There's definitely something to be said for questing in a video game. You know, not getting wrapped up in a story and instead just taking quests to farm experience points and resources. But for that to be exciting, the gameplay has to be engaging and the rewards worthwhile. Neither of those things describe Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen, and that's why it fails.
The sequel to a game that never came out in North America, Shinobido 2 casts us as Zen, a ninja with a sick Harry Potter-esque lightning bolt over his left eye. Zen's an assassin out for the truth about his girlfriend's death, but that story really isn't all that important. (Or at least I hope it isn't because it's poorly explained and terribly acted.)
There are multiple clans in Shinobido 2, and they're all fighting one another. The way they do this is by hiring Zen to assassinate, kidnap, and steal from the other factions. Over and over. It's like you're the only ninja for hire in the area. You'll take a mission, kill a merchant who works for Ichijo's clan, and then Ichijo will hire you in the very next outing as if you didn't just screw him over. It's completely nonsensical, but your actions in each outing affect the relationships with each group, which is cool in concept but totally screwball when you think about it.
All this plays out through some lackluster third-person stealth action. I could crouch to approach enemies, but being un-stealthy really didn't seem to matter. I knocked over wooden planks and ran up behind enemies without them hearing me. When I was discovered -- usually by the touchy jump button launching me directly in front of foes -- the hit or miss lock-on system and button-mashing moves made sure I regretted missing the one-hit stealth kills. There's a grappling hook, but it's clumsily aimed with the Vita's rear touchpad (or awkward autopilot if you turn touch control off).
There are nifty slow-motion moves you can earn and deploy with the touchscreen as well as a satisfaction in S-ranking a level by silently obliterating every enemy, but those moments of gratification don't make me recommend this game.
And that's all there is to Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen. You collect healing items and weapons as you play, level up as you finish missions, and earn the ability to switch characters, but the core experience doesn't change. You get a list of missions, choose one, and go. When it's done, you do it all over. Once in a while there's a story mission that gives you a voiced cutscene but otherwise the waxes and wanes of your faction relationships are debriefed via text.
The browns of the environments muddy up the Vita's screen with every house or Cliffside being blocky. Making these visual miscues worse is that different missions have you redeploying to the same maps. Hell, every early assassination mission has you killing the same fat merchant over and over again -- although the faction he's working for does change.
Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen is just a bunch of poorly controlled quests weaved together with a very thin story. If it was only a few bucks, it would be a decent distraction for people looking to be ninjas on the go, but as a full price PlayStation Vita, I can't recommend it. The desire to quest in Shinobido 2 is washed away by its numerous flaws.