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How Dark Souls’ intensity reminds me of Ninja Gaiden

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I bought Dark Souls because I really wanted to experience something different in a role-playing game. I love all the life-like graphics and sounds of this adventure.

Dark Souls’ intense difficulty also brought back my grueling memories of the unfair Ninja Gaiden games in the 8-bit era.

There were many hardcore platformers back in those early days, but Ninja Gaiden 2: The Dark Sword of Chaos was especially brutal. In that classic Nintendo game, I had to survive attacks from all sorts of annoying birds and monkeys. Each attack could literally knock my ninja off of a cliff, killing him. To make matters worse, each animal and enemy ninja could respawn repeatedly after the main character passes a certain part of the screen.

Ninja Gaiden 2 for the NES

The cheap deaths in Dark Souls are almost too similar to those in Ninja Gaiden. Hordes of zombies often ganged up on my female soldier to slash her to death. Goblins sometimes grabbed her and bit off half of her health. Some of the creatures turned her to stone by spewing only one or two clouds at her.

Believe me, I should have just quit Dark Souls. The game had sadistic ways to keep me playing, though. Every time my soldier died, she left all her souls in the same place where I died. If I ever wanted those souls back, I’d somehow have to survive through the same horrible attacks in that spot. The challenge is just as thrilling and agonizing as a level in Ninja Gaiden 2.

I really didn’t expect such an intense role-playing adventure. The dark, alluring atmosphere of Dark Souls made me want explore through it, though. Each new area looked strangely surreal. The Darkroot Garden’s glowing fireflies and foggy clouds are as mystical as the forests in Alaska. I loved watching the light reflect off of the black, murky water in a catacombs area called “Depths.”

The sound effects also sounded very realistic. In fact, I often felt like I was exploring a national park when I was playing. The sounds made me feel as if I could taste every drop of the rivers that I wade through. I also loved how the orchestral music stayed silent for the majority of the game, so that I could appreciate all the soothing sounds of nature.

Believe me, I’d keep playing this game if it didn’t abuse me with over-powered monsters and numerous pitfalls in the terrain. I’d like to play this game to the very end if it didn’t throw everything but the kitchen sink at me. All these cheap deaths kept bringing back all the worst, nightmarish memories from the 8-bit era.

I really wanted to forget about all the pain I suffered in my old Nintendo games. Dark Souls is like an excruciating nostalgia trip to those days, but the atmosphere is too incredible to describe in words.  Hopefully the sequel will intrigue me in the same way whenever it comes out.

How does Dark Souls compare to some of the other intense games in the early Nintendo era? What are some of your favorite hardcore moments in previous games? Write about them in the comments below.


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