A couple of days ago I walked into the GameStop over in Elmwood Park within five minutes of closing, wanting to trade in Assassin’s Creed for something without an annoying buzzer every time I enter combat . I first looked at Dirt 2–which I’ve heard many good things about–and then over at Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, which I thought would help me out with my Kratos withdrawal. Knowing my time was running out quickly, I asked the guy behind the counter: “I know they’re two entirely different games, but which do you recommend–Dirt 2 or Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2?” He looked at the boxes and said, “Well, man, ninjas are always more cool than a bunch of stupid cars, right?”
And that was that. One weekend later, I’m done with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. I think there was a story, but I’m not quite sure what it was. Good conquered evil, I’m sure. I’m not entirely sure, however, that I can write a review of the game since my main questions revolve around the wonder that women that are as, er, well-endowed as those found in NGS2 can fight so well.
Above: I mean, seriously.
In addition, the trophy system for the game is rigged in such a way to leave you profoundly unsatisfied. After beating the game on the hardest available difficulty and sitting through the credits, a single silver trophy popped up. “Keep going,” I muttered, but nothing else appeared. You see, boys and girls, Tecmo expects you to play through the game at *least* four times before you get get the platinum. At least. I’ve read online that it’s taken some dedicated ninjas around eight times. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 doesn’t even give you the trophy for beating the game on the easiest difficulty after beating it on hard. That’s right–you have to hack and slash your way through New York (again trashed here), “The City of Canals” (i.e., Venice with some extra goodies thrown in), and Mount Fuji all the way through on easy. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is definitely a game that I’ll keep in my library, but I highly doubt I’ll be going after that platinum.
To celebrate my victory over evil or somesuch, my wife and I went to the Osaka Japanese Gardens here in Chicago. Despite having lived a quick jog away for several years, I’d never been to this beautiful, peaceful part of the city. Originally built in 1893 as a part of the World’s Columbian Exhibition, the garden and part of the surrounding island served as the location for the Japanese pavilion. Over the years, it slightly changed location and was later named for Osaka, one of Chicago’s sister cities. While exquisitely landscaped, the small garden is not without reminders that you’re on the South Side. On the large lantern beside the entrance, for instance, you can find some inscriptions spraypainted in Thuggish by the locals, ever happy to demonstrate their unique interpretation of kanji. Before leaving, I made sure to get my own version of the spot’s most over-photographed view, which you can find below.
Above: There are 50 hidden ninjas in this photo. Can you find them?
If you happen to be in Chicago, the Osaka Garden is certainly worth a visit. If your knowledge of Japan has chiefly come to you through ninja slashers and anime fetishes, the garden is a pleasant local reminder that Japan has its thoughtful and peaceful side as well.