Remastered releases can be a bit hit-and-miss, whether that’s because of a buggy port, the game not aging all that well, or, in some cases, the game not actually being all that good to begin with. Then there are some remastered releases that remind players of just how great the original game was to begin with. Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection falls into the latter category, with the collection offering two of the best 3D hack-and-slash adventures of their time… and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.
With Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden: Razor’s Edge all part of the package, there’s plenty of slicing-and-dicing, dismemberment-heavy ninja action for players to dive into. The remastered releases bring with them plenty of improvements to make each game feel at home in 2021 too, even IF they are guilty of showing signs of their age in some aspects of their design.
Check out a gallery of the game’s screenshots down below:
For those who haven’t played a 3D Ninja Gaiden game before, you can expect a tough-as-nails hack-and-slash experience that sees you battling an onslaught of enemies, all whilst utilising varied weapons and stringing together inch-perfect combos. The series has always been known for being difficult ever since its early NES days, with that carrying over to the modern releases. It never feels unfair though, but rather demands skill and patience from the player – protagonist Ryu Hayubusa is more than capable of taking on the challenge… you’ve just got to get your timings right.
That’s even more apparent in the series’ trademark boss battles, which each bring with them an unyielding showdown that’ll push your skills to their limit. They’re absolutely brilliant though, with the impressive looking enemies you face off against bringing with them a ferocious sense of presence that make the player feel like the odds are stacked against them before they’ve even begun. And the ones who don’t look all that frightening? They’re the ones who will beat you up the most (yes, I’m talking about you, Alma).
They’re the crowning jewel of each entry though, with Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection’s boss encounters proving to be the highlight of the series. They’re the moments that demand the most skill and perseverance, but demonstrate everything that each game has to offer through the slick combat mechanics and over-the-top fantastical nature of your foe. I love it.
“The series has always been known for being difficult ever since its early NES days, with that carrying over to the modern releases.”
Of course, the level design is top tier too, with plenty of enjoyable set pieces against enemies to overcome as you traverse each locale. Whilst the game is guilty of being linear in design, it brings plenty of different challenges the player’s way to ensure that there’s rarely a moment of respite – it’s just killing, killing, dying, and killing some more. It’s a good job too, because even the simplest of combat situations feel rewarding in the game. There’s a satisfying sense of speed and nuance to all of your actions, with simply mashing buttons never feeling as efficient as plotting out your combos and knowing when to strike. Whilst titles like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry 5 have fine-tuned the hack-and-slash formula, it’s clear to see that Ninja Gaiden was ahead of its time and had captured the excitement of melee combat perfectly back when the original iteration released in 2004.
It was Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 that really pushed the series forward though, with it offering more weapons, a more advanced move set for Ryu Hayabusa, as well as more refinements across the board when ironing out some rough edges. Don’t forget, the first game debuted on the original Xbox, so it shows more of its age when compared to its two successors.
“I had a whole lot of fun with Ninja Gaiden Master Collection, with the 4K resolution and consistent 60fps ensuring that it feels and looks as slick as ever to play.”
Whilst Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 are bloody brilliant though, the step down in quality is apparent with Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge from the get-go. You know what, I’m probably being a little harsh, because Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is NOT a bad game. It’s just not as good as its predecessors, with it bringing with it a shift of tone that felt a little out of place. The nuance found in the combat in the other games just isn’t as strong, with it instead feeling like you’re facing off against waves of enemies, moving between areas, and repeating. It did strengthen the series in some ways, especially with its improved upgrade system, but it just lacked that special *something* that made the first two games so much fun to play. It is undoubtedly the most violent of the three games though, so it has that going for it…
I had a whole lot of fun with Ninja Gaiden Master Collection so far, with the 4K resolution and consistent 60fps ensuring that it feels and looks as slick as ever to play. As expected, it can show its age in some places thanks to some older textures that haven’t seen an improvement, but it’s still the best that the series has ever looked. Add to that all of the blood and gore of the dismemberments and it’s easy to see that it’s SUPER violent too, so yeah, you’re going to feel just like a ninja. What more could you want? It’s also more accessible thanks to the refined difficulty options, so it doesn’t have to be so hard if you don’t want it to be. Purists would ALWAYS say to play it as it’s intended, but I wouldn’t hold it against anyone who just wanted to enjoy the stellar action of the game with a bit less stress.
“It’s just a really good collection of remastered releases that doesn’t go overboard with the improvements, but does enough to make the games feel like they belong on current-gen consoles.”
Whilst the games bring with them some top-quality adventures that’ll really hook players in, there are some aspects of their design that can feel a bit dated. The camera can be sketchy on occasions for example, with it sometimes not capturing all of the action perfectly. This is most apparent when you’re fighting multiple enemies, with some seemingly out of view but easily catching players off-guard with what feel like unfair attacks.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma could feel especially dated in places given that it’s the oldest of the bunch, whilst some players might be annoyed that it’s the Sigma version of the game and not the popular Black. It’s the same case with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, with some players unhappy that the games aren’t featured in their original (and in many ways rawer) iterations.
You know what, though? They’ve all been a blast for me to play. I’ve finished the first two titles in the collection and had one hell of a good time, with each certainly standing the test of time and feeling as good to play now as they did when they first released. And hey, I’m half-way through Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge and even enjoying that, even IF it isn’t near as good as the first two titles. It’s just a really good collection of remastered releases that doesn’t go overboard with the improvements, but does enough to make the games feel like they belong on current-gen consoles. And hey, they bring with them all previously released DLC too, so you’re definitely getting plenty of bang for your buck with all of the extra costumes and weapons you’ll get to use.
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection offers a selection of games that still feel spectacular to play today thanks to their brutal hack-and-slash action. With the satisfyingly fast-paced combat, the frantic boss encounters, and some slick level design, there’s plenty on offer in Ryu Hayabusa’s ultra-violent adventures to keep wannabe ninjas hooked in until the very end – even if the camera angles are a bit sketchy here and there.
And hey, even Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge might not be as bad as you remember. It’s not great, sure, but it’s still fun to play and compliments the sheer brilliance of the first two titles.
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Click here to visit the official website.