Nintendo are still trying to convince us that their latest console caters to a mature audience as well as family gaming with this gore-filled title.
The Wii U still has a lot to prove as a grown-up console. It is early days yet, but the seeming absence of some of this year’s biggest core titles may leave the more serious gamer reaching for their PS3 or Xbox360. However, it is not like Nintendo aren’t trying to provide for these gamers as well, and the highly entertaining ZombiU certainly proved that point.
And Nintendo are still trying to make that point with the release of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, a Wii U exclusive version of Team Ninja’s fan favorite third-person action game that promises to be superior to the version found on other consoles. How is it going to achieve such superiority? Well, alongside the added, if somewhat limited, functionality of the Wii U GamePad and some extra content, it would seem that Team Ninja have listened to the criticisms of the fans and made some adjustments to keep them happy.
The Ninja Gaiden games have always had a strong following, made up of core players who welcome the challenge of an unrelenting difficulty level. Razor’s Edge continues this tradition of being tough but fair, but those of you unfamiliar with the game can rest easy with the inclusion of Hero mode, which makes the game far easier and will allow the player to hone their skills before taking on the game proper. On a new console that doesn’t yet have an extensive library, this is kind of important as many players will be picking this game up blind and, without the Hero mode, would be left wondering why they keep dying.
The game revolves heavily around combat as the player takes on the role of Ryu Hayabusa, the kind of modern Ninja who just oozes coolness. There is a story of sorts, but it really does take back seat to the over the top violence and extreme blood letting that follows as Ryu moves from one group of enemies to another. The levels that you work through are relatively linear, not giving much chance for exploration, and the mob battering is punctuated by short action sequences and boss battles. If you are looking for a deep game, this may not be the one for you. However, for pure blood-soaked fun and a real challenge, Razor’s Edge certainly hits the mark.
Combos are the name of the game here, and players who like nothing more than to learn all of the sequential button presses to pull off the most impressive moves will find themselves in precision button pressing heaven. Those who prefer button mashing will have trouble here, although the Hero mode will still allow you to progress. With practice and patience though, the combos come thick and fast, and the player will soon find themselves jumping from one enemy to another, ripping them to pieces in the process and leaving a colourful puddle in their wake.
As play progresses, the enemies become much more capable (not that they were not capable to begin with), but the gameplay stays the same with heavy use of the block and dash moves. Things are spiced up a little with Ninja magic (Ninpo), but frankly if you are not happy with moving from one area to the next simply to kill bad guys, then look elsewhere.
As for the improvements over the other versions of the game, there is no denying that Team Ninja have gone all out to make Razor’s Edge the best of all. The ability to hack off enemies limbs, only to have them still trying to take you down is comical, but welcome. There has also been a progression system included that allows players to improve their skills and weapons using Karma points. The appearance of Ayane (from the Dead or Alive series) in her very own chapters feels slightly out of place, although still enjoyable due to her different play style and weapons.
When it comes to the Wii U specific capabilities, thankfully Team Ninja haven’t tried to shoehorn in too many gimmicks. The touch screen can be used for various actions and menu controls, but there is nothing really beyond that. It all controls well and is easy to play (well, as easy as the game allows it to be). The only exception is the camera, which doesn’t always settle in the best place. Players are able to control the camera themselves, but doing so makes combat even more challenging as the player jumps from buttons to stick.
Besides the main game, there is a multiplayer online mode that will allow the player to spend many hours leveling up their Ninja and making him into a force to be reckoned with. For the fans, there are plenty of hours of gameplay here, but again it is not the most varied of gameplay and will wear thin quite quickly for most Wii U gamers.
Given the relative lack of games on Nintendo’s new system at the moment, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is certainly welcome. But the high difficulty level, unless you use Hero mode which feels like cheating, and the minimal variety in the gameplay will put players off. Newcomers to the series should be prepared for a challenge, but can look forward to some mindless fun. For the Ninja Gaiden fans, Razor’s Edge is the best version of Ninja Gaiden 3 at the moment, so pick it up if you have a Wii U.