NINJA GAIDEN is the epitome of a harsh and difficult game. From the lightning-quick swordplay to the endless horde of enemies that stops at nothing just to see you dead. It’s a game that is so revered by fans for its painstaking difficulty that as soon as you get to clash swords with hordes of ninjas and demons alike, you also subconsciously chant the curse words that would summon an angry mom from your living room. And with the Master Collection, you get to do that three times for the price of one.
Each of the three titles namely: NINJA GAIDEN Sigma, NINJA GAIDEN Sigma 2 and NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge offers you the chance of the lifetime to be the ultimate ninja or atleast die trying. These titles offer a somewhat nostalgic feel whether you’ve dabbled in its lore from its originals to the re-releases like the Sigma version or worse, the Sigma Plus versions for the Playstation Vita. However it’s a timeless classic that will forever be remembered as that one series that made fans plead for an easier difficulty. So enjoy these three epic titles from the series along with its high-speed action and the vigorous battles with some truly fearsome opponents and bosses.
But nostalgia aside, why should you care for the Master Collection that individually have seen countless iterations of the game already? For starters, latecomers to the series will get to enjoy the trilogy in one huge package without the need to tackle the games in older hardware like the Playstation 3, PS Vita or the various Xbox consoles. But more than that, the collection also offers a complete package of downloadable content with most of the previously released game modes and a handful of DLC costumes for each title included. From Ryu Hayabusa’s multiple outfits of destruction to each of the four playable female characters like Kasumi, Ayane, Rachel and Momiji’s set of garbs.
The trilogy will also be running @720p for the Switch while other platforms will run 1080p at 60fps although PC (with the right hardware requirements) and consoles like the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, Playstation 5 and Xbox Series S/X will be able to run the games at 4K 60fps.
Now if you’re a casual noob like I am, then this collection also has you covered with its Hero Mode difficulty for monkeys and dummies alike. Unfortunately, if you’re also one of the few people that wanted an easier difficulty then Hero Mode is not it. What it does, is it brings a handful of useful effects where if you reach a certain level of health, Hero Mode kicks in and makes you automatically guard incoming attacks for a set amount of time. This definitely helps the brutal difficulty of Sigma’s enemies like the early horse-mounted enemies and teleporting mages that had me screaming the summoning jutsus of my angered mom, but it also fails to give a more rewarding feel to encounters when the game puts you into an unkillable state that could potentially be abused as it can be triggered endlessly should you get an HP boost from a kill and dropping your health down again.
The series’ combat has always been a great platform to show off your moves or to see how fast someone stumbles. And the collection delivers that and more. The not-so-stealthy ninja badass that is Ryu Hayabusa, slays foes and dismembers demons alike in lightning-quick fashion using an arsenal of swords, ninpos and gadgets which is the very foundation of its core gameplay. Whether you’re slicing and dicing limb after limb with his trusty Dragon Sword or whacking demon heads with a staff, there’s never a dull moment thanks to the huge variety of equally brutal weapons at your disposal. Now if the huge pile of corpses doesn’t impress you, then the series won’t do you any good. Because just like the classic God of War series, NINJA GAIDEN offers the same brand of gore festivities in its core campaign albeit a lot more brutal and unforgiving.
Like previously mentioned, the titles do include some previously released game modes like Ninja Trials, Survival Mode, Chapter Challenge and Sigma 2’s Tag Missions that thrusts you as well as an AI-controlled partner against hordes of enemies found throughout the game. This offers great replayability as you tackle each segment with varying difficulties and a leaderboard to boot. This is easily one of my favorite game modes for its sheer replayability while also bringing something different to switch up the lone hack n’ slash drab.
What is a bit disappointing though is the game still looks a bit dated in some cases like NINJA GAIDEN Sigma with its janky lines and smooth yet lacking textures to the environment. The game definitely shows its age compared to its sequel Sigma 2 which is a bit more refined although all in all, that is a bit of a minor inconvenience when most of the game revolves around its action-based gameplay more than anything.
With a bit of a grip on murder and some nasty level of “massacre” NINJA GAIDEN Master Collection delivers a pretty good festivity on gore and high-speed combat that still has its own charm even if it does have its relentless level of difficulty that most players would find unfair and oppressive. Despite its age, the series has still managed to cement its mark in the hack n’ slash genre as something that is both fun and frustrating at the same time. However the trilogy is also not for the faint of heart unless you don’t mind swallowing your pride to do the game in the newly added Hero Mode difficulty.
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: KOEI TECMO
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC
This review is based on the PlayStation version of the game which can be purchased here for £32.99.
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