What do you think of when the name “Ninja Gaiden” pops into your head? If you’re anything like me, you immediately shudder and cringe in fear as you remember your various bouts with the reboot on the original Xbox some years ago. You remember getting stomped into the ground by the frustratingly difficult AI, and you probably remember raging like a madman at the thought of taking a boss down to a sliver of his life, only to have him unleash a deadly volley of attacks that killed you far more quickly than you ever anticipated. Ninja Gaiden is a series that debuted on NES, and has, for the most part, always been hard as nails. The difficulty level has actually become a hallmark of the series, and one that gamers have mostly come to expect, and even enjoy– especially those who are gluttons for punishment.
It’s one of those series that has mostly always impressed with each iteration it releases, particularly since making its way into the realm of polygonal gaming. As mentioned, Ninja Gaiden on Xbox was a stellar revitalization, and the follow-up was equally as solid. Though these are games that will push your patience to the limit, they are more than just that. Ninja Gaiden is absurdly over-the-top, and its protagonist, Ryu Hyabusa, plays the part of silent badass very well. In fact, he’s part of the why the franchise is so successful.
Ryu rivals that of Raiden from Metal Gear Solid in the area of lopping off more extremities than you can shake a stick at, and I’d hardly be doing the game justice by saying these titles are outrageously bloody. In fact, they’re so gory that it borders on being obnoxious and/or offensive. Regardless, people– myself shamefully included– love it. Much like the noted difficulty, this high octane slicing and dicing is bloody good fun– pun intended. Better yet, the actual combat mechanics of most previous Ninja Gaiden games have felt really tight and responsive, which has only enhanced and made the sword play all the more fulfilling.
The lack of blood and gory dismemberment disappointed many Ninja Gaiden 3 fans, but Razor’s Edge for Wii U is putting it all back in again!
Needless to say, there’s a lot to love about this series, and when Ninja Gaiden 3 was originally announced, fans were frothing at the thought of once again stepping into the shoes of the Dragon Sword-wielding death-dealer and dissecting countless ruffians in the most grotesque ways possible. But its release was met with a fairly harsh reception from both fans and critics. A bad camera, lackluster AI, inconsistent narrative, poor control mechanics, repetitive boss battles, no dismemberment, and a serious lack of challenge meant Ninja Gaiden 3 was, for lack of a better word, trash.
But then, there was a glimmer of hope. Team Ninja let the cat out of the bag when it unveiled its plans to revamp and re-release Ninja Gaiden 3 on Wii U under the subtitle, Razor’s Edge. The producers stated this revision of the game would deliver on the team’s initial promises, mentioning they had listened to fans’ feedback and, as a result, planned to make Razor’s Edge the definitive version of the game– the version they intended to make all along.
So what has changed and why should you care? Well, for starters cleaving limbs is wholly back in the game, allowing for players to amputate to their heart’s content. Moreover, the game’s story is entirely new, therefore giving hope to those who actually follow the series’ outrageous lore. Gameplay mechanics have also been overhauled, meaning the battling system has been fully reworked to include whole host of new moves, weapons, and a snazzy character progression system. To top it off, everyone’s favorite ninjette (I just made that word up) Ayane will make a return to the franchise by acting as a second playable character, complete with her own story missions. For those wanting an online experience, you’ll get that too, as online co-op will be just one of the many new modes to which players will be treated.
Ayane may be more familiar to fans of Dead or Alive, but she’s also made several appearances in the Ninja Gaiden series over the years, too.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge looks to improve upon the original game in nearly every possible way. In all honesty, this is the game Team Ninja should have put out in the first place, but the fact is they didn’t. If you were disappointed in their first attempt with this third installment, there looks to be enough new to rein you back in. For those who held out, but are interested in playing the title, this seems like the perfect opportunity. My hope is that Razor’s Edge is as good as it sounds. All of the new features and rebuilt game mechanics mean Team Ninja could certainly redeem itself. When you factor that in with the GamePad’s functionality, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge has all the right ingredients to be a bloody great launch title.