Ryu Hayabusa is a name that is engraved in the minds of two generations of gamers, the NES era for the brilliant and difficult platformer games and X Box to 360 era for the punishing and equally as brilliant action hack and slash titles. Ninja Gaiden the Master Ninja Collection collects the latter titles to remind everyone who the real Ninja Master is.
Ninja Gaiden the Master Ninja Collection compiles Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Sigma 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3 Razors Edge in a nice tidy little package. Long time fans of the series may be a little downhearted to notice it’s the Sigma versions of 1 and 2 rather than Black and the original 2 but unfortunately the source code for those versions are lost, no one will miss the original Ninja Gaiden 3 though.
On paper, newcomers and casual fans are getting a fantastic bang for their buck, Sigma 1 and 2 has extra characters in Rachel, Ayane and Momiji there are quite a few omissions which happened especially between Black and Sigma. First of all the unlockable classic Ninja Gaiden games are gone which is a massive shame, enemy count is much lower in Sigma 2 than the original version of 2. The online multiplayer from all titles is gone too due to cost and how much work to go into working it for all consoles.
On the flip side you have 3 fantastic action hack and slash titles playable on any current gaming platform again which range from perfection to slightly above average, a collection of fantastic artwork and music from the whole series and as much of the dlc as possible, different costumes for Ryu and friends spread across all of the games.
Ninja Gaiden Σ.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma starts off this collection and is the highest of high points for the series in general. This title sees Ryu striking out at the Vigoor Empire after an attack on his village, often remembered for its high level of entry as the level 1 boss, the game feels just as fresh now as it did when it was first released.
Often compared to Devil May Cry at the time, NG1 manages to play it differently with being punishing in points, relying more on different combos, reactions and staying cool. The levels are brilliantly varied and the range of foes it throws at you will never fail to surprise, even after all these years Ninja Gaiden still manages to keep its challenge fair and balanced.
Performance in this title is buttery smooth across the board for both docked and handheld, while some textures aren’t quite as detailed as others this was an issue that was born with the original release and all things considered this title is done justice with this re-release.
Often the most fondly remembered of the series and with good reason, it’s great to have this title running at 720p, 60fps most of the time in your hand or on the big screen and is enough to make a tear run down the cheek of any old ninjas face.
Ninja Gaiden Σ 2.
Ninja Gaiden 2 and Sigma 2 have always been a little rough, sadly extra work and a re-release here of Sigma 2 hasn’t fixed that much, in fact it may have exacerbated some of the issues sadly.
The narrative of the game is insane in the best way and sees our favourite Ninja travelling around the world, fighting monuments, slaying Lycans and generally upping the stakes with every level. It may not be Metal Gear Solid levels of writing but manages to entertain throughout.
Combat has more focus on a new mechanic called “Obliteration”, while fighting foes they have a tendency to lose limbs quite often, this puts them in quite a dangerous state and while a heavy attack finishes them off quickly they have a horrid tendency to slip through the net, grab you and take heck load of damage from you.
Performance takes a swan dive here from Sigma 1, first off the enemy count is much lower than the original 2, this was addressed by giving the smaller enemy counts more health, wouldn’t be an issue but the frame rate still isn’t the most stable, especially when there is alot going on such as multiple foes and effects like the bloom leaves falling and explosions going off.
Larger areas have random loading and that is a real pace killer and you can never quite tell when it’s going to happen, often causing a little heart skip thinking your game has crashed!.
Visuals are jagged, especially when the foes are far away and it just gives the game a much rougher look than that of Sigma 1, coupled with the performance issues and it feels more like a side step than a fully fledged sequel.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razors Edge.
Ninja Gaiden 3 was always a title that split fans, more so than the painfully missing Ninja Gaiden Z: Yaiba (Yeah I liked it!) Razors Edge was the plaster on the wound this title left and did a somewhat better job of being a Ninja Gaiden title.
Tonally, Gaiden 3 is way off the mark, Ryu now works for the Japanese government, has sidekicks to talk to him over the radio, sneaks around and takes down terrorists, it’s that weird gritty edge late PS3/360 titles tried to pull off and was weirdly political in the worst ways.
The game’s flow is often disturbed by talking sequences and even the odd stealth section, plus everyone’s favourite cutscene mechanic makes it debut here, the QTE!.
The blood flows freely with this game and is not only tied to the curse Ryu gets early on but takes over the charge attack mechanic from the previous two games, disarmed enemies are even more frequent and even more grabby here too.
The game isn’t a complete wreck though and honestly I still have a lot of fun with it, while clearly it’s been made by a different team it’s still a very playable character action game with some insane set pieces and the up in difficulty and additional weapons they added into Razors Edge make it a slightly grindhouse, slightly 80s action title that while not a timeless classic is still well worth playing through.
The game performance is slightly better than Sigma 2, visuals aren’t quite as rough and the frame rate a little more consistent. This is originally a WiiU title so I would assume that version was the base for this one, graphically it looks beautiful at times and bland in others but all in all a rather seamless and smooth experience in regards to performance.
It’s great to see how well these titles run at their best and hopefully a patch or two can iron out Gaiden 2 at its worst but as mentioned previously it’s never been a game that ran too smoothly.
Perfect for newcomers who make have discovered the genre through Bayonetta or Devil May Cry V, long time fans may struggle with the versions on display here with some cuts but the extra content and characters does help to soften that purist blow.
Hero Mode is a great addition for people who aren’t quite as resilient or well versed in this genre and the at times infuriating difficulty here but for those more masochistic you can still pick higher difficulties to give yourself a right rough time.
All in all its fantastic to get to playthrough these titles again, even if they range from legendary to slightly above average. The bonuses are good but it’s a shame there weren’t any extra additions in the games aside from DLC & on a personal note I really would have liked to see Yaiba!.
Even at its worst this is still a fantastic collection of ball breakers
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