Ninja Gaiden 3, the first in the series since the departure of Team Ninja’s perpetually-sunglassed Tomonobu Itagaki, has been re-released for Nintendo’s Wii U. This is not the game that was so bloody awful that it very nearly turned Darryn in to a homicidal maniac. It’s been entirely re-tooled and is now just bloody.
In Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, you play as Ryu Hayabusa, a master Ninja, descended from an dragon who must save the world from a megalomaniac intent on destr…Yeah, let’s face it – the story is essentially awful, clichéd and entirely forgettable. The narrative, such as it is, features a magical masked antagonist trying to resurrect a giant goddess, double-crossing, zombies, the military, and yes, let’s not forget an evil T-Rex. It’s quite patently ridiculous but that hardly matters, because Razor’s Edge makes up for it where it matters most; the gameplay.
Sexy Ninja Ryu Hayabusa gleefully slices and slashes his way from foe-to-foe, like a delightfully choreographed ballet of death, using a number of traditional , and not-so-traditional weapons; swords, staves, scythes and pointy claws; all with karma point-based tiered upgrades that harks back to 2004’s Ninja Gaiden. That’s a good thing. The one weapon you won’t be seeing too much of in this incarnation is Ryu’s infamous Dragon Sword – because for some or other reason it’s been embedded deep within his arm, cursed with the sins of his years of wanton bloodshed.
I told you, the story is hokey.
The karma system now includes a multiplier that increases the longer you chain attacks without any special attacks. this increases the Karma you earn, allowing you to spend it all on upgrades; new techniques, weapon proficiency, new suits and Ninpo.
Unlike with the original release of the game though which was tailored to be more welcoming to newcomers, this revisionist take on Ninja Gaiden 3 won’t have you able to execute this bladed ballet just by mashing your way across the face buttons – because this time around, the game is really difficult – just the way a ninja Gaiden game should be. It’s all about timing; knowing when to block, when to counter attack, and when to get the hell out of dodge. The Ninja Gaiden games have always had a steep learning curve – but here it’s a little uneven and erratic; it’ll ramp up to being beyond frustrating, and then moments later seem like a rather gruesome walk in the park.
If you’re a giant sissy, terrible at games or just want to scratch your chin (or your unmentionables) through the hackneyed story there is a hero mode which essentially makes it impossible to die but makes up for that by lowering your karma multiplier. And then, if you’re a masochist finishing the game unlocks “Master ninja” difficulty which will have even the most patient and proficient gamers pulling out their hair.
Tecmo has, in short, fixed just about everything that made Ninja Gaiden 3 a terrible experience. Well, nearly everything. The camera is frankly awful; it automatically flips around in combat, trying to target the closest enemy and keep the bulk of your enemies in view. This not only has the habit of having you unleash a flurry of attacks on an off-screen enemy, leaving you using the wrong attacks for his type, and ruining your gloriously long combo chains.
For everything Tecmo’s taken away – that is to say, all of the bad bits – they’ve also gone and added a little more meat to the campaign, with two intertwined missions featuring Dead or Alive’s purple-haired, large-breasted and presumably sore-backed Ayane. She’s far quicker than Ryu, able to slice foes in to itty-little-bloody-gibs in no time and she’s much easier on the eye – though I must say her two missions feel a little bit like filler, but also provide a welcome break from Ryu’s quest.
The game doesn’t do much to make use of the Gamepad though. You can use it to play off-TV which is always a welcome feature, as well as show a list of moves and make your upgrade selections via touch – but that’s really about it. It’s been optimised instead for use with the more traditional Wii U Controller Pro
Multiplayer still exists, and is largely the same as in the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions. Players level up their faceless ninjas and slice their way through challenge areas in co-op or clan-based PvP battles.
Despite the inconsistent difficulty and the terrible camera, it’s still a vastly superior game to the original release – by a long, long way. It’s infinitely more fun to play, looks and runs better and features buckets upon buckets more blood and gore.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge was reviewed by Geoffrey Tim on a Wii U