Ninja Gaiden Master Collection – PS4

With another challenging From Software game on the horizon, now is the perfect time to brush up on those reflexes and play a demanding game. Ninja Gaiden Master Collection includes Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, Ninja Gaiden 3 – Razor’s Edge and the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection Digital Artbook & Soundtrack app. There’s a lot to unpack here and with these previously Xbox360 / PS3 games making the jump to PS4 / Xbox1 / PC and Switch it’s a good time to dress in black and slice through more enemies than a musou game.

Unlike an Atelier trilogy you can’t buy an individual Ninja Gaiden game separately so it makes more sense to look at the whole package. Which is the best, what’s the worst and is the collection as a whole worth your money? Suddenly a realisation dawns on me that this collection will be considered Retro in a few years. Lets step back into the mentality of a 2004 Team Ninja as we start with the game that started it all…

NINJA GAIDEN Σ

The original Ninja Gaiden back on the Xbox was notoriously too hard for some people, a few reviewers infamously couldn’t beat the first boss. After 3 revisions (Black, Sigma and Sigma Plus) we now have a port to modern consoles that has seen a subtle shift to pushing that infamous difficulty down a little. It’s still incredibly well paced, packed with unique ideas for level design and a fast combat system where even a few rogue ninja can chop your health bar right the way down. Regardless of the ridiculous story and the ridiculous character designs that Team Ninja are more than a little known for now, you can see a lot of the best ideas and creativity at play in Ninja Gaiden Sigma. It’s really nails the feeling that you’re a deadly ninja and one slip and you’ll be as dead as the foes you left along the way.

Rachel wearing ‘demon slaying armour’ there

Despite the cheesecake being in full force, Ninja Gaiden has this classic action B-Film feel throughout. It still has rock solid gameplay to keep it going throughout with a focus on balancing resources and punishing combat. There’s a lot of extras to the game with mission mode, various weapons and unlockables. It’s still challenging to this day but in a fair way and the easy mode difficulty is there if balancing minimal recovery items and offense gets too much of a headache. The big challenging bosses, the introduction of moves, wallrunning platforming and bloody visceral combat manages to make the experience still hold up strong.

8/10 – A den of ‘Ninja Guy’ original moments

NINJA GAIDEN Σ2

For better and worse Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is pure Ninja Team. Within 5 minutes of the cinematic intro you’ll see a very Rachel-looking Sonia wrapped in chains, the ripped Ryu, covered in the blood of his enemies will free her and go on to murder a ludicrous number of ninja in stylish ways. The cheesecake thankfully takes a backseat quickly and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 becomes the best of the bunch so quickly it’s staggering. A hybrid of Devil May Cry fluidity with the original punishing Ninja Gaiden combat gives Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 this fantastically fast and brutal edge to it. Chaining a combo and holding a button for just a second before the enemy strikes never gets old. Powerful hits are the DOOM punches of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.

As with Ninja Gaiden Sigma there’s a lot of extra content here aside from the enjoyable story mode. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is a lot easier at normal mode but the easier difficulty will only really appeal when you come across a particularly challenging demon-statue boss. For the hardcore fans there are multiple harder difficulty modes, mission modes and an additional co-op tag mode. It’s impressive how many stages and areas look amazing and have aged incredibly well. You’ll be running along walls looking over a cityscape and it feels like a PS4 game. It’s fast paced, action packed and has enough flair to get away with the occasional eye roll.

8/10 – A den of bonkers brilliant messy action

NINJA GAIDEN 3 – Razor’s Edge

Closing out the trilogy and now in its final form, Ninja Gaiden 3 – Razor’s Edge is unfortunately the weakest entry in the series (It’s also one I’ve always associated with the WiiU?) The same ridiculous action and cheesecake is on show but the abilities and weapons are unlocked painfully slowly. Ninja Gaiden 3 – Razor’s Edge also relies incredibly heavily on explosives, almost everything explodes and when you’re just starting to get into the combat that feels like a stripped down version you’ll have to deal with multiple rocket launcher enemies out of reach. You’ll be constantly tasked with aimed arrow shots while everything explodes around you.

There are some stand out moments to be had and the set pieces are when the game shines. The setting of various locations around the world does add a small amount of spice to the proceedings but the battles boil down to avoiding all the floor enemies, sniping the rockets and back to slicing at spongy enemies. You’ll be ambushed regularly by explosives you couldn’t have avoided and the difficulty isn’t the same as 1 or 2, when you die in 3 it’s likely because an offscreen enemy fired a cluster of rockets at you. Everything starts to pick up when you play as Ayane but even her fancy moves lose their flair after the 15th time in a row. Ninja Gaiden 3 really is the disappointment of the trilogy, the Terminator 3 of the series.

6/10 – A den of grindy difficulty

Ninja Gaiden Master Collection

As with the Atelier collections on PS4 the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection includes an app on PS4 for a short art book and soundtrack. There is an interesting selection of artwork to be seen here and some concept art that’s nice but as you can’t take screenshots it’s a glorified DVD extra. All 3 games soundtracks are present but unless you fancy leaving the app running while doing other tasks it’s a fancy addition that you’re not buying the collection for. Only hardcore fans will find anything of value there and these really do feel trivial.

Ninja Gaiden Master Collection is a great collection of 2 great games. Razer’s Edge really stands out as unnecessary as the quality of the Sigma games is fantastic and holds up surprisingly well to this day. That cutting difficulty where failure is because of your lapse in concentration and an action packed smorgasbord of blood and violence that is one of a kind. It’s a shame the collection misses out on the original older titles or Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z but with Ninja Gaiden Σ & 2 it’s essentially the best and easiest way to enjoy two classic games.

8/10 – Plenty of Nin left in this Ja

Code provided by Koei Tecmo Europe Ltd. Check out their games here

*The below gameplay footage is rated 18 just to be on the safe side*

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