I couldn’t get myself to write a list for Game of the Year 2016 so here is a short piece about Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2

This year, despite the intense workload required of finishing my criminal justice degree, I somehow managed to play a number of good games. Say what you will about escapism with regard to getting stuff done, but from a self-care standpoint it is important to shut all of that out from time to time. Games are a good way for me to do that. I wanted to write a bit about each of those games, but I realized that writing overly detailed lists is boring and I don’t want to just write why I like each of those games. I want to look at specific things in each of them and write more critically than “hey, this game is good because x.” So instead, here is a bunch of words about Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 which kind of do what I said I didn’t want to do for the other games I liked.

I don’t know why, suddenly, at the very end of 2016, I decided I needed to replay Team Ninja’s Ninja Gaiden series. The past several years have been made up of Souls-like games occupying the space where this series once sat. It was a point of pride to be able to say you had completed a Ninja Gaiden game. I played the hell out of the original Xbox release of the first game, and played even more of the first Sigma when it was released on PS3. However, not having access to an Xbox 360 I never got to play Ninja Gaiden 2. Somehow, but probably because of college and a combination of other things, I missed out on Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 on PS3.

I am really glad I decided to go back and play this game. Holy shit. Ryu Hayabusa is every bit as much of a whirl-wind demon-mulching machine as the Doomslayer is in DOOM. The combat is extremely fast and challenging and violent and I’ve surprised myself because I’m not bad at this game. The story is absolute trash, a loose series of events that act as justification for ninja violence and that’s totally fine. In fact its part of what makes it great. Early on in the game Ryu goes to New York, fights a demon on top of the statue of liberty and then when that demon dies it transfers its power to the statue and you FIGHT THE STATUE OF LIBERTY. Then there are just dumb little details like when you’re standing in Times Square and you look up at the stock exchange ticker and instead of fake stock information the word “BANK” just scrolls repeatedly across a mostly black bar. Later in the game you’re destroying an airship from the inside and a man on a loudspeaker announces that “The armadillo is overheating” and you don’t know what that means until you’re on the ground in a snow-covered arena fighting a giant armadillo that proceeds to go nuclear once you’ve killed it. It doesn’t make any sense what-so-ever and it’s perfect because of it.

Addendum: I have questions about the DOA/Ninja Gaiden lore and universe as a result of this game that I might explore in writing later on.

Some other games I played this year that I thought were very good include:

Dark Souls III

DOOM

h a c k m u d

Salt & Sanctuary

Let it Die

Watch_Dogs 2

Quadrilateral Cowboy

Superhot

Mafia III

p.s. I lied about this list you’ve just seen it

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