Tag Archives: Ninja Gaiden 2

Pacific Vacation

I feel like a total slacker for neglecting my blog so much in the last few weeks. Apologies to the few of my friends who keep up with it. There’s a variety of reasons why: As I mentioned previously I had been trying to put my nose to the grindstone and get through Ninja Gaiden 2. I’d also not been playing much Oblivion since I had a backlog of Garn entries to write. That’s becoming a real bummer with the current format I’m using – I’m really excited to play but can only play so much before I need to stop and find time to write about what I’ve played. I’ve also been trying to get my America’s Army 3 clan off of the ground which I’ll write a lot more about soon. Probably my main excuse is that I usually write my blog entries during my downtime at work but due to changing positions and some new, major projects I’ve had very, very little useful downtime over the last few weeks.

Anyway, I did it! About two weeks ago now I managed to beat Ninja Gaiden 2 on warrior difficulty. Like the first game the difficulty kind of plateaued towards the middle – sure, they’d keep throwing new enemies at you but they didn’t necessarily get any harder, just different and, thankfully, I never ended up getting anywhere close to as pissed off at the game as I did earlier on. I ended switching from using my trusty leveled up Dragon Sword to my even trustier leveled up Eclipse Scythe and never really looked back.

The most notable thing about the finale of the game had to be the 9 (yes, 9!) boss battles more or less back to back in the last 3 levels of the game. Luckily only one, the second to last one, gave me any real trouble. Like the first game I’m shamefully sort of proud to have struggled through and beaten a game so few others have. I almost immediately changed my XBL avatar to a NG2 one in celebration. I can’t imagine playing it again any time soon through and hats off to the few, extremely hardcore players who continued upwards through the higher difficulty modes. No thanks!

I'm so glad Amazon.com doesn't have this problem.
“I’m so glad Amazon.com doesn’t have this problem.”

I moved on to the next game in my backlog queue, Battlestations: Midway for the Xbox 360, and man is it interesting. I don’t think I’d call myself a huge military/war buff compared to a lot of people out there but I do have an above average appreciation for such things and this is an entirely different take on the World War II genre. It reminds me of some sort of twisted interpretation of what Battlefield: 1942 was originally promised to be back before it was released and a lot of people didn’t think it’d ever work. “Wow man, you can run around on the ground, fly planes, drive tanks, even sail ships!” So yeah, Battlestations: Midway is like that, only as a real time strategy game instead of a first person shooter. Ok, that statement didn’t make much sense but I was totally asleep when I originally wrote it. 😉

I feel that I’m being somewhat inaccurate calling it an RTS though. It definitely is an RTS though it doesn’t have much in common by with the mainstream evolution of the genre. That is to say that there is no resource gathering and no base building. You simply have a bunch of different units, all vehicular, under your command. You also sometimes have units that can produce other units, most commonly aircraft carriers which can, of course, launch aircraft. Yes, given that his game focuses on the naval battles of the Pacific in World War II it mostly deals with ship (including submarine) and air combat.

You can direct your units’ targets, behaviors, and all of that, to some degree, both in game and by using a real time tactical map. You can also hop into any of these vehicular units and either observe or take over the controls yourself. The first person controls are mostly fairly arcadey though their are occasional simmy features thrown in. For example, the menu to manage assigning crew to repair damage to your ship is unlike anything I’d seen outside of a sim for years. Still, it all works out easily enough as long as you spend more time managing your units than of playing them.

PT boat versus heavy cruiser, I wonder how this will turn out.
“PT boat versus heavy cruiser, I wonder how this will turn out.”

Of course, like a lot of RTS games the single player campaign is far from the entire experience. Instead, you’re thrown into very specific scenarios with very specific units and objectives. I’m over half way through the single player campaign and ever since I put it down I’ve been pining for more. Despite the short campaign there are a number of single player “challenges” to play through as well.

Online is where this game (apparently) shines though, letting you and potentially three partners duke it out with up to four other people in anything goes, all units on the table, massive battles in and over the Pacific. The online is what originally got me interested in this game in the first place after reading recounts of some of the awesome, epic battles people were having over Live. I’m sure hardly anyone is playing it these days (especially with it’s sequel already out) and those who do are probably gods but I might end up giving it a try. I’m trying to burn through this one though, not making any special efforts for achievements or anything else before it’s on to the next game. At the very least it seems that my experience so far has bumped Battlestations: Pacific into my wish list.


I ran into some remarkable frustration earlier this week as I continued my play through of Ninja Gaiden 2 on Warrior difficulty. I had just beaten a mid level boss in chapter 6 and decided to push ahead to the next save point so that I could make sure my game was saved one last time and get to bed.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well of course not! I ended up spending over an hour, wishing hideous acts of violence upon Itagaki, trying to reach this next save point.

After the boss battle I was met by several fiends, including the annoying scorpion variety that I had mentioned in my last game log, as I climbed upwards along the rocky paths that lead out of the cavern where the boss battle had taken place. Thankfully I quickly developed a fairly dependable strategy of dealing with them with a minimal loss of health.

There were also a few jumps that could be tricky to pull off when being harassed by enemies. Failed jumps themselves were not deadly but would result in a free fall back to the bottom of the cavern. This was most irritating early on in the process when I had made it to the very end of the journey only to fail to stick my last landing and fall all the way back down to the beginning.

Fact: 97% of NG2 screenshots contain severed limbs.
“Fact: 97% of NG2 screenshots contain severed limbs.”

This is where a fairly new enemy, the bone scorpion, comes into play. Bone scorpions aren’t particularly tough enemies yet they appear in such numbers in this section that killing them was quite time consuming and usually resulted in some damage to my health bar along the way. The big annoyance here is that after falling back to the beginning they respawn for some reason. The attrition of my health bar after repeated falls was a frequent cause of death. After awhile I began attempting to simply run past as many of the bone scorpions as possible though this didn’t always work out for the best. If I wasn’t quick enough they’d usually catch up with me in a deadly mass and overwhelm me.

Finally, while the game generously auto-saves at the beginning of boss fights to allow you to replay them easily it evidently doesn’t see fit to save afterwards. This meant that I had to replay this boss battle over and over again. Perhaps the most annoying factor was that I easily schooled this particular boss the first time I fought him. A great deal of our subsequent battles, however, were major struggles. Even when I did survive them I had often used a costly number of my health scrolls in the process.

This all added up to be the most controller breakingly angry I had been while gaming in quite a long time. While I did eventually succeed I’m now, not even half way through the campaign, left thinking that I may be playing through this game for a much, much longer time than I would have ever predicted.

Slaying Giant Bugs

It seems like it has been forever since my last game log so I guess I’ll go ahead and spout off a little about my current ventures. Other than playing a healthy amount of Oblivion with Garn, of which you should be hearing about fairly soon, the main thing I did was finally start Ninja Gaiden 2.

Ninja Gaiden 2 started off great. Despite the numerous changes since the first Xbox Ninja Gaiden game it looked and felt pretty much the same. it even seemed just as polished which was surprising given some of the reviews and impressions I had read. On the second level I ran into a horribly annoying bug, however. I received an minor achievement only to be greeted with a blade message stating that the device my user profile was stored on had been disconnected and asking me to reconnect it if I wished to have my achievements recorded. What the hell? I doubled checked my connections, eventually chalking it up as a fluke and continuing on. A short time later it came up again. Again, I ignored it and all was well. It popped up again, and again, and again. It continued popping up randomly every few seconds to every few minutes.

My (admittedly relatively brief) research into the subject lead me to believe that this was actually a fairly widespread problem which started cropping up after the first Ninja Gaiden 2 update was released. Not only did the pop up interrupt people but apparently their achievements weren’t being updated either, regardless of the status of their connection to Xbox Live. I read many theories but one of the most prevalent ones suggested that the problem was caused by particular bugged achievements and that the only fix, which didn’t sound 100% reliable, was to recover your gamertag. The only other options I had were to either either play offline or clear my 360’s cache and refuse the update (which would, in turn, also force me to play offline.)

How to get a head in life... and maybe an arm and a leg too.
“How to get a head in life… and maybe an arm and a leg too.”

I wasn’t fond of any of these solutions. I wanted my achievements and I wanted to be online, in contact with friends. Instead I gritted my teeth and faced the level 2 boss, who wasn’t too easy in the first place, while being barraged by constant pop ups. Argh! I was pretty pissed about the entire situation. How could such a major bug in such a big title go unfixed for so long? How could this affect earning achievements in other games? I even considered scrapping the whole game but scrapping Ninja Gaiden isn’t easy for me – god knows I tried to give up the first one plenty of times out of frustration before finally beating it.

I didn’t get a chance to play the game again for quite a few days and luckily, so far, I’ve yet to encounter the bug again. My theory is that they had “sort of” fixed the issue in subsequent title updates. When I originally encountered the message I didn’t have any problems with having my achievements updating. The only oddity I noted with them was one of my recent achievements lacking the date it was awarded to me on but I still had it and my gamerscore was still correct. The fact that the problem seems to have gone away after clearing my cache and/or cycling the console suggests to me that the nature of the problem, as it originally appeared, has changed. Here’s hoping it doesn’t reappear!

At the time of this writing I’ve made it about half way through level 5 and suddenly difficulty has ramped up drastically. I’m encountering these exceedingly tough scorpion monsters and my save points, at least where I’m at now, are starting to thin out a bit. I should also mention that for some reason (the extra 100 achievement points and minor bragging rights, maybe?) I’m playing on the harder “Warrior” difficulty instead of the default one. I hope that doesn’t turn out to be a massive, frustrating mistake.

Damn, it’s nigh impossible to find actual screenshots of this game online. I pray the next generation of consoles include a screenshot feature in their standard UIs.