Today seems to be the day that Tecmo Koei has marked on its calendar with big, bold letters reading, “reveal all Vita release dates.” Hot on the heels of revealing a release date for the handheld’s upcoming Dead or Alive 5+ the publisher has also officially served up a release date for the Vita incarnation of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus (or, as Tecmo Koei calls it, “Ninja Gaiden ∑2+“).
According to Tecmo Koei, the game will reach Sony’s flagship handheld gaming device on February 26. As usual that release date only applies to North America; European gamers will have to wait until March 1 to get their hands on the portable action title.
While the publisher didn’t reveal much beyond those dates, this is a new version of a very old game so we know quite a bit about it already. As that unwieldy title suggests, the Vita game is an adaptation of the PlayStation 3’s Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, which, in turn, was an adaptation of 2008’s Xbox 360-exclusive Ninja Gaiden 2. The official Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus website hosts a list of new features added to the handheld iteration of the title, including a “Ninja Race” mode that pits players against one another in a competition to see who can finish the game’s stages most rapidly. Further, Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma Plus is said to include four playable characters: Default series protagonist Ryu Hayabuse, Dead or Alive’s Ayane, Ryu’s apprentice Momiji and the worryingly top-heavy Rachel are all featured in the game, and each brings with them “newly-designed costumes.”
Translation: Expect the three female characters to be even more scantily clad than they were previously.
All of these new features should prove tempting to existing fans of the series and Vita owners who crave a difficult yet gory adventure, but we’re more concerned about how Tecmo Koei intends to utilize the Vita’s touchscreen functions. Sony’s handheld features a touchscreen both on its front and at its rear, and to date very few developers have found a way to use this hardware without it feeling like a gimmick tacked on at the last minute. The modern Ninja Gaiden games rely on lighting-fast reflexes and sharp focus, so hopefully the publisher doesn’t do anything to detract from these aspects while attempting to appease whichever Sony executive demands that all Vita titles take full advantage of the handheld hardware. We won’t know how this thing pans out until February, but in the meantime, let’s keep our fingers crossed that Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus survives the jump to the Vita with all of its bloody fun intact. If not, Tecmo Koei is going to have to sell the game based purely on copious T&A, and after years of seeing that in the Dead or Alive franchise such shallow marketing attempts are getting a bit tired.