Nine months ago, Ninja Gaiden 3 was released to the masses for consumption for the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. When it launched, many players voiced complaints that the game was severely lacking content, to the detriment of game-play and one’s enjoyment. The violence was toned down, the AI was made way to easy to deal with, and the game had a minimal selection of weaponry, the karma system was also missing. This Wii U launch re-visioning sought to remedy of these issues. Read on to find out if it delivered.
The Wii U version restores the karma system, two new weapons, new enemy types, challenges areas, an online mode, and the games fixes the AI to make for a more challenging game. There are also new controls using the touch-pad for easy access to Ninpo, weapon selection, skill system and Ninja Sense, which is a mechanic that points your character on the right path. There is even a control scheme that lets you play the game with the touch-pad in a manner similar to Dragon Sword for the DS. All in all it’s a vast improvement to the original release, which seemed like a beta version of the game that was put out to market to satisfy Tecmo-Koei’s shareholders, but having the gall to charge $60 USD for it.
The plot is about Ryu fighting a mysterious army that seeks to destroy the world to have it reborn in their image with an all new species to replace humanity: Resurrections of god, simple stuff. The game also ham-fistedly tries to humanize Ryu by guilt tripping him with all the killing that he has done over the years, accented by a point in the game’s plot where a masked man curses his right arm with the Grip of Death, which also plays into the game-play, where it replaces Ryu’s Ultimate Technique, where you can charge up your attack when Ryu glows red after killing a certain number of enemies in a row to unleash a powerful assault against his foes. The ending is also pretty weak, but this game is all about the game-play.
Gameplay is visceral hack and slash action game, where you can perform combos using light and heavy attacks, in addition to throwing shuriken, which are used to stun your enemies, and wielding a bow to shoot arrows at far and otherwise inaccessible targets. The Bow gets an upgrade later on to connect to two target at once in addition to becoming explosive, doing more damage. The reintroduction of Karma allows you to purchase skills, moves, increased health, and even costumes. The game’s ten chapters also contain the eight chapters from the original title, as well as two new chapters where you can play as Ayane from the Dead or Alive series, who plays like a suped up Ryu, but has very challenging boss fights to offset her amazing combat skills. These chapters also have hidden golden scarabs that unlock more items in the skill menu as well as two weapons, the Lunar Staff, and the Kusari-gama. In addition Ryu can also use claws, Dual Katanas, and a Scythe. Much of the DLC that was in the original is now unlocked via these gold scarabs, so be sure to look in the levels thoroughly! In addition, there are crystal skulls that are hidden that when activated transport Ryu to an arena to see how long you can last before failing, with a hard boss at the end from a previous game in the series. Whether you complete them or not, they are good places to gain karma.
Some negative issues with the game are it’s sometimes erratic camera and it’s somewhat inconsistent difficulty, as well as the climbing portions, which were quick time events using the analog sticks (should had used the face buttons instead). The game also offers three difficulties, with a fourth opening after completion of the game. Hero mode is for casual people that have difficulty playing action games and it performs auto guard when your character is attacked. Also After completion, a Chapter Challenge mode unlocks, allowing you to collect any missing scarabs or crystal skulls you missed, or gaining karma to unlock all of the game’s items. Or you could just improve your level rankings.
As for the Online play, there are survival modes, competitive and cooperative play modes. The Ninja Trials are like a horde mode of sorts where you can level up your character to gain karma and use it to buy perks to use in competitive play. Cooperative play modes are similar but they also might have unique challenges. Competitive mode is death-match. There are no achievements but there leader-boards for level and online rankings.
All in all, Ninja Gaiden 3:Razor’s Edge is a much richer and more challenging and fulfilling experience than its other HD counterparts, but rumor has it that a new version of those will be forthcoming, presumably with most of the Wii U version’s content and perhaps a bit more. Definitely worth a purchase for the action game fan with a hardcore mindset.