Ryu Hayabusa makes his long-awaited return and though it isn’t in a new game, Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection does see the shinobi’s brutal exploits collected in remastered form. With a release on June 10th for PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC, let’s take a look at 14 things you should know before picking it up.
Includes Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge
The three core titles in the trilogy are here…sort of. The Master Collection includes the Sigma versions of Ninja Gaiden 1 and 2 along with Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, which itself is an enhanced version of the third game. While this may not seem like a huge deal, Ninja Gaiden Sigma changes levels, bosses, puzzles and so on along with adding more save points and vendors. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, on the other hand, reduces the number of enemies (and raises the health of those remaining) and removes Karma Scoring in the Story Mode and Tests of Valor. It also heavily tones down the violence. As for Razor’s Edge, it actually looked to improve on several issues with its predecessor, adding new weapons, the Karma Counter and an upgrade menu among other things.
Long story short, the Master Collection doesn’t offer the original versions of the classics, which are often cited as being the rest. The reason, as per Team Ninja’s Fumihiko Yasuda to Famitsu, is that the original code for Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden 2 couldn’t be salvaged.
Stories and Settings
The story in each title remains more or less the same as their base versions. Ninja Gaiden Sigma sees Ryu Hayabusa seeking revenge for the raid on his village by Doku, who also stole the Dark Dragon Blade. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 has Ryu working with Sonia, a CIA agent, in order to stop Elizebet, the queen of the Greater Fiends, after Hayabusa Village’s Demon Statue is stolen.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge takes a slightly different approach. Ryu works with the Japanese Self-Defense Force to battle a terrorist group but is subsequently cursed by their leader, the Regent of the Mask. With the Dragon Sword now part of his arm and slowly killing him, Ryu must stop the Regent and his plans to annihilate the world.
Ninja Gaiden at its core is a difficult, fast-paced hack and slash series of games. Unlike other similar titles at the time, you couldn’t cancel out of attacks. However, Ryu had a number of different techniques and weapons at his disposal, from wall-running to flying slashes and spinning piledrivers. Along with swords, he could utilize staves, heavy weapons, shuriken, arrows, Ninpo and Ultimate Techniques for annihilating foes. Blocking and evading are key but so is moving and reacting fast. Of course, it’s also worth noting that in terms of exploration and puzzle-solving, Ninja Gaiden Sigma is a fairly big step back from the original and Ninja Gaiden Black.
Ninja Gaiden 2 introduced limb severing, which could weaken but not outright kill some foes – Obliteration Techniques were thus necessary to finish them off. Several new weapons have been added along with lasting damage which provides some manner of healing after each battle. Ultimate Techniques also return and are charged by absorbing essence. Along with toning down the gore, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 tweaks the controls slightly, adjusts some weapons and adds new ones. As noted before, enemies are fewer but have more health to compensate.
Ninja Gaiden 3 made several controversial changes to the series’ formula. Ryu now only has one Ninpo spell in single-player; items have been mostly removed; and his Ultimate Techniques have been replaced by the Grip of Murder which is charged by slaying enemies. He can also throw kunai onto and climb up certain walls. Razor’s Edge speeds up this mechanic while also adding new weapons, more aggressive foes; limb severing and Obliteration Techniques; less quick time events; and much more. In short, it’s more like the previous games (which is a good thing).
Added in Ninja Gaiden 3 and brought over to the first two games with Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus and Sigma 2 Plus, Hero Mode makes the game easier. When enabled in the first game, it triggers when a player’s health falls low with automatically guarding and evasion active. Unlimited Ninpo is also available, allowing the player to turn the tides. In the second game and third games, it’s more about blocking and evading automatically, making the games easier to get through.
Multiple Playable Characters
Each of the Ninja Gaiden titles included in the Master Collection features additional playable characters. Ninja Gaiden Sigma had Rachel with three new chapters and new bosses to tackle. Rachel also had her own chapter in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 while Ayane and Momiji were added, each with their own unique chapters. All three guest characters returned in Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge with Kasumi also added to the mix. Each could be played in Chapter Challenge and Ninja Trials while Ayane received her own two story chapters.
Ninja Race and Tag Missions in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2
Introduced in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus, Ninja Race is about clearing a map as quickly as possible. Attacking enemies and creating a “chain” will increase one’s attack, allowing for faster clear, while items could also increase speed and grant additional time. Tag Missions are also available, letting you choose from Ryu and one of three other characters – Ayane, Rachel or Momoji – to complete a mission with the ability to switch between them. Aside from Ryu, all three guest characters can also be used in Ninja Race.
Ninja Trials and Tests of Valor in Ninja Gaiden 3
Ninja Trials in Ninja Gaiden 3 offer challenges to beat a set number of enemies and are grouped into different difficulties, Acolyte being the easiest and Ultimate Ninja being the toughest. Earning Karma will unlock subsequent trials for play. Then there are Tests of Valor where players must locate Crystal Skulls hidden in each chapter that lead to tough challenges with powerful foes.
Includes All DLC
The Master Collection includes all of the DLC released for each title, which ranges from new costumes for Ryu, Ayane, Rachel, Kasumi and Momiji to new hair-styles. You’ll also experience new battle scenarios, surviving against as many enemies as possible, in Ninja Gaiden Sigma’s Speed Master, Weapons Master and Rachel Master DLC.
No Online Multiplayer
Not everything has made the jump over though. Turbo Mode from Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus isn’t here and players can’t engage in online play for Tag Missions in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 or for Ninja Trials and Clan Battles in Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. In an interview with GamingBolt, Team Ninja’s Fumihiko Yasuda said that implementing the exact same multiplayer systems would “require a great deal of time and money” along with placing “limitations on the platforms we could release it on. And given that dilemma we decided to increase the number of platforms we would release the collection on in order to reach as many players as possible rather than pursue the multiplayer feature.”
Runs at 4K/60 FPS on PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One X, Xbox Series X/S and PC
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection will run in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second on PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, Xbox Series X/S, PS5 and PC. PC performance ultimately depends on one’s hardware. Switch players will have to be satisfied with 720p resolution on both docked and undocked modes at 60 FPS. While there may be fluctuations during gameplay, the focus is on a stable frame rate.
No PS5, Xbox Series X/S Enhancements
Unfortunately, Xbox Series X/S and PS5 players won’t be seeing any enhancements – the Master Collection is playable through backwards compatibility and won’t have any specific features for any of those consoles. Yasuda confirmed this while speaking to GamingBolt and even dashed hopes for a proper current-gen version. Doing so “would actually require a complete remake. We did consider it, but we also wanted to get the games into the hands of players sooner than later. Also, if we had the time and resources for a remake we felt it would be a better served opportunity to create a new game, so that’s why we decided to go with this collection at this time.”
No 120 FPS or Keyboard/Mouse Support on PC
PC players should also note that there won’t be any options for 120 FPS or ultrawide monitor support. Yasuda confirmed to PC Gamer that the Master Collection will run at 1080p/60 FPS for standard systems and 4K/60 FPS with the appropriate hardware and display. It also can’t be played with a keyboard and mouse – you need a controller for the PC version.
Deluxe Edition Details
In terms of Deluxe Edition content, there isn’t much beyond the ordinary. Along with the Master Collection, purchasers receive a digital art book and soundtrack with still images and music from across the series. On the flip side, it’s $44.99 compared to the Standard Edition’s $39.99 so why not?
Playtime for games like Ninja Gaiden can be difficult to gauge. HowLongToBeat.com notes that Ninja Gaiden Sigma 1 and 2 will require 14 hours and 12 hours to complete respectively if you’re just focusing on the story. Meanwhile, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge only requires 7 hours. A completionist run for all titles would amount to about 120 hours of gameplay in total. However, playing on the standard difficulty for the Sigma titles can drive that up quite a bit (depending on one’s skill, of course). Even attempting to complete the toughest challenges in Razor’s Edge should keep you busy for a while. Either way, if you can get into its gameplay, then the Master Collection has plenty to offer.