Master ninja Ryu and his lady friends are back with facelifts in Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection – the ultimate package for any Ninja Gaiden fan.
It’s been a long time since I’ve played a Ninja Gaiden game, and thinking about it, it was Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus on the PS Vita that last had me chopping and hopping as master ninja Ryu Hayabusa, but it wasn’t the first time.
In fact, I’d played the very game years ago on the original Xbox as a spotty teenager – that’s how far back these games go. The original released in 2004, which is a disgusting 17 years ago and I feel mega old now. But I can vaguely remember some uncomfortable moments where my mother looked at the screen at the wrong time. Not because of the wanton violence, but because of the big ol’ boobies on the scantily clad Rachel. It wasn’t the worst thing my mum walked in on… But those words are for another website…
So, what’s all this ninja stuff about? Well, if you’re new to the games and want to start your mass-murdering somewhere, this collection is the best place to do it. You get three complete games with well over 50 hours of gameplay between them all, and they’re the best versions – the Sigma editions, or in the case of Ninja Gaiden 3, it’s Razor’s Edge. I’ll be straight with you – I’ve come nowhere near to completing them all as of the time of this review going out. I’ve played enough of each one to see that they work, they run great, and they look decent enough, all things considered – they are oldies, after all, and the original is pushing for retro status these days. It’s probably older than some of you readers.
I will be getting through them when I have more time on my hands because they are ridiculously silly fun. Mostly. Ninja Gaiden 3 is definitely still the weakest of the trio, even as the re-jigged Razor’s Edge version.
The games follow master super ninja Ryu Hayabusa through a series of ridiculous stories involving dragon swords, blood curses, dinosaurs, monsters, bad soldiers, ninjas and – yeah, you get the picture. They’re definitely strange and campy tales. In all honesty, I don’t much care for them. Who does? The reason we play these games is to have a good time slashing down hundreds and thousands of choppable enemies. I’ve gotten about halfway through each game at this point and I’ve definitely cut up a couple of thousand hapless henchmen to bits.
They had it coming and I don’t feel bad at all. Ludo narrative dissonance my arse. Ryu is a straight-up killer and no character development is going to make me think otherwise. Come the third game, I just assume that I’m playing as the bad guy because Ryu is such a dickhead, along with most of the pantomime cast. Something I told myself never to forget during Ninja Gaiden 3 was when one of Ryu’s earpiece allies says “I forget sometimes that you’re a ninja.” How the hell can you forget? It’s his defining character trait. This is the kind of crap writing you’ll find throughout the series, though the third game seemed to really go out of its way to be utter shite in that regard.
Returning ninjas will be instantly familiar with the games and despite the first and third releasing some eight years apart, there’s little difference in their core play systems, so bouncing around from one to the other is a doddle and I’m sure those muscle memories will be stirred up again once you’re back in Ryu’s world of magical murder.
I’ve enjoyed playing through all three games. I’ve been flicking between each one, alternating between completed levels just to make some progress in each. I definitely get more out of the first game than the third, but the second stands as my favourite of the bunch. The first has the nostalgia factor but Ninja Gaiden 2 refined what made the original so good. They’re adventures and they give you a little more to do than just chop and chase. The third game, though, really did screw the pooch as it took away any kind of freedom. Even now, I’m not that fond of it. It’s still a decent game, but it definitely feels out of place against the first two games. That’s just me, though…
The remastering is somewhat light, I have to say, so don’t go into these games expecting drastic changes. They’re still the same games but with a few tweaks. The biggest visual change is in the resolution – all three games play in full HD on base PS4, and up to 4K on PS4 Pro and PS5, and they generally look quite decent, if a little basic, by today’s standards. But, you must remember, these are old games with a bit of a clobber on, and I’d argue that’s all they really need. The original Ninja Gaiden still plays as well today as it did many years ago, and that’s why this series will be re-released again and again until they eventually get a proper remake. Until that time comes, we should all be happy that we can play through these silly power trips on our modern consoles. Even the crummy third game.
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection PS5, PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is the best way to play through Ryu’s blood-soaked, over-the-top adventures. New trophies, lots of content, and a modest visual upgrade make this a must-have package for hardcore Ninja Gaiden fans.
- Some of the meanest combat you’ll see in any game – and gory, too!
- The games still look good, even if they show their age
- More than enough content with three stories and each game’s extra modes
- It’s a shame about some of the online functionality not being available
- Some aspects have definitely not aged as well
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PS5, PS4 Pro.