Reviews

Ninja Gaiden Master Collection

The Ninja Gaiden series has been famed for its complexity since the 8-bit era, and in 2004 it received a relaunch that brought Ryu Hayabusa’s harsh history into 3D. Dead or Alive’s father Tomonobu Itagaki and his studio Team NINJA were responsible for the revival of the classics…. The developers focused on a deep combat system and wrapped it in a kind of eclectic design, in which various traditional Japanese elements are combined with high technology, as well as muscular heroes and sexy heroines. It turned out to be a very difficult, but at the same time, an exciting game, where, with proper skill, you can beautifully crumble enemies with a variety of melee weapons. After the release of the sequel, Itagaki left the studio, and the third part was developed without him, and it was very different from its predecessors. By multiplying the gore and brutality of the original, Ninja Gaiden 3 has become much easier in terms of gameplay and received a lot of negative feedback from fans. Well, the first two are considered one of the best representatives of their genre (hack and slash).

Many years after the release of the third numbered Ninja Gaiden, Koei Tecmo decided to test the waters for the series’ return and announced Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection . It includes Ninja Gaiden Sigma , Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge . These versions of the games differ from the original releases in balance and some other nuances. We have tested this collection and now we will tell you everything about it.

The industry is structured in such a way that such re-releases are often the only way to play a particular game on a particular modern platform. Therefore, it is very important here not to spoil the original idea, although leaving everything as it was originally is also often not the best option, because visually games can get very old, which can alienate a new audience. Unlike the recent Mass Effect Legendary Edition, in Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection, Japanese specialists did not change anything. The image, of course, is rendered in 4K at 60 frames per second, and the textures and shadows are slightly improved in places, but the interface, special effects and some other elements look soapy and pixelated. the Nintendo Switch also has some issues with frame stutters now and then that luckily are much less on the big screen, but the image quality does look smudgy when playing in handheld.

But despite the outdated appearance of the first part, the combat sections are still capable of captivating. This is where those mechanics and features that the series are so famous for came into being. Unlike the more popular Devil May Cry franchise, fights here require increased attention to defense and tactical maneuvers in battle. The strategy of battles set by the authors became in many ways defining not only for the series, but also for some other games. Chopping overwhelming enemy forces is incredibly exciting – combat mechanics can even light up many modern action films.

Unfortunately, outside of the cool fights in Ninja Gaiden Sigma, there are not the best solutions. The most famous fact about the game is high difficulty, but this moment does not always imply smart opponents. The overestimated complexity of the first part is also associated with the system for saving progress, which is manually activated at special pillars. They are often not very conveniently arranged and are quite rare. At the same time, there is no saving between chapters, which can lead to unpleasant situations. For example, in the short eighth chapter, you can save approximately in the middle of your path, and then after a few fights get to the boss, defeat him and then move on to a new chapter. If you die there at the beginning, jumping on the platforms, then you will have to start from the previous chapter, where you need to run to the boss again, Fighting through simple enemies and watching screensavers that are not skipped immediately, but only after some time … Why the developers in the remaster did not save at least between levels is a mystery. But take note.

It should be noted that the difficulty of fights can be reduced by losing several times in a row. Then it will be possible to enable the simplified mode. If you do not know how to play such games at all, but really want, then in the Master Collection there is an opportunity to start passing in the Hero Mode. In this case, at a critical level of health, the main character will automatically block attacks and dodge enemy attacks for some time, and will also be able to use magical abilities without spending special energy.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, in contrast to the first game, seems more beautiful, responsive and smoother. The characters have grown in detail here, but the overall picture still seems outdated. Here, too, there are problems with anti-aliasing and pixelation, but not as obvious as in the first “Sigma”. As for the combat system, it has expanded with a huge arsenal of melee weapons – this has brought a pleasant variety to the deep and exciting gameplay. In addition, there is also a Hero Mode, and save points are placed much more often, which allows you to concentrate on the combat system. In general, everything is about the same as it was at the initial release. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is still one of the best games in its genre. 

I want to draw your attention to the fact that in the collection that was provided to us for review, there is no possibility of chopping off heads and limbs, which was in the original parts of Sigma on the PlayStation 3, however, the developers promise that in the patch of the first day this missing element will be added.

As for the plot, he has always been tied to the main character – the martial arts master and ninja Ryu Hayabusa. The story begins with enemies burning down his clan’s village and stealing a sacred sword. Naturally, Ryu is going to take revenge on everyone and return the stolen relic along the way. In the course of the story, he meets various sexy warriors who pursue similar goals with him. Some of them will be allowed to play.

In general, the history of the games in the Ninja Gaiden Sigma series is very simple and serves only as a motive for the player to have at least some explanation for the madness happening on the screen. At the same time, the plot can catch on with the eccentricity of the world, which combines various medieval oriental motives along with advanced technologies and magic. Here, literally in one shot, you can see traditional Japanese pagodas, hefty skyscrapers and a giant Buddha statue that walks through the city. Personally, it was not very interesting for me to follow the narrative as such, but watching the rampage of the writers’ fantasy is quite fun.

The first Ninja Gaiden, even after many years, are able to carry away for long hours. The developers should definitely put in more effort and redraw at least the interface, but even so they remain very cool action movies, the mechanics of which still seem relevant. On this I would like to finish, but, unfortunately, the collection also contains a third part, which was some kind of misunderstanding already at the start, and now an outdated appearance is added to this.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is an augmented and improved version of the triquel, but it still seems like a very boring and monotonous game with strange game design decisions. The thing is that the battles have been greatly simplified – many battles can be passed without much difficulty, simply by pressing the attack button and sometimes dodge. Of course, at this moment, a form of madness occurs on the screen and blood pours in a fountain, pouring everything around, and scraps of enemies scatter around the corners of the arena, but together with these places everything seems chaotic, which in the end quickly gets boring. Already at the very beginning, there is one of the most idiotic moments that I have ever observed in games. Smoke bombs are allowed into the arena, and in this white “milk” the main character runs, destroying opponents who fire at him from grenade launchers. Sounds epic but looks as stupid as possible.

And this is not the only such moment. A little later, in the third chapter, there is a section where you need to wander through absolutely dark caves. Who could come up with such a “bright” idea remains a mystery, but in the remaster these moments could have changed.

However, there is also an interesting solution in Ninja Gaiden 3 that the developers could develop in the sequel – the pumping system has become deeper and uses a skill tree consisting of cells, as is the case in some role-playing games. However, given the monotonous combat mechanics, this element in no way saves the triquel from the boring call of enemies. If you missed this part at one time, then I would not recommend buying the collection just to fill the gap.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is a collection that has two great games and another mediocre at best. Visually, everything seems outdated, even despite the increased screen resolution to 4K. The developers should have spent more time improving textures and 3D models, The Switch release also isn’t the best either. But otherwise the harsh gameplay and exciting battles of the first two games still feel great. And this is the only, but very good reason to purchase this set. If you are a fan of the series or just love good and thoughtful action movies with melee weapons, and the graphics are not at all important, we recommend that you pay attention to this release.

This is one remaster you’ll have to play for nostalgia reasons or to get in to the series, don’t expect much else off improvements across the board.

6.5/10

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