Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge made its debut on Wii U in the US on 18th November 2012. Not counting series spin-off Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, it’s now been 10 years since we saw a new title in the Ninja Gaiden franchise. Last year’s Ninja Gaiden Master Collection offered a taste of what could be done on modern hardware. But it’s still a far cry from the elusive Ninja Gaiden 4.
After the initial launch on Wii U, the expectation was that Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge would arrive on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in better form. This was a valid assumption. Ninja Gaiden 3 took a critical pounding upon its original launch – some of which was fair, but most was unfounded – yet Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge’s Wii U release was spared from much of the harsh tongue lashing. Could a nip-n’-tuck really make that much of a difference?
Of course, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 wasn’t the same Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge we saw on Wii U. The added months of development allowed Team NINJA to apply an even more sugary coating to the bones of Ninja Gaiden 3 in an obvious attempt to entice fans to buy the videogame for a second time. And it worked. Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge was every bit the Ninja Gaiden experience fans are hoping for. And one that newcomers quickly warmed to.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge Brought Kasumi to the Battle
Jumping straight in at the deep end, Dead or Alive‘s Kasumi is a thrill to play as. Her svelte movements between defensive stances and devastating blows are unmatched by any other character, bringing a brand new moveset to the world of Ninja Gaiden. Thus, making an impact that was felt by fans in a significant and meaningful way. It’s a shame then, that Team NINJA chose to hide her behind an unlock wall that demands a time-heavy investment. This would mean that many of the more casual players would never reach her.
Upping the Difficulty
Ninja Gaiden 3 was criticised for removing the steep learning curve of it’s predecessors. The original title was essentially the Elden Ring of its day. However, this remixed release addressed that concern. And then some.
Even on it’s lowest difficulty players will be taxed to plan and execute the huge variety of moves and combos. Players will be cast as Ryu Hayabusa in the first instance. And his moveset presents a refined Ninja Gaiden 3 as opposed to a true second edition. Typically in these cases, the developer will open up a lot of the first releases’ hidden aspects to allow those who may have already completed the game to get straight into the fresh meat. Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge however, insists that you can’t. You play through the game in its entirety again. Perhaps Team NINJA were so confident of this new build that they believed players would want a learning curve forced upon them. If nothing else it results in greater experimentation with the new weapons.
All the DLC – and that’s a lot
Ninja Gaiden 3 felt light on weaponry after both Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden II had a full compliment. Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge however, has no such problems. Claws, staff, scythe, dual swords, katana and many more fill a deadly arsenal. Learning to engage with them is most certainly offers a great deal of the enjoyment.
Less amazing are the other additional features. The Golden Scarabs littered throughout the world offer bonuses when collected which, in reality, could’ve been offered by any of a dozen alternative means. It’s simply window dressing. Much like the now returning dismemberment system. Which, in reality, has a far less significant impact on the gameplay than one might be expecting. The SmartGlass functionality in the Xbox 360 version was perhaps one of the best additions to the Ninja Gaiden 3 framework. Offering a direct link to other fans worldwide, almost like an early vision of the multiplayer featured in Dark Souls II. Sadly, this functionality no longer exists due to SmartGlass having been discontinued.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge Takes the Fight Online
Online Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is just as much of a muddle as its predecessor was. Totally enjoyable and yet utterly disposable, the competitive gameplay is not Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge’s strongest point. The co-operative gameplay featured in the Ninja Trails is a worthwhile distraction. However, it’s a significant annoyance that no split-screen gameplay is offered.
From a technical standpoint the game is noticeably inferior to its bigger budget competition. Notably other titles of the era, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and DmC: Devil May Cry, performed significantly better.
Looking the Part
The facial animation is the weakest part of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge’s visual design. However, the flexible and swift movement of the camera is a highlight, despite appearing somewhat daunting at first. The voice acting is of a reasonable standard throughout and the soundtrack compliments the in-game action well, though neither is truly remarkable.
Despite having a decade under its belt, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge remains an enjoyable action experience. So much so in fact, that many consider the Wii U version to be vastly superior to the original Ninja Gaiden 3. On PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Team NINJA repackaged the finest version of the game and added a significant amount of new content. This was designed to entice the fans back, and the budget price tag to bring newcomers into the fold. Even now, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is a title that should be experienced by any fans of a true challenge. And just like its series bloodline predecessors, and surely that is the highest commendation it could ever hope to receive.