Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection Review (PC)

Home»Game Guides»Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection Review (PC)

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection review 1
Our score: 8.5/10

The Ninja Gaiden Master Collection is the easiest and definitive way to get into the modern Ninja Gaiden trilogy, whether you are a long-time fan or if you are a first-time player of Ninja Gaiden.

Ninja Gaiden was originally a trilogy on the NES, but was later rebooted into another trilogy of games on the sixth and seventh generation of consoles. When we refer to the first, second, and third games herein, we are referring to the new trilogy of Ninja Gaiden games, not the original trilogy of NES games.

The mild annoyance is that these games have multiple versions with varying content on differing lines of consoles which can be very confusing to new-comers.

For example, the 2004 release of Ninja Gaiden, originally on the Xbox, was later released as Ninja Gaiden Black in 2005 on the Xbox, and then released again later as Ninja Gaiden Sigma in 2007 on the PS3 (and then Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus on the PS Vita in 2012).

These later iterations would generally have more content, such as new playable characters, new enemies added in, new challenge missions, graphical improvements, and more quality of life improvements.

The problem is that unless you owned the right console at the right time, you would have only played one or even none of the versions. If you owned only a Nintendo GameCube, you would not have been able to play any Ninja Gaiden games.

The Master Collection really simplifies everything by including the definitive versions of all three modern Ninja Gaiden games, including Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.

Although our review is based on the PC version, this collection is available for purchase on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One (and playable on the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S), including support for trophies on the PlayStation 4/5, and achievements on the Xbox One and Series X|S. All of the games in the collection ran flawlessly on our PC with no technical issues at all.

We were long-time players of the Ninja Gaiden trilogy and played the original releases on the Xbox and Xbox 360. Even though we were already familiar, it was worth playing through the collection to see the new content and the improvements. For instance, Rachel was originally a non-playable character in the first game, and in Sigma she has missions where you can play as her.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection review 4
It’s not just limited to ninjas! You can even play as a kunoichi!

If you are afraid of getting into the Ninja Gaiden series because of its difficulty, you should not worry about it. These re-released versions of the game have “Hero Mode”, which will allow you to auto-block when you’re attacked with low health. These new iterations also have an increased amount of save points.

Going to the original non-Sigma versions of the games on the Xbox or Xbox 360 would probably be very difficult, but these new versions of the games are extremely accommodating. Ninja Gaiden Sigma even has “Ninja Dog” mode, which allows you to get powerful equipment and free healing items if you die too many times.

As for the games themselves, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 1 and 2 are considered classics, whereas Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is generally considered a misstep.

The first game had a more fictional setting, mostly taking place in the Empire of Vigoor. The way the levels worked in the original was that it was an interconnected world taking place through chapters. By the end of the game you had access to portals to access older areas of the game, but certain chapters had missable content you could not return to get.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection review 6
The older Ninja Gaiden games have an emphasis on fantasy, with many demon enemies appearing.

The original was released at a similar time to the original God of War and Devil May Cry 3, but the main difference to its contemporaries is that you played as a ninja, so the combat has different nuances. It’s not hard to get into, but the gameplay is different. You would need to block more in Ninja Gaiden than in God of War, for instance.

Enemies can damage you very easily and you need to learn the combos of different weapons and combos for ninja techniques. Shurikens can be thrown to string together combos, and there is a wide variety of weapons you can use, from swords to kunai. You are able to upgrade your weapon in shops, as well as buy healing items and revival items.

This game is a bit on the older end, but in general it has aged well. With the improvements in its Sigma version it is very approachable. The story is tacked on, and focuses on Ninja Ryu getting vengeance on the fiends who burnt his village down. It is really the gameplay where this game really shines, but I respect the characters and world-building.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection review 3
You can play as Rachel in the Sigma versions of Ninja Gaiden, included in the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection

The second game in the modern trilogy is extremely accessible. It was originally released on the seventh generation of consoles, and you can immediately feel the increase of quality from the graphics and gameplay. Although the enemies have increased health in this game, it has dismembering mechanics to help instantly kill enemies after chopping off a limb.

Like the first game, you can buy upgrades and healing items to help if you are having difficulty. The world itself feels less fantasy and it feels inspired by real-world locations such as Venice. This is the easiest game to get into in this collection. The story is a bit cheesy like an old fighting movie, but it’s serviceable if you suspend your disbelief.

The third game is divisive for a few reasons. The original Ninja Gaiden 3 was very poorly received by critics, and the developers fixed many mechanics in its re-release, called Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. But the issue is that there was only so many mechanics they could have fixed. Going through this game again reminds us of why it was so poorly received in the first place.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection review 7

The bosses in the third game are really gimmicky compared to the amazing bosses from the first two games. The bosses in the third game certainly look great, but it is not so much fun to play. The shops in the first two games are replaced with a skill points system, where you get Karma points from defeating enemies over the course of the story and use them to buy upgrades to weapons, health, etc. The issue is that they would lock moves that were easily available in the original two games behind this point system.

The enemies are also very repetitive compared to how many enemy types there were in the previous two games. In the third game, you will always see a group of human enemies with knives and guns, and there will always be a human with a rocket launcher weapon somewhere in the background. This happens so many times and the combat gets repetitive very quickly. Enemies also grab you far too frequently, especially when compared to the older titles.

You really have to play the game in the way that it wants, otherwise you will get decimated and it does not feel as free as the older games where the combat felt so much more balanced. The story and atmosphere of the game are also completely different than the other two titles.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection review 2
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge tends to have a lot of machine boss fights instead of fiends

This game’s plot features more of a science-fiction oriented plot, think of Metal Gear Solid 4’s plot, but even more poorly done and unrealistic. You will see one plotline where a soldier in the United Nations punishes Ryu for doing espionage in other countries, and it was really difficult for us to suspend of disbelief.

Though all of the plots in the Ninja Gaiden games felt tacked on, this game was particularly egregious for having a drastically different plot instead of just a regular fantasy setting where you fight demons. The developers removed the ability to buy and use healing items, making the game less accommodating to newcomers, even with the Hero Mode difficulty.

Being able to use healing items was a nice crutch against a difficult boss you had trouble beating. Again, this is not anything new in our review, when this game was originally released it was a step in the wrong direction, and the developers did their best to remedy the situation.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection review 5
Fighting as a ninja in the middle east? It sounds great as a premise, but the repetitive enemy groups unfortunately holds Ninja Gaiden 3 back.

If you are not familiar with this trilogy, be prepared that the third game is generally not as good as the first two games, but the first two games in this trilogy pack more than makes up for it with some of the best combat gameplay in the series.

In the end, this is definitely the collection to get if you want to play Ninja Gaiden without fiddling around with old consoles such as the PS3 or PS Vita. Even if you’ve played them before, you can have the opportunity to play through them with trophies or achievements.

The games do not need to introduce more changes, since the Sigma and Razor’s Edge iterations of the games already introduced so many quality of life improvements already. If you enjoyed similar hack-and-slash titles, such as God of War, Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, then Ninja Gaiden would be right up your alley.

These Ninja Gaiden games hold up extremely well and it was extremely fun to re-experience the combat and lore. Be certain to install the day one patch to add more gore!

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection review 8

Leave a Comment