Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection – Review
Follow Genre: Action-Adventure
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: KOEI TECMO
Platform: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC
Tested on: Switch, PS4

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Still very relevant, amazing games
Bad: Sigma is not the original Ninja Gaiden
User Score
9.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Some games are just a total treat. They’ve been screaming for either a sequel or a remaster. Where popular franchises such as Crash Bandicoot or Spyro get complete remasters or remakes, other amazing series get less love. Ninja Gaiden is definitely one of those “forgotten” series. This is a shame because the original Xbox Classic game was simply amazing and well ahead of its time. Fun fact: The very first version (not Ninja Gaiden: Black or Ninja Gaiden: Sigma) actually got brought back to the store a lot cause it was too hard. No matter if you prefer that original version or the Sigma versions that are in the Master Collection though, Ninja Gaiden is finally back with a Master Collection! This collection includes the Sigma versions of Ninja Gaiden 1 & 2, as well as Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.

Story

Ninja Gaiden revolves around Ryu Hayabusa, a ninja from the Hayabusa clan. The first game starts with Ryu still being in training, but his skills are already very promising. Ryu’s clan is tasked with guarding the Dark Dragon Blade, an evil blade full of power. Later we will see Ryu becoming the legendary Dragon Ninja with his own (good) Dragon Sword, but all in due time. Despite the story often being epic in the Ninja Gaiden series, it can also make very little sense every now and then due to the over-the-top action and appearances in the game.

Arriving late to the scene, and seeing his village in ashes, Ryu encounters Doku, a ghastly fiend who wants to steal the Dark Dragon Blade. After a messy confrontation with this powerful enemy, Ryu hunts Doku down to exact his revenge upon him. From this point on, the Ninja Gaiden games pick up speed with a variety of absurd enemies, allies, and beautiful combat, leaving you with a cool cutscene after every level that weaves it all together. Ninja Gaiden 2 doubles the speed on all of this and brings you even more action. The only thing that stops all this epicness is that Ninja Gaiden 3 was so goddamned awful that it’s kind of a sore spot that blemishes this entire collection. Thankfully, there are also the other two games that make up for this.

Graphics

Team Ninja (Nioh, Dead or Alive) really knows how to make something flashy or bouncy with animations and gameplay, and Ninja Gaiden was well ahead of its time in this aspect. The in-game graphics and the cutscenes of this game were phenomenal, especially when you realize the first game came out for the first Xbox. Team Ninja succeeded back then in creating a unique style with a bit of gritty, flashy, high-tension action. This style is still working extremely well for the game, and it all got remastered in a way that respects these ‘old’ accomplishments. The game is simply polished with tighter graphics, but it’s still the same old, amazing-looking Ninja Gaiden. Visually, you never get bored with these games.

That being said, we also played the Nintendo Switch version and some modern graphics look like they are slightly too much to handle to be played in handheld mode. This was not because of performance issues, but because of rough edges. You can see this in the screenshots as well. In the first game, this was not an issue while playing, but in the second Sigma, it was also noticeable during the gameplay itself. On big screens, this is less of an issue.

Sound

Where you can discuss certain aspects of the original story, graphics, or gameplay compared to the Sigma editions, the sound is still awesome at least. The slashing and clashing of swords sound very satisfying with great effects for pretty much everything you do. Whatever voice-overs are present are familiar and well-crafted. The music can range from mystical to a combination of rave and traditional Japanese music. It’s all great, and there’s simply nothing to add to that.

Gameplay

The Ninja Gaiden games are action adventures. You run around, hack and slash with a variety of weapons on a diverse cast of enemies, and you try to not get hit in the process. The gameplay generally is incredibly smooth, though the camera could be a bit better judging by today’s standards. Especially aiming a bow from the first-person view feels a bit clunky. Also, running up walls feels a bit clumsy at times, making the entire control scheme a bit less intuitive. Other than these things though, the games still play great. Ninja Gaiden is generally challenging, and you can get better by simply playing more and more up to the point you start to actually feel like a ninja.

One of the cool things in these games is that you can collect, upgrade, and learn techniques for a variety of weapons. This includes nunchucks, your own katana, but also very heavy weapons that are unwieldy with tons of damage. The game features classic boss fights which require a careful analysis or a full pack of healing items at the very least. It’s a great adventure to embark on, despite the fact that you might have to get used to the difficulty every now and then. There are clever systems implemented such as enemies releasing “Ki” that can be yellow (currency), blue (health), or red (special powers refill), and you can actually also absorb these as you make yourself vulnerable for a second or two before you release a devastating attack. There’s some timing, some risk, and some reward with a high variety of weapons and items to play with.

The biggest question you should ask with the Master Collection is not if the (first two) games are still amazing, but if the Sigma versions were the right ones to include instead of the original version. Ninja Gaiden Sigma scrapped some of the puzzles and altered a few routes or cutscenes that were in the original. Instead, it gave you some weak extra missions with Rachel, a character that normally wasn’t playable. Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma altered some gore and “upgraded” this with flashy effects to downgrade some of it all, making it less graphic. Despite that this Master Collection still feels like coming home, opting for the original games would have truly made it a phenomenal collection.

Conclusion

Let’s make it abundantly clear, Ninja Gaiden is back. While it feels great to play such good games with updated graphics, the amazing sound, and the action adventures that hardcore gamers grew to love, we felt that a few things could be better. For one, Ninja Gaiden 3 is still as bad as it was, and the choice of including Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma instead of the original ones makes this feel less like a remaster. As a second, some slight tweaks to the controls would have been in place. Nonetheless, fans of the series or those who loved the originals will still very much enjoy this collection, even with the Sigma versions being the meaty part of the content.

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Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection - Review, 9.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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