When I was little, my father was famous. He was the greatest samurai in the empire, and he was the Shogun's decapitator. He cut off the heads of a hundred and thirty-one lords. It was a bad time for the empire, The Shogun just stayed inside his castle and he never came out.
People said his brain was infected by devils. My father would come home, he would forget about the killings. He wasn't scared of the Shogun, but the Shogun was scared of him. Maybe that was the problem. Then, one night, the Shogun sent his ninja spies to our house. They were supposed to kill my father but they didn't. That was the night everything changed.
No, wait a minute. Sorry, wrong story -
When I was little, Ninja Gaiden was awesome. First of all, it had ninjas. And second, well... who needed a second? It had ninjas. Remember this would have been right smack dab in the middle of the Ninja Turtles hype. So to me, anything with ninjas was awesome. And I remember playing all three games in the NES trilogy with glee.
Quick side-story (or gaiden, sorry) that I'm embarrassed to admit: When I was a kid I didn't understand that there was kanji in the game's logo on the artwork. So when I was younger I thought that the kanji was the word "the" just sort of stylized. So for a while there I thought the game was actually called "Ninja: The Gaiden." Seriously. I wasn't always this smart.
Anyway, I remember thinking that the animations were so cool in this game. Like the fact that you could stick to the sides of things? Awesome! All those crazy power-ups? Awesome! Those anime style cutscenes? Awesome! It just seemed like a game that oozed cool. And ninjas.
I will say that those cutscenes ARE still awesome. I've been trying to go back and play some old games like a crazed madman lately. We are expecting a daughter this summer, and I know that my gaming time will be diminished, so I've been trying to cram in some classics now while I've got the time to do so. However, I also know that my time is limited to do this which can make my patience run low. Basically, a game has to really grab me or else.
Which brings us to Ninja Gaiden today. Look, ninjas are still awesome in 2019. But I'm gonna need a little more to hold my interest. And unfortunately the gameplay just isn't doing it. I no longer find the controls to be cool. The wall-sticking/jumping feels annoying and imprecise to me. The constant barrage of power-ups is confusing because I never seem to have time to get comfortable with what I've got.
But far more importantly, this game is annoying to me. It's not "hard," it's just frustrating. Getting hit once will often stun you - but not leave you invincible long enough to stop you from taking multiple hits while stunned, like in many other games. People complain about Medusa heads in Castlevania? Well screw that. Have you seen the eagles in this one? What really got me was enemy placement such as making a jump only to have an unseen enemy appear on the other side to instantly knock you into a pit. Annoying. It feels like this game was built around pure memorization of each stage and that kind of game just isn't fun for me anymore. Apparently.