Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (NES)

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos Box Art

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos

System: NES

Release Date: May 1990

Developer: Tecmo

Publisher: Tecmo

Genre: Action

We get a sequel to Tecmo’s flagship cinematic game with Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. A year has passed since defeating Jaquio deep in the Amazon. You prevented evil from taking over the world, but only for a time. The evil lord, Ashtar, is now on the move to continue his work to force the world on bended knee. A new adventure begins for Ryu Hayabusa as he must once again save the world!

Most levels are your straight forward kill enemies and jump gaps affair. There are glowing spheres all over each level with a fixed item inside. Outside of the useless score items, there is ninja power. These come in blue, which adds ten points to your meter, and red, which fills it completely. There are also occasional scrolls that will increase your maximum energy by ten points. New to this adventure are Ninja Shadows. Up to two orange shadows can follow you. They move exactly the same as you have and swing swords or use ninja arts when you do. This addition adds a lot of power to Ryu.

There are five Ninja Arts that you can find during your journey. You start with the basic throwing star, but you won’t have it for long, as the other arts are all over each level. The Windmill Throwing Star can be used indefinitely if you can consistently jump over it and keep it on screen. The Fire Wheel allow you to take diagonally above you, hitting spheres and enemies that would otherwise hurt you. The Fire Dragon Balls shoot diagonally downward and are useful for clearing lower platforms. The Invincible Fire Wheel surrounds you for a short period of time, but stops even earlier if you accidentally grab a new power up while it’s active. This happens way more than you’d like, because there are way too many powerup changes throughout the levels.

The other new addition is the ability to climb up any wall and it sure is welcome. While jumping back and forth was cool, being able to just climb up a wall is convenient. You still have to do a tactical jump to get on top of a platform. There are some gimmick levels in store for you that vary on the infuriating level. The wind level requires you to time your jumps to succeed. The darkness level forces you to wait for lightning bolts to light up the screen long enough for you to make your jumps. The water level slows your movement down or speeds you up, depending on the flow. The ice level acts just as you would expect, making it harder to gain speed and more difficult to stop.

If you’re familiar with the original, you’re familiar with endlessly respawning enemies depending on the pixel at the edge of the screen. This seems more exaggerated because enemies are a lot meaner than the original. Bosses are easy enough if your life is high. The first and sixth level bosses are basically a rehash of bosses from the original, but others are new, even if not very difficult. The final level requires you to defeat three bosses in a row and if you fail, it’s back to the beginning of level 7-2. Luckily, the bosses you beat stay beaten, but that level is troublesome to get through.

Graphics: 4.0

The cinematic scenes are really the best thing that the NES has done so far. Level graphics and sprites look good, as well, with minimal flicker.

Sound: 3.0

Music and sounds are good, but not amazing.

Gameplay: 3.0

There are few changes to the formula of the original, but it feels the same.

Difficulty: 2.5

The pixel sensitive enemy respawning and birds make your life hell.

Fun Factor: 3.0

It’s a good time, but the last level took an hour to get through completely.

Overall Grade: 3.1

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos earns a B. It’s really more of the same from the original, but that’s not a bad thing.

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos Video Review on YouTube