden adventure. The answer was a very genuine yes, but that was about as much as he offered us on that subject. And those who are still a little suspicious of a DS action game that uses the touch screen almost exclusively can rest easy knowing Itagaki and company are planning to offer demo download stations at local GameStops, so you can try before you buy. But take our word for it; the controls are beautiful.
Finally, two more facts that Itagaki shared with us are that the game will be strictly single player (he just doesn’t see multiplayer fitting with the overall concept) and that the babe-tastic Rachel won’t be making an appearance in this version. But don’t let that get you down, because this Ninja Gaiden still looks and plays fantastic. It offers some of the best, if not the best visuals yet seen on Nintendo’s handheld - it's comparable to a PSP game - and this slash 'em-up action experience couldn’t be more welcome on a platform where that type of genre is sorely lacking.
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