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Team Ninja | Tecmo | 2004
If you ever wanted to feel like a true badass, this is the game for you. It's not for the faint of heart or weak of skill, however
What made it so great?
One of the most hotly anticipated games in the history of the Xbox, Ninja Gaiden lived up to the lofty expectations that developer Team Ninja's Dead or Alive fighting-and-cheesecake series could never quite match. From the first second you slip the disc into the Xbox, the game is brutally intense, with punishing difficulty; your only option is to get good at the game, and fast.
The reward is being able to play one of the most engrossing action-adventure games ever. While the main focus is the speedy ninja combat, clever level design with light Zelda-like touches and gorgeous graphics - so beautiful they were like a preview of the next generation - bolster the action. The developers' heritage with fighting games allowed them to offer the most complex, yet smooth character control in an action game yet, and mastering ninja Ryu's moves was an addictive odyssey for hardcore players.
Get ready to play
Ninja Gaiden is, stated simply, one of the most difficult action games yet released. Consequently, it's not for the weak-willed. Fortunately, it was later re-released with a snarkily named "ninja dog" difficulty option under the title Ninja Gaiden Black... so if you're worried about the toughness, start there.
Been there, done that?
Talk about an overlooked game - Otogi 2 married beautiful Japanese aesthetics to massive levels and sublime sword action. While it can't compete with Ninja Gaiden from a speed and technique angle, it has its own mystic charms that aren't to be missed.
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