Ninja Gaiden 3 launched on 360 and PS3 several months ago to cries of shocked disappointment from fans and critics alike. The series had been known for its insanely deep and challenging gameplay, offering a plethora of ways to brutally slay your progressively more lethal foes, but the latest entry had too few weapon, toned down violence, and the baddies presented little challenge. However, the updated version coming to Wii U appears to be rectifying this mistake.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is shocking in many ways; it effectively equates to a developer admitting they were wrong, it isn’t the type of title that usual comes out on Nintendo hardware, and Nintendo has actually taken over publishing duties. Once you get over the shock and delve into the game you find what appears to be the game Ninja Gaiden 3 should have always been.
This franchise has always been about intense action with a little bit of platforming thrown in and the E3 demo offers a great little slice of exactly that. Right from the start you are assaulted by a small army featuring enemy ninjas, plenty of basic grunts, and even a few baddies with rocket launchers. Alternating between light and heavy attacks unleashes a furious ballet of blood and limbs, ultimately settling into a gruesome rhythm as main character Ryu thrusts his blade into foe after foe with a forceful and deliberate effort accompanied by the sound of gushing blood and shattering bone. I can’t ever recall another game to make such an effort to communicate the merciless brutality it takes to sever another human being’s limb.
Playing the same old song of sword based sadism could grow old so the demo also presents opportunities to experiment with some of the other tools available to Ryu. Magic, known as Ninpo, is perfect for clearing crowds, bows and shuriken are necessary for taking out the rocket guys perched above the melee, and two more weapons, dual swords and a giant scythe, present drastically different play styles than the standard sword. The demo definitely presents plenty of options but Nintendo promises that the final product will feature more of everything, which should definitely fix the limited options in the original.
As for the difficulty issue, I think my experience with the last portion of the demo is pretty solid evidence that things will be much tougher this time around. The last area was an onslaught – wave after wave of all the aforementioned enemies, topped of by a final group on new, magic infused foes that can drain a third of your health bar in one blow. I consider myself an above average gamer and it took me multiple attempts to even reach the last wave, and even then I was unable to best them before my time with the game ran out.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge so far looks like it will be a thoroughly modern action game with complex gameplay and plenty of challenge. Visually it looks pretty good and the gameplay doesn’t really present anything new, so one could complain it doesn’t sufficiently take advantage of what Wii U has to offer, but maybe that’s okay. At the very least, Ninja Gaiden 3 could excite plenty of core gamers and developers who are afraid that Wii U can’t deliver the straightforward experience some prefer.