Taking a beating on the PS3: Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and Demon’s Souls

I’ve been playing video games for over 20 years.  Though the years, I’ve conquered games on 9 different consoles and a half dozen PC operating systems.

When I start a new game, I wrestle with my conscience at the level of difficulty screen. Normal or hard?  Will normal be too easy?  Will hard be too hard?  Do I want to enjoy the game or do I want to push myself?  I want things to be challenging, but I don’t want them to be ridiculous.

If it’s a first-person shooter, I usually go with the hard setting if it’s available from the initial start-up screen, because I have played them for 14 of the 20 years I’ve been playing games.  I pushed through both Call of Duty: World at War and Killzone 2 on the harder difficulty setting, though my blood pressure sky-rocketed from the time I pressed start until when the credits rolled.

Even if I don’t play a game on hard, I feel like I should, and the cranky codger stirs anytime I see or play a game that is a cakewalk.

I was playing Prince of Persia, which while beautiful is a ten hour stroll in the park, so I’m giddy at the release in recent weeks of two titles on the PS3 that cater specifically to the hardcore gamer – Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and Demon’s Souls.

Ninja Gaiden was the only game on the original NES I played and didn’t finish.  I didn’t finish it until I was in college and played it on Nesticle.  The XBOX’s Ninja Gaiden Black is one of the best games for that console, though it can be prohibitively hard for the casual gamer.  One of my gaming buddies stopped playing it where many other gamers did, at a boss midway through the game.

If you haven’t played any of the last or current generation Ninja Gaiden games, it has one of the finest fighting mechanics in any game.  You can grind it out with enemies or you can kill them with one swift combo, if you are good enough.  Yes, the camera can be a bitch, but such is the burden of most games with a third-person perspective.  Agreed, it is difficult, but Sigma 2 rebalanced the often ridiculous action from its 360 predecessor to make it more like fun and less like work.  In other words, you won’t get shot repeatedly from archers three miles away as you try to work through a level or face down yet ANOTHER horde of enemies after just dispatching two dozen baddies.