Since I just got my Wii U, I wanted to see just how well the gamepad could handle some hardcore gaming. Sure it works great with Nintendoland, but what about a real gamerís game? And whatís a more hardcore game to put it to the test than Ninja Gaiden?
Now, Iím not really a Ninja Gaiden fan. I played a bit of Ninja Gaiden 2 on the 360 at a friendís house before, but that was the extent of my experience when I went into this. I knew this game was renowned for its difficulty but all I can says is ďdamn!Ē, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. This game is absolutely rage inducing even on normal difficulty.
Graphically, this game seems to be on par with the Xbox 360 and PS3 counterpart, Ninja Gaiden 3. Some of you may try to call the Wii U out on that by saying the graphics are not superior, but please keep in mind that this is a launch title. When the 360 first launched, the games pretty much looked like Xbox and Gamecube games. In time, developers will learn the ins and outs of the system, and graphics will improve. In the meantime, Razorís Edge looks marvelous and itís very refreshing to be playing a Nintendo console in 1080p. Animations are great, lighting does a great job of setting the mood, and of course the gory blood sprays are downright disgusting (or awesome depending on whom you are).
Speaking of gore, this gameís M rating is not to be taken lightly. Copious amounts of blood? Check. Flying severed limbs? Check. F bombs being dropped everywhere? Check. Tatas? Definitely check. I almost canít believe Nintendo had a hand in this game. When Ninja Gaiden 3 was released on the other platforms, it had a very negative reception. Nintendo helped Tecmo fix the game up, add new content and put it on the Wii U. In other words this is a fixed version of the flopped Ninja Gaiden 3. Along with the updated combat and boss fights, they have also added numerous new weapons, new playable characters, and even expanded the story mode to include Ayane.
The premise of Ninja Gaiden is that you, usually Ryu Hyabusa, must reach your goal killing anything that stands in your way. You have your basic light and heavy combo attacks, a bow, and magic abilities known as ninpo to help you accomplish this. As you fight, you earn karma. The better you perform in battle, the more karma you receive. This karma may be spent on weapons you have unlocked, or to upgrade those weapons, your ninpo and unlock new moves and abilities. As I mentioned earlier, this game defines hard, and especially during boss fights youíre almost guaranteed to die quite a few times in this game. I have been stuck on a single boss for around an hour and a half on normal difficulty. This game is not for the faint of heart. In fact, this game was way too hard for me, and Iím not afraid to admit it.
The story is easy to follow even if you know nothing about Ninja Gaiden. Taking place after Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, a masked alchemist places a curse on Ryu known as the ďGrip of MurderĒ, which drives him to madness and causes a few sequences in the game where he uncontrollably kills. This alchemist is ultimately planning to take over the world, using Ryu as a pawn to accomplish this. New in Razorís Edge are missions where you control Ayane, the plot of which mostly centers around the Black Spider Clan. I assume they are from previous entries in the series.
Aside from story mode, there is also ďchapterĒ challenge in which you can attempt to set and beat your own score using Ryu, Ayane (after completing story mode) or as Momiji or Kasumi via FREE downloadable content. In this mode you can also collect scarabs, which are also available in story mode, which will unlock new weapons and upgrades. These bonus characters can also be upgraded just like Ryu. If youíre itching for some multiplayer, there is also an online vs mode, but as I am terrible at the game I didnít even bother embarrassing myself. If you have the time, Razorís Edge has content to fill it with.
The gamepad performs very well, and I was very shocked at how natural it really felt. I thought you would need a classic controller to enjoy this game fully, but that is not true. As one would expect, the left stick moves your character, and the right stick moves the camera. Your basics such as light and heavy attack, jump, and shurriken are mapped to the face buttons, and the D-pad accesses certain menus. Meanwhile, the triggers handle guarding, dodging and your bow. The touch screen displays a couple of icons to access things such as your upgrade tree, as well as a list of combos. No touch screen controls are used, however, though there is the option to use your ninja sense via taping it. You can just click the right stick instead, though. All in all, the gamepad impressed me, and has proven that it can handle hardcore gaming as well as casual party games.
Now that you know about all the good stuff, itís time to point out the negatives. The voice acting is not that great in my opinion. Iím sure there are those that disagree, but I found Ryuís voice in particular to just be boring, so I switched the audio to Japanese and turned on subtitles. It felt much more natural this way. Environments are incredibly linear, so there isnít that much exploring to be done at all. Since this is a hack and slash, I donít guess thatís much of a problem, but Iíve heard some fans say it is more linear than normal. Lastly, in the first level you are taught how make yourself invisible, sneak up on an enemy, and throw him off a balcony to his doom. I canít recall a single time other than that 1 sequence where this ability was utilized, and that sucks.
So, in closing Ninja Gaiden 3: Razorís Edge is a very challenging and impressive launch title that shows well that the gamepad is for more than just party games and gimmicks. If you are looking for a mature game for you Wii U library, it doesnít get more family unfriendly than this. Similarly, if itís a challenge youíre looking for, this game is not afraid to kick your ass and laugh at you. The difficulty was honestly too much for me, so if you are able to play on anything higher than normal, I salute you. Razorís Edge is a well-crafted, bloody, challenging game that will dismiss many suspicions about Nintendoís glorious new system, and is hopefully a sign of things to come.