One of the best things about the original Ninja Gaiden being hard was loading up videos on YouTube of people absolutely pounding and owning the Master Ninja difficulty setting. They made us take our style back to the drawing board and work harder. It could be done - we saw it on the internet.
A big new feature for Ninja Gaiden II is the Ninja Cinema. Now, this doesn't mean you can watch classics like Kinji Fukasaku's Shogun's Samurai (maybe Microsoft could release some themed movies via Marketplace's Video Store?).
It means you can record yourself playing the game, then watch your technique over and over again, perfecting how you block and counter, and then upload your video to Xbox Live for the world to sit up and take note of.
The version of the code we have requires you to turn the Ninja Cinema's recording function on or off in the options menu. This could change for the final version though. But back in the single-player game there's an eagle in the top right-hand corner of the screen indicating when you're in recording mode.
There seems to be no limit to how long you can record your games, too. After getting caught up in some massive battle we forgot that the eagle was watching us, and left it recording for an entire chapter. We'd imagine the size of files you're recording would be limited by the space left on your hard drive though. A few of our movies clocked in at just under two hours.
But you can record yourself for as little or as long as you like. Why not show the world how good you are with both melee and projectile weapons? Once you're happy with your performance, you can tweak the footage a bit like Halo 3's Saved Films option.
The full feature set of the final version of Ninja Cinema has yet to be confirmed, but we do know that you'll be able to put different visual filters over the action to give it that proper movie style of presentation, a bit like activating the sepia mode on a digital camera.
That means you can make your footage look a lot more like a traditional Ninja film if you so wish. There's a very arty, black-and-white Akira Kurosawa-style video filter, mimicking that traditional Japanese samurai film look. Think The Seven Samurai - one of Kurosawa's all-time classics, but with Ryu Hayabusa going mental with the Falcon's Talons (the wolverine-style claws) instead of some 1950s actor crying in the rain.
Once you've played movie director you'll then be able to upload your finished clips to Xbox Live for the world to see, or rather people that have an Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. One of Tecmo's hopes for this mode is that it will boost the Ninja Gaiden community. The OXM guys regularly got sent videos of readers moving like the wind to put on the magazine's disc, so we already know there's a huge demand for showing off in front of an audience. Xbox Live is the perfect platform for such ninja-related antics.
It's popularity is inevitable (as was Halo 3's Saved Films) as user-generated content is where it's at. If you've got mad skills you could send your mates a video of you turning 20 ninjas into human sushi without being hit. Or if your ninja arts aren't quite up to the mental challenge of Ninja Gaiden's insane difficulty setting (Master Ninja), you could log into the wealth of uploaded videos on Xbox Live and find out how the best players in the world are defeating that giant boss that keeps chewing your face off.
Watching others' techniques in real-time beats going to YouTube for blurry low-res clips like we did with the first game too. And if you could rate video and leave comments that would be even better, although we'll have to wait and see if Tecmo includes a feedback option. Fingers crossed, eh?
Ninja Gaiden II compo: Q4
What type of weapon does Ryu rely on aside from melee?