Review | Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja’s bombastic bundle of games from their fan-favorite series, Ninja Gaiden. The collection comes included with three of their most marketable games and remastered versions of the originals, namely Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.
The collection comes included with additional costumes, 60fps support, multiple game modes, and DLC. These include the four additional playable characters Ayane, Rachel, Momoji, Kasumi, and their alternate costumes. The bundle also boasts adjusted difficulty in some parts, but also includes all difficulty modes. Original content, on the other hand, had no changes whatsoever. As a longtime fan of the series, I was glad to have the opportunity to play and critique the bundle. While I noticed some very glaring issues, I can honestly say I had fun playing the collection.
Because I’m not a lunatic, I started my playthrough with Ninja Gaiden Sigma. This is one of the few titles in the series I hadn’t played from start to finish, so getting to experience the story and gameplay with the best version available was a plus. The game begins our ninja protagonist Ryu Hayabusa’s journey. After being defeated by a mysterious samurai who rampaged his village, he goes on a quest for revenge. The first thing I noticed about the game was how crisp the visuals are compared to the original remaster. It also runs incredibly smooth.
As an advocate for fast-paced hack and slashers, I’m glad choppy frame rates and sluggish movements didn’t dull my experience. The buttons and attacks were highly responsive, and the load times were minimal. However, the game can still have some bugs here and there. Thanks to a day one patch, most of these issues should be resolved for those who pick up the game. Working mostly with a pre-release build during this review, I ran into a few issues. This included a lack of voice lines and some slight freezing during gameplay.
That said, I admittedly still had the most fun with Ninja Gaiden Sigma out of all three games. This is likely because it was a fresh narrative experience for me and because the gameplay was incredibly fun. It helped that it came with the inclusion of almost all DLC characters, modes, and outfits. Overall, I found the game fast, fun, responsive, and simplistic. Cutting down enemies with fluid moves and combos felt good, and defeating tough challenges and bosses felt even better.
For Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, the difference in image resolution is a lot more noticeable compared to its original counterpart. While the graphical fidelity had no change, the images are a lot sharper, especially when playing on more powerful hardware. Story-wise, Sigma 2 continues Ryu’s ninja saga. This time, the game follows his worldwide chase after the great demon statue stolen from the Hayabusa village by Elizébet, queen of the Greater Fiends. It’s worth noting that unlike the original, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 comes included with three new chapters starring the three extra playable characters: Ayane, Momiji, and Rachel.
The game runs smoother than the first, and replaying it reminds me of how unique the character models and background designs are compared to the original. However, while the game’s story is entertaining in its own right, I found it less engaging to play and see through to the end compared to Sigma. I admittedly had more fun messing around with the game’s challenge mode. Fighting waves of enemies of varying types, I was constantly trying my best to beat one high score after another.
Ning Gaiden 3 is perhaps my favorite entry in the series, but it’s also the one fans had many issues with due to a lackluster release. Thankfully, the folks at Team Ninja made sure to include the vastly superior version, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, for the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection. This version includes a lot more content by featuring all previous DLC released for the original game. All the additional characters, weapons, costumes, game modes, and other significant improvements make for a definitive experience.
Plot-wise, Ninja Gaiden 3 is the most straightforward installment in the bunch. Players reprise their role as the elite master ninja, Ryu Hayabusa. This time, his mission involves taking out a terrorist leader known as the “Regent of the Mask,” who ultimately puts a curse on Ryu in their first encounter. The rest of the game follows Ryu on his quest to defeat the regent and end his terrorist threat.
While the story isn’t as ambitious or convoluted as the second, its simplicity does an excellent job of making players focus more on the gameplay, which in Ninja Gaiden 3 is significantly more challenging. Non action game enthusiasts might have a difficult time trying to balance the game’s relentless swarm of varying enemy types. The enemy AI in the Ninja Gaiden series is aggressive, and this cannot be more true for Ninja Gaiden 3. That said, I still enjoyed my time replaying the game due to its variety of enemy types, especially the bosses and the overall challenge they provide. Combat was also balanced, as I thankfully did not encounter any technical difficulties.
When it comes down to it, Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is a serviceable bundle for single player action fans. While there are some minor changes, there’s no additional content. The multiplayer functionality from the original releases have also been entirely stripped out. Those who loved the Tag Missions in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and the Clan Battle in Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge might be a little disappointed. Regardless of the missing multiplayer, the collection is still arguably the best way to play these classics, especially if you own a high-end console. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Ryu Hayabusa’s grand adventures, this is the collection for you.
Final Score: 8 out of 10