Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword is a Ninja Gaiden title for the Nintendo DS featuring the Dragon Ninja, Ryu Hayabusa as the main protagonist. The game is the first portable video game title in the series to be developed by Team Ninja. It is an Action-Adventure title presented in a 3rd person, pseudo-3D manner, meaning that all the game-models will be rendered in full 3D, but the world the player travels around in will be pre-rendered. The camera will be set in an isometric viewpoint and it will pan, following the player. The orientation of the Nintendo DS system while playing the game is holding it sideways in "book" mode, like in Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and Brain Age. The left screen shows the area map while the right screen shows the main gameplay when set for right handed play, and reverse when set for left handed play.
The game's gameplay is heavily dependent on the stylus. For example: By tapping the screen Ryu will throw one of his shurikens; by tapping and holding Ryu will run to the desired location; by drawing a horizontal line on an enemy Ryu will do a horizontal slash with his sword; by drawing a vertical line he will do a vertical slash; and by drawing up on the screen he will jump.
Use of Ryu's Ninpo magic is activated by tapping an icon on the touch screen; this brings up the outline of a Sanskrit letter to be traced with the stylus. Successfully tracing the letter activates the appropriate magic.
One can also charge an Ultimate Attack by sliding the stylus back and forth on Ryu, which results in an aura forming under him, which grows more powerful the longer the stylus is held on the screen (it is no longer necessary to slide the stylus after the essence forms) and becomes red when completely charged. If the stylus is lifted from the screen Ryu will jump out to where the stylus was lifted from, many Oval-Shaped blades of the energy following, attacking everything nearby.
All the buttons on the Nintendo DS except for Start and Select will be used for blocking enemy attacks.
A playable demo of the game was downloadable from the DS Download Station volume 7.
Six months after the events of Ninja Gaiden (chronicled as the Dark Dragon Blade Incident), Ryu Hayabusa has rebuilt the Hayabusa Village. After a training session with the up-and-coming kunoichi, Momiji, she is kidnapped by members of the Black Spider Ninja Clan, on orders from their leader, Obaba, who hopes to obtain the Eye of the Dragon for the ancient Fiend, Ishtaros. As Ryu desperately searches for her, he is suddenly transported back to the monastery in Tairon, capital city of the Holy Vigoor Empire, where he faces hordes of Fiends in the vicinity. After finding a peculiar object, he returns to his village, where master swordsmith, Muramasa, informs him it is a Dark Dragonstone, containing the will and essence of the Dark Dragon. If all eight stones were gathered, it would unleash a power much greater than the Dark Dragon Blade. Muramasa feels confident Ryu will manage to find all eight, thus the young ninja heads to seek out the rest of the stones.
Once Ryu finds seven Dark Dragonstones, the stones lead him to the Black Spider's hideout. There, he finds Obaba, now transformed into a Fiend, and defeats her. The stones reveal a portal down to the Underworld, where Ishtaros awaits the ninja at the Gates of Hell, with an unconscious Momiji as her hostage. The Fiend steals the seven Dragonstones and the eighth is revealed to be in Ishtaros' possession: the jewel embedded into her crown. Ishtaros goes on the offensive, stating since she has control of all eight stones and the Dragon Sword's power is nothing without the Eye of the Dragon, Ryu cannot defeat her. Suddenly, the spirit of the deceased shrine maiden, Kureha, appears and draws out Momiji's spirit. Together, they release the Eye of the Dragon, which fuses with the Dragon Sword, becoming the True Dragon Sword for a second time. Ryu easily defeats Ishtaros, until Nicchae, her twin sister, appears and takes Ishtaros' body and the stones deeper into Hell, to resurrect the Holy Vigoor Emperor.
Unfortunately, the will of the Dark Dragon embedded in the stones is too strong for the Fiends to handle, thus destroying the symbolic Emperor, before it can fully resurrect, and encases Ishtaros in a cocoon. Resigned to her fate that The Dark Dragon will rise again, Nicchae engages Ryu. He mortally wounds her, and as the cocoon absorbs Nicchae, the Dark Dragon bursts out of the shell. Ryu is forced to slay the beast and bring an end to the destruction it could bring. The battle over, Momiji is finally rescued. They return to the Hayabusa Village and after Momiji visits Kureha's grave, promising she will become stronger to better protect herself and the Eye of the Dragon, joins Ryu to continue her training.
- Hideyuki Hori as Ryu Hayabusa
- Takeshi Aono as Muramasa
- Yuki Mizoguchi as Momiji
- Hiroko Emori as Obaba
Ninja Gaiden series director Tomonobu Itagaki stated that he decided to make the game for the Nintendo DS because of the originality that the platform allows, which he felt was the most important aspect of a handheld platform, and also to create a challenge for himself. Itagaki also claimed that his children wanted one of his titles on the platform.
One of Itagaki's goals with Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword was to create a game that can be played by all gamers everywhere, saying that his other titles "have traditionally targeted men above the age 18 and Westerners." An example of this is that the characters that are traced to perform ninpo magic, were originally kanji; this was changed to the more "culture-neutral" Sanskrit to make things more fair for non-Japanese audiences.
- Dragon Sword can be abbreviated as DS, likely a reference to the platform it was released on.
- If you beat the dragon boss in the tutorial level as Momiji, you'll unlock Rin, the mysterious female ninja. Oddly enough, she looks exactly like Momiji and uses the same voice over as her. Once you unlock Rin, you'll unlock Master Kunoichi, which is the same difficulty as normal. The only difference in playstyle is that you do not get the Izuna Drop, you have to buy that.
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