Ninja Gaiden has been a fixture in videogames history all the way up to the previous console generation, during which Ryu Hayabusa vanished. He still showed up in Warriors All-Stars and Dead or Alive of course, but after whatever went down with Keiji Inafune and that Yaiba nonsense the OG brand has been quiet.

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That quiet has been… silenced… with a set of new ports of the Team Ninja era Ninja Gaiden trilogy. Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection comprises the first two games in their “Sigma” iterations, along with Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. It’s pretty exciting to see the return of Ninja Gaiden, but unfortunately that’s all that really is.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection Review

These are pretty much just straight-up ports of these games, presumably from the PS3 versions. There aren’t any bonuses to speak of, unless you snag the $10 DLC made up of soundtracks and an admittedly neat art book. Otherwise, this is a port collection that can’t be described better than “bare-bones.” I reviewed the set on the Nintendo Switch, and there isn’t even a fun wrapper for the trilogy like those divisive Mario games. It’s three separate executables.

That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself; it just kinda shows us what sort of release this “Master Collection” is. If you’re looking for something with the “remaster” treatment you’re going to have to keep waiting. This is purely the Ninja Gaiden trilogy (not the NES one sadly), and there isn’t even a physical version if you don’t want to pay import fees to get one from the SEA region. To be fair, these videogames are the best-running versions of themselves. There’s a bit of controversy floating around the PC version (few and weird options), but even on the Switch I’m playing these games at a solid 60 frames.

What it really comes down to is this: if you haven’t played these games before, this is an excellent way to experience this Ninja Gaiden iteration. Some aspects of these games (I mean, it’s 2000s-era Team Ninja) haven’t aged well, but in terms of character action gaming there’s nothing else like them. Character-based action games are often about flash, style and aggression. The Ninja Gaiden trilogy is more about careful, defensive play; it’s almost like a pre-Dark Souls form of calculated choices to create openings without giving up your own.

Considering how big of a deal Ninja Gaiden was in the past, it’s a shame the Master Collection isn’t something more celebratory. When you look at Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja’s contemporary output, such as the recently-released PS5 Nioh updates, we know there’s more juice available. It just didn’t get used here. Still, I cannot emphasise enough how great these games are even without fun extras, and Master Collection is a good opportunity to try ‘em for the first time or jump back in after several years away.


Pros:

  • We love to see those good frame rates
  • Classic games of their time
  • Distinct gameplay in a crowded genre

Cons:

  • That “time” was peak horny Team Ninja
  • In an era of amazing classic compilations, remasters and tributes, Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection fails to make a case for itself
  • Bizarre and limited PC options

Score: 7.5

 A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review