14 Jun 2021
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Game review: Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection

By Damian Seeto

Before games like Nioh and Dark Souls became popular, the go-to action game for hack-n-slash fans were the Ninja Gaiden games. The first 3D style Ninja Gaiden game came out for the original Xbox console in 2004, and it’s still one of the best action games of all time. 

I remember both critics and gamers back in 2004 calling Ninja Gaiden as one of the more difficult games to finish in the PS2/Xbox era. While the game has a steep learning curve, it’s still great to play. Due to the popularity of the game, Ninja Gaiden 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3 were released in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

Sadly it’s now been nine years since the release of Ninja Gaiden 3 and a Ninja Gaiden 4 is nowhere in sight. However, some Ninja Gaiden fans can rejoice with the fact that they are to get Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection this year for PC and consoles. 

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection includes the entire trilogy, although it’s based on the PS Vita versions that came out a few years ago. The PS Vita version added some extra content that weren’t in the vanilla editions of the game. Another thing that PS Vita version added is a new Hero Mode that makes the game far easier for casual gamers. 

Bear in mind Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is a remaster in lieu of a remake. This means the gameplay has been relatively unchanged, although the visuals look a lot cleaner to satisfy more modern style TVs and gaming monitors. 

Graphically, the new collection does not look too different from the original games, although it does run at full 4K at 60fps on multiple different devices. The specs for the game are a bit lower though if you are playing on a base PS4 and Xbox One as well as the Nintendo Switch. 

While the graphics might not look all that impressive in 2021, the gameplay is where Ninja Gaiden games truly shine. The game isn’t as difficult as Nioh or Dark Souls, but the gameplay is fast and fluid throughout. Not to mention you will need a lot of skills in order to beat the many challenging bosses that stand in your way. 

The game that has the best gameplay in my opinion is Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. The game features a variety of enemy types and the bosses are challenging yet exciting to play through. Ninja Gaiden Sigma feels slightly older, but it too is still enjoyable. 

Probably the weakest entry in the trilogy is the latest game called Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. Instead of cool looking demons, most of the enemies in this game are boring human soldiers. Not to mention a ton of the soldiers love to spam rocket launchers in your face!

The gameplay and enemy types get really repetitive in the third Ninja Gaiden game. The game is also a little bit harder than the other two because you don’t have access to healing items as well. The only way to regain your health is by casting magic on your enemies. 

However, both Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 have something the original game doesn’t. In the latter two games, you can press down on the R3 button in order to see where you have to go to next. This option isn’t available in the first game as you have to resort to a map in order to know where your next location will be. 

In terms of all games, they are generous in terms of the number of weapons that you can wield. The Dragon Sword is the main weapon of choice, but main character Ryu Hayabusa also has access to nunchaku, scythe, bow and arrow plus many more. Using different weapons allows Ryu to do cooler combos and other sorts of damage to enemies. The bow and arrow is especially helpful when fighting flying enemies. 

Sadly, Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection does not add anything really new if you have played all of the other games before. That being said, you are getting the best versions of the game and those already had big bonuses such as newer levels and multiple different characters to play as. 

However, you don’t have to worry if you’re a casual gamer because the aforementioned Hero Mode makes things easier for you. In Hero Mode you are basically invulnerable and your attacks can get stronger the less health you have. There are even harder difficulty settings you can choose if you are a Ninja Gaiden veteran. 

Overall, Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection may not offer too many new features, but it’s a great way to play the series if you never touched them before. Hopefully developer Team Ninja will consider if Ninja Gaiden 4 if this collection sells well in the future.

Verdict: 8.0/10

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