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Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden makes its hotly anticipated DS debut in an original adventure filled with the fast-paced fighting sequences fans expect from the series. Dragon Sword features a mix of 2D backgrounds and 3D characters, as players guide the nimble Ryu Hayabusa across a series of pre-rendered screens using the touch-screen interface. The DS is held like a book, with the default orientation displaying an overhead map on the left and the action on the right. Tapping the right screen not only controls Ryu's movement, but it also initiates actions like jumps, shuriken throws, and combat with his trusted Dragon Sword. Combat involves moving the stylus across the screen to perform a standard slashing motion. Players can also slash downward and upward by mimicking the vertical motion with the stylus, offering a total of three sword attacks. Ninpo techniques are also included in the handheld version, requiring players to trace an onscreen Sanskrit symbol before unleashing the powerful ability. The only technique performed without the stylus is blocking or guarding, which is accomplished simply by pressing any of the handheld's buttons. Tapping the screen while holding down a block button will allow Ryu to perform an evasive maneuver. Dragon Sword also features a playable female character as well as an assortment of unlockable surprises. Unlike the console versions, Ninja Gaiden on DS only features a sword as Ryu's main weapon. Yet the sword can be upgraded with new powers throughout the game by collecting "dark dragon" items from defeated boss characters. In a nod to earlier Ninja Gaiden titles on NES, the storyline is revealed through comic book-style panels for dramatic effect. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
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