This is a great game. My first impression was, "This game is beautiful!" That was followed quickly by, "Good gravy, this game is HARD!" After five black ninjas popped out of an alley and filled my body with exploding shirukens, I was wondering if I had in fact chosen "Normal" difficulty or hit "Make Me Cry Like a Little Girl" difficulty by mistake.
I'm used to popping in a game and being able to get the hang of it fairly quickly. I mean, these games nowadays aren't as hard as they used to be. Like on the NES, you'd have to play from the beginning to end in one shot, and if you got to that final boss and died, you were totally screwed. Now games hold your hand the whole way. I guess they don't want you to get frustrated.
Ninja Gaiden reminds me of what it was like playing old Nintendo games. Sure, there are save points, but there are sometimes many, many challenges between them. The bad guys keep getting harder and harder, but it forces you to really get good at the controls and the game mechanics, which are intuitive, responsive, and exquisitely fine-tuned. Once you finally beat the boss of each episode, you feel like you really accomplished something.
But my point is... well, the game is really hard. But I think that's what makes this game great.
The guys at Penny Arcade agree with me about the game being a bit difficult.