Here we go again - except this time we're ready. We're ready for the ultimate edition of one of the greatest games ever released on Xbox. Some people got it, some didn't, crying "it's too hard!". Then again, others claimed it was too easy - hence the inclusion of the Master Ninja difficulty level. But when you get your head round the fact that you're actually playing a beat 'em up in the Dead or Alive or Tekken mode, and not any old third-person action game, you've won half the battle. And if you can't get into it, Tecmo has caved in to public demand - there's now an 'easier' difficulty level, aptly titled Ninja Dog.
Essentially, Black is the end result of Tecmo continuing to fine-tune the game long after the incredible original was released. Even harder levels of difficulty have been crammed into the story mode, and the retro arcade game is in there, as are new costumes, new enemies and - here's the best bit - a staggering 50 challenges to plunge your sword into, all for budget prices. The controversial camera has also undergone some, tweakage too - though not enough, if you ask us.
So what's the catch, then? Well, Tecmo does ask that you complete the game on Hard before tucking into all the extra content. That in itself is one of the biggest gaming challenges you're ever likely to face. But it is possible.
Successfully completing each set of missions opens up the next batch. And they get harder and harder and harder. And harder. They all feature a mind-boggling amount of enemies (new and old), mixed with the odd boss character or two, or three. But the more you play, the more you learn and the easier it all becomes.
To stand any chance of progression (and enjoyment), you really do need to use every skill Ryu possesses. You've got to run along the walls, know each weapon's combos, block every attack, use your Ninpo (magic) and leap around your enemies, hacking and slicing with precision. Ultimate Techniques must also be used when ever possible (as in, all the time). Go in there bashing the buttons like a maniac and you'll get nowhere. Start to think about what you're doing, though, and you'll start to get the hang of it. If you manage to complete all 50 missions on all difficulty levels, you are an official gaming god. You're friends will owe you a beer, or milk if you're under 18. You'll find very few games out there that'll give you nearly the same buzz when you've finished them. There are hours and hours of fantastic gameplay to be had, and yet more hours of screaming in a foaming fit of rage at the telly.
If we were stuck on a desert island with a TV, an Xbox and a generator, Ninja Gaiden Black is the only game we'd need. It really is that good!
Incredible to watch, incredible to play. One of the finest gaming experiences ever created, only on Xbox, and only 20!