There are six ninjas on your Vita. Right now.
There are so many reasons why we play games: as a distraction, to entertain, to express hatred for oneself. Sometimes we simply need a game, for that urge to unleash some aggression, and sometimes we need a game to unleash some aggression on ourselves (I guess). And, sometimes, ninjas are involved. This might explain how Ninja Gaiden came to be in the first place back in the late 1980s.
Now, the series graces the Vita for the first time with a port of Ninja Gaiden from the original Xbox (and later titled NG Sigma on the PS3). Ryu Hayabusa is tasked with fighting a bunch of bad guys who went ape-shit on his home village and stole an evil sword called the Dark Dragon Blade, and there's just enough plot points for him to move from stage to stage. But seriously, who plays a game like this for the story? It's already ludicrious that it goes from an ancient, burning Shinto temple to an airship (which is awesome).
It's impressive how fluid the action on screen can be at any given moment, even with the occasional camera issues of stopping behind people when your character is pinned down or when the wall is blocking any more movement. Thankfully, that doesn't happen too often, which makes it easier to appreciate the touches on the outfits and armor of everything on screen. Environments are equally pretty at times, but some spaces feel more like generic set pieces, just filler, especially when they're so close to some gorgeous spots. One moment you're in a burning Shinto temple where it rains fire, and the next you're in boring, empty corridors.
The top problem for me is the sheer difficulty. I'd heard how hard it gets before, and I'd seen it in action but largely held off and just watched how pretty it was. But after getting my hands on it, I realize the true difference between "difficult" and "overly cheap". I can appreciate difficult games, games that slaughter you and have you begging "Thank you sir, may I have another." But I hate feeling like no matter what I do, I'm going to die. A lot. A LOT. That cannot be stressed enough; if you like a challenge, this will provide it without a problem. If you lose often enough, the game will offer you an easier mode to play, but it will make fun of you a little for doing so. As it should, I suppose.
As far as controlling Ryu goes, it's hit-or-miss. Striking is simple enough and more elaborate attacks are easily grasped, but the jumping controls have a mind of their own. Just trying to hop up crates or down a small opening is irritating at best and maddeningly frustrating at worst. Just the right angle, just the right spot to stand and line up, and no enemies interrupting your path. Oh, and sometimes a running start. Standard jump mechanics, there are not.
There are plenty of weapons, skills, and armor to find throughout the world, perfect to power up your personal Ryu and search for the sword his clan was charged with protecting. When you get down to it, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is the same game that was released a few years back, and if you need that on the go, this is the best way to fill the need. Or, if you need something pretty that can beat you up (like a hot MMA fighter), this will do the trick.