It’s been a long time since legendary ninja Ryu Hayabusa has graced our screens. The star of the Ninja Gaiden franchise has been missing in action since 2012’s Ninja Gaiden 3 as developer Team Ninja moved on to other franchises like Nioh. Fans have been clamoring for years for a new Ninja Gaiden game and while we’re still waiting for publisher Koei Tecmo and developer Team Ninja to deliver just that, they’ve delivered the next best thing in the meantime. Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection bundles all three Ninja Gaiden titles together so that an entirely new generation can see just how badass Ryu Hayabusa can be.
The Master Collection contains remastered versions of Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. Fans of these original games will notice that the first two games are the Sigma versions that released on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita and not the original versions that only released on the Xbox and Xbox 360. That’s probably because Microsoft had publishing rights to those but while the Sigma versions are a bit different, they are still really good. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, Ninja Gaiden is a third-person action game similar to games like Devil May Cry or God of War. Ninja Gaiden really made a name for itself due to it’s brutal and punishing difficulty so don’t expect to go into these and breeze through them.
All three games follow our main protagonist Ryu Hayabusa as he battles all sorts of demons and ninjas on his quest. Along the way he’ll be joined by some other female characters like Kasumi, Ayane, Rachel, and Momiji all of which are also fully playable characters in this collection. The story in these three games is fine but they aren’t the main reason why I played them back in the day. Some of the dialog and delivery can be a bit cheesy especially in 2021 but again, the gameplay is what’s important here and that aspect is superb.
While playing through all three of these games again I was impressed by just how well they mostly hold up even all these years later. Ninja Gaiden 2 is still my favorite as the first game does have some aging annoyances and the third game really made some questionable design decisions. All three games have seen a visual bump up to 4K if you are playing on the PlayStation 4 Pro or PlayStation 5 and they all run at a smooth 60FPS. Resolution isn’t everything though as things like textures and other elements do give away just how old these games are. The cutscenes also weren’t touched up so when they pop up the visual difference between them and the gameplay can be jarring.
Every stage in these three games is mostly linear but they do make it worth your time to go down every path and check every spot for hidden items. Chests and healing items will be in these spots and getting these will make your journey easier. Combat is fast and requires some good reflexes otherwise you’ll quickly find yourself dead. Knowing how to use more than just your weapons is important too as using the environment around you to wall-run and perform jump attacks can give you an edge. There is a variety of fun weapons to use in these games like the Dragon Sword and you also can cast magical Ninpo attacks like fire on your enemies. There are a ton of different combo attacks in the game and it can be daunting to try to master all the intricacies of combat but putting in that time to do so is very rewarding. The combat in the first game can be annoying at times though due to the camera positioning itself in really bad spots. This makes it very hard at times to see where enemy attacks are coming from and can result in cheap hits and deaths.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is the best one in this collection in my opinion because it offers more weapon variety, better level design, and more memorable boss fights than the others. Ninja Gaiden 3 is OK but my least favorite because the level design and environments were blander and it felt like the game just was throwing enemies at me constantly. The creator of the first two games didn’t work on that third one and that really shows up when you play it. Now while these games are tough, they do offer some difficulty settings including a new Hero Mode difficulty. This mode was made so that players can more easily make it through each game and for the most part I do think it will do that job after trying it. That said, you would be doing a disservice to yourself if you didn’t try to experience these games the way they were meant to be played but I’m glad it’s there as an option.
The only other bonus content you’ll get in this collection is the other female playable characters I mentioned earlier and a bunch of awesome looking customization items for all of them. What sadly didn’t make it into this collection is the online co-op content that was in the original releases and that was a bit disappointing. With all that said you are still getting dozens and dozens of hours of content here and considering this isn’t even a full price release it’s an even better deal. If you pay a bit extra for the Deluxe Edition you even get a pretty nice digital art book and the soundtracks for all three games.
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is a great package that any fan of action games will enjoy. Ryu Hayabusa still stands as one of the most memorable and bad ass video game protagonists even all these years later. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is the best one in this package in my opinion but all three are worth experiencing. Mastering the combat and Ryu’s moveset is so rewarding and you’ll easily get hours and hours of enjoyment out of this. Hopefully this collection will bring in plenty of new fans so that Team Ninja will give Ryu Hayabusa some new work soon.
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4 version reviewed on a PlayStation 5. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection$39.99
- Some of the best and most responsive action titles ever made
- Tons of weapons and moves that are rewarding to master
- Three games full of content to play through
- Still holds up visually and has rock-solid performance
- Hero Mode makes these games more accessible
- Camera can be annoying at times
- Online co-op was removed
- Some areas of the visuals show their age