Next up is our second Nintendo Power Strategy Guide, for Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. Unfortunately… Nintendo Power’s apparent weakness when it comes to cover art is the Ninja Gaiden games, because this one doesn’t look so hot. The photographed guy-in-black-pajamas is back, and the background doesn’t have any perspective to it at all. Look, guys, most of your cover art is great – but there’s some stuff where the photographed cover art doesn’t work that well – and this is one of those cases. Here I’d reccomend, basically, skipping doing the photographed cover art, and let one of your interior artists get a shot at the limelight.
We start off the issue proper with a semi-recap collage thing covering the last game. We also get a two page comic strip which, probably, recaps some of the content from the first cutsecene in a comic strip form… and at the very least they have the same letterer as Howard & Nester. Next up is a quick little dramatis personae, though the full sized art they have of Ryu is waaayyyy too western looking – it’s the chin, and something in general about the face structure. Everyone else looks okay though. We also get a list of the many generic monsters we’ll run into in the game, and the slightly less common power ups that will aid us along our way – including the new power of the Ninja Double/Shadow Clone, which is one of the most useful new powers in the game.
Scratch what I said about the in-house artists – the art for the poster isn’t photographed, and it is godawful. The B-Side of the poster is general fun-facts about the ninja, which most people could probably find someplace else. Fortunately we get something more useful in the next article, a list of useful techniques in the game, including being able to use techniques when clinging to a wall (which I don’t recall you could do in the first game), as well as improved re-direction while jumping in mid-air. Finally, we move on to the first level of the game itself – and the first piece of art that doesn’t suck! Okay, so holding your sword in your teeth while you use a jutsu is still rather silly, but this isn’t as painful as some of the other stuff.
Anyway, one of the little changes from the Super Mario Bros 3 issue, is that on the first page of the map, they have a picture of the general shape of the level by putting, basically, a thumbnail picture of the level over there. It’s very helpful. Anyway, we get strategies for the boss fight and then a comic adaptation of the next cutscene, before moving on to the next level (with even better art than the last piece of art.) So, from here we get very nicely detailed maps (with notes), and some very in-depth boss strategies, which is very helpful, particularly in a game like this. Ultimately, for a game like this, level maps aren’t too useful, except maybe for telling you what power-ups are where, and occasionally giving information on getting hard-to-reach items and some strategic places to use your power-ups – but the advice on the boss fights, with pictures of the boss arena, are invaluable. Anyway, we get maps and boss strategies through Acts 1 through the first two areas of Act 7.
So, is this guide useful, and would it have been worth the subscription. Yes, if just for the information on the boss fights, and what power-ups are where – considering that Ninja Gaiden (at least the NES games) is one of those games which has enough Ninja Power/Secondary Weapon variety that it’s likely for a player to have a “favorite”, and that further once the player’s got their favorite, they won’t want to lose it (see also: Castlevania). So, I’ll play through the game again, and tomorrow I’ll have my review up.