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Review

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PS3
  • X360
Robert Handlery on Google+

The mocking dead.

From the desk of Ryu Hayabusa: "Why won't he let me save the world? I just want to help people. And hug animals. And give lavender lollipops to children and old people. Mmm...Momiji's thighs. No, I have to save the world. Where's my binkie?"

From the desk of Momiji: "He's got some hot woman helping him. I'm sooo jealous. Maybe I'll kill her when I see her. Or maybe we can make out. Maybe we'll have a threesome! I'll do whatever Yaiba tells me to do. I'm so horny..."

These diary entries weren't actually written by the attributed authors, but rather rose from the vivid imagination of Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z's antihero. And they tell you much of what you need to know about this hack-and-slash game's unlikable star, as well as its own sense of humor. Ninja Gaiden Z is crass and stupid but rarely funny. It's mean and dumb but never witty or subversive. Listening to its characters speak is like hearing the inner workings of an 8-year-old's mind--an 8-year-old who just discovered how to swear and can't wait to drop his newfound knowledge at dinnertime. Puerile profanity and sexual humor can be appealing, and games like South Park: The Stick of Truth and MadWorld revel in their own lewdness to great success. By contrast, Ninja Gaiden Z flings swearwords and bawdy imagery and wants you to laugh because, you know, vaginas are funny.

Player character Yaiba is clearly not meant to be liked as he pursues his revenge quest against archnemesis and usual Ninja Gaiden star Ryu Hayabusa, but then again, no one comes across as particularly interesting or charismatic--not one-note guide Miss Monday, whose primary character traits are her monumental breasts, and certainly not the composers of the game's compendium. Complaining of his wealthy boss, one author writes, "After six years of holding our dicks in our hands, finally that Spanish knobhead Del Gonzo authorized some action," and later enthuses over his rising "blood-boner." The alluring comic-book art style and initial gore are enough to inspire a momentary blood-boner, but sadly, the poor dialogue is not the game's biggest deficiency.

No, that honor belongs to the action itself, which furnishes just enough fun to make you wonder how developers Comcept and Spark Unlimited allowed it to go off the rails so often. As cyberninja Yaiba Kamikaze, you wade through cartoon zombie hordes using your sword, your flail, your metal fist, and every so often, a weapon that downed foes drop, like electrified nunchuks or a rocket launcher. When encounters are kept simple, the action is immensely shallow, but satisfying in a button-mashy kind of way, in which you press buttons and blood splatters all over your television screen.

You'll fight this big boy a half-dozen more times than you'd want.

My favorite standard weapon is the flail; using it gives the combat a God of War feel, and its long reach makes it useful for ripping through a large number of lurching zombies at once. The flail's appeal is not found just in its ability to create copious amounts of blood, but also in its mass trauma capabilities, allowing you to make numerous foes simultaneously vulnerable to a gory execution. Such executions can be chained together in quick succession, with you pulling a shoulder button when one execution pauses to move on to another. Not only is there some innate glee in seeing zombie heads fly into the air and undead bodies split in half at the torso, but performing executions rewards you with refreshing red cubes that replenish your health meter.

As much as Yaiba's flail recalls Kratos' blades of chaos, Ninja Gaiden Z more resembles 2010's Splatterhouse, not just in its cel-shaded look and sneering tone, but also in its absurd defects, which squash the fun and replace it with equal amounts of tedium and frustration. The irritations don't arise from one design element, but from a mass of them that make Ninja Gaiden Z feel less like a cohesive action game with a clear rhythm and flow, and more like a series of disconnected concepts that don't make any sense together.

Ninja Gaiden Z is crass and stupid but rarely funny. It's mean and dumb but never witty or subversive.

Many of these elements are fundamental, and thus substantial, even when they seem initially minor. The fixed camera is a frequent problem, sometimes forcing you to traverse areas and fight off unseeable enemies without giving you a proper view of your surroundings, and other times swooping around when you cross a threshold in the midst of combat, disrupting the tempo of combat as well as the viewable arc of the combat arena. It's even less fun when you begin one of many battles against a mechanical boss, in which its hulking metal body looms in the foreground, and you dash around behind it, hidden from view. You might even try dashing between its thundering legs, only to get caught up on an invisible collision box and be forced to take your lumps as you try to extricate your bruised body.

As if to mimic Ninja Gaiden's famously high level of difficulty, Ninja Gaiden Z fills the screen with hulks that fling fire, jilted brides that sizzle with electricity, and mutants that puke bile in your direction. But where games like Ninja Gaiden Black gift you with precise combat systems that reward skillful play, Ninja Gaiden Z takes the shallowest and cheapest approach to difficulty imaginable, throwing so many of these enemies into the arena that skill is barely relevant. Sparking enemies teleport to your side and slap you around while you're dashing about to snuff out the flames engulfing you; killer clowns knock you into submission when you're rushing away from suicidal grenadiers. Blocking and countering certain attacks is possible, but is rarely a viable tactic given how quickly and randomly this mess plays out onscreen.

Time to stop clowning around, Yaiba.

Ninja Gaiden Z's so-called chemistry set exacerbates the frustration. When certain elements come in contact with each other--the biological spew of a blister sister and the flames of a holy roaster, for instance--they cause interactions. The chemistry set is functional enough when you use it to solve the game's mild puzzles, but the lightning storms that suddenly ignite on the battlefield when fire and lightning meet are more hazardous than the threats they alleviate. As a result, death is a frustration and not a teaching tool, and your primary method of healing--collecting post-execution health drops--is unreliable. The prompts to execute enemies might appear in the middle of one sword swing and vanish just as quickly when the second half of your combo rips the vulnerable enemy to shreds.

Gross!

This is one of many examples of how Ninja Gaiden Z corrupts its most interesting mechanics with subpar detailing. Executions satisfy the primal urge to squish mutated baddies, but they're also gawky to watch, given how each chained execution is visually distinct rather than connected to the others. Performing a series of brutalities is more like viewing a series of incoherent three-second films than showing off your acrobatic expertise. Another of Ninja Gaiden Z's best assets--its scripted, high-flying parkour sequences--are similarly diminished. Stringing leaps, grapples, and punches like the world's most violent gymnast is an absolute blast; fumbling around with the finicky contextual jumps (indicated by a ledge splattered with blood) and camera angles that disrupt your sense of depth is not.

So much for that blood-boner, then, not that you'd be able to keep it up during the game's first major showdown, which drops to single-digit frame rates in the heat of battle. Still, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z keeps pumping out the blood, hoping to turn you on with its gory combat and vulgar attitude. Every so often, 8-year-old me--the part of me that thinks that asking everyone what word starts with "f" and ends in "u-c-k" is funny--got a kick out of Yaiba's exploits. Most of the time, however, I could only wish that Ninja Gaiden Z's striking art style had been applied to a better canvas.

The Good
Action has some shallow appeal at first
The scripted parkour moves are great fun
The Bad
Abysmal writing and dialogue
Frustrating combat scenarios lack rhythm and flow
Lots of bad camera angles
Poorly implemented execution moves
4
Poor
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd loves Ninja Gaiden, bloody action, and crass humor, but Yaiba left him cold. He finished the campaign in about seven hours and spent about two hours squashing the undead in Arcade mode. If you're looking for some old-fashioned profanity and sexual imagery, he suggests playing MadWorld instead.

Discussion

298 comments
kenpachi212
kenpachi212

Obviously KVO forgot the most important thing about video games: FUN!!! This game is really fun, combat is great, graphics are a nice change and the story is good. This kicks Ninja Gaiden´s 3 ass by a mile!!! KVO has become one of those boring movie critics and forgot this is videogame and not real life. This game should be at least a 7 which is good for industry standards.

OHGFawx
OHGFawx

RIP ninja gaiden, at least I was smart enough to keep Black and NG2 in my collection. NG2 wasn't bad, just had some hiccups and one terribly implemented boss fight. Unfortunately its been nothing but crap ever since. I have the Sigmas as well, 1 is ok, but its simply not as fluid as Black, and Sigma 2 handicaps your ability to upgrade weapons in a way that really pissed me off. Making it so you can't raise any weapon to level 3 until every weapon is at level 2? What idiot came up with that idea?


P.S. I popped 0 blood boners during the video review. 

j_kizi
j_kizi

Damn, was hoping this would be at least as good as Afro Samurai...


joemusashi82
joemusashi82

wow I miss Ninja Gaiden 2. Good thing I still have it.

Nissemean
Nissemean

Im not surpriced over this score.

I had no hopes at all for this game after I saw the trailer how cool and edgy it tried to be.

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

Cmon guys does the idea of having "fun" in a video game mean anything to you....i mean we dont play ALL games for story and writing....this game promises exactly that...fun and nothing else....now i like my skill trees and philosophical undertones in my games just as much as the next guy.....but i sometimes also enjoy the idea of having mindless fun....now if you're gonna judge a game on doing what it's good at....go ahead.


now these reviewers assess the game very methodologically....they have this mental checklist of sorts to tick while playing....like camera angels,writing etc...they've forgotten that some games are just made for fun....or to be played after getting high with friends....which this game is exactly imo.

nparks
nparks

I was considering giving these guys another chance after their disgraceful effort on Ninja Gaiden 3.  If the reviews were good enough, I probably would have ended up giving Yaiba a shot.  Fortunately, I'll not have to risk further disappointment now.

When is Itagaki's game coming?

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

Hah.  I just beat this game last night and like I've been saying, Kevin Van Turd is full of turd.  The key is that this game is difficult so play on the easy setting and upgrade like crazy so you can play at the harder settings on your next playthrough.  I did not experience a single framerate dip, and there were no cheap battles whatsoever.  The last boss I couldn't beat until I looked it up on YouTube, there was a very logical way to beat him that I just didn't take the time to figure out for myself.  Don't confuse simplicity of controls with simplicity of gameplay.  This game is as strategic as any hack & slash title I've ever played.  And no, NOBODY needs to learn from Dark Souls 2.  It is a game of memorization and no skill whatsoever.  NGZ is all about learning its combat system and applying what you learn, not some random, mysterious enemy that you have to memorize every single encounter.

deion_sandals
deion_sandals

It's baffling how far the Ninja Gaiden series has fallen without Itagaki.  I can only hope Team Ninja might learn from Dark Souls 2 and From Soft that a sequel can be more accessible than it's predecessors without sacrificing what made it unique.


Fortunately Platinum Games has carried on the action game torch with Bayonetta, but it's a shame we'll never get to see Bayonetta 2 on Sony or MS systems as it seems unlikely there will be a third entry in the series.

MC12294
MC12294

Two bad games in a row. WOW

PupilsDilated
PupilsDilated

Ninja Gaiden 1 and Ninja Gaiden Black for the original Xbox, along with Ninja Gaiden 2 for the Xbox 360 are the ONLY versions you need to play.

Stay away from the Sigma versions, unless you prefer a watered-down experience.  The Sigma versions are simply too easy, in my opinion.  Although, they're not as bad as Ninja Gaiden 3.  What a nightmare!

JJMK25
JJMK25

i just rather play the Ninja Gaiden series instead of this.

Kusann
Kusann

Anyone here played Oneechanbara? This game feels as bland, idiotic, shallow and mediocre as that game felt. Hell, I even had more fun playing Oneechanbara on the Wii than playing this. Don't waste your money, this game is BO-RING, and this comes from a hack and slash lover, I don't expect an intrincate story with superb dialogue in a hack and slash, I just expect great combat...this game doesn't have anything. Stick with Ninja Gaiden 2, Sigma and variations. Ninja Gaiden is dead right now.

RCT4ShouldExist
RCT4ShouldExist

They're trying to take a page from the not-so-serious development style. Shooting for the casual gamer market hoping to be the beat em up version of borderlands 2 and saints row 3/4. Thanks devs, for a game that we can point and laugh at. Maybe they should play some games and try to think of something to contribute instead of listening to their half assed market research team.

Tiwill44
Tiwill44

The art style seems to be a clear positive, so why wasn't it taken into account in "The Good"?

Also, I don't think the point of this kind of game is to deliver witty writing and dialogue...

xolivierx
xolivierx

I'm looking at my copy of Ninja GAiden Sigma and thinking *RIP Ninja Gaiden*

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

Perhaps it can me rebalanced and polished for Yaiba Sigma on PS4/ X1 ;)

Ravenlock_2112
Ravenlock_2112

The only one who's going to enjoy this game is johnny, cause it has Feedbackula written all over it.


kalgert
kalgert

Huh, with all the trailers that made it look super-badass, it gets a 4/10


...I wonder if Angry Joe is gonna make a review about it, after making the Titanfall review, I have hard doubts about these reviews from gaming sites


Titanfall is getting 10/10 or 9/10 across the board, Joe gave it a 7/10, why you may ask? Simply told: Game has little substance in clans, lobbies, private matches etc. etc. The Campaign is lackluster (Yes yes, the whole "DIS EZ MULTYPLEYER" is a thing, but Campaigns are also played by many people) and also non-creative modes (In my opinion too)

Hurvl
Hurvl

Why oh why, Kevin, did you choose that looping puking character above the review? Is it to show how the game gives you a bad taste in your mouth, almost to the point of vomiting? 4/10 isn't nauseatingly bad.

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

If there's only one word that explains why this game is getting the mediocre scores, it's "ACCESSIBILITY."  That is the real reason fanboys like Van Turd are knocking this game.  It is a game that can be enjoyed by everyone.  The controls are simple and you can pull off some amazing moves without having to memorize button combinations for several hours a day. Elitists tend to get upset over this.  They feel like their boyfriends cheated on them or something when other players get to enjoy and excel in a game that only they used to be able to beat.  Then Van Turd turns around and accuses the game of the same flaw that diehard fans of the older Ninja Gaidens loved; cheapness.  Though that is hardly the case with Yaiba.  Van Turd went as far as to flat out lie about the frame rate, which has been nothing but silky smooth for me.  Just like IGN sabotaged the best-of-series Ninja Gaiden 3 and accused it of having "ps2 graphics."  Unbelievable!

corteztheg
corteztheg

at least this is gonna make a one funny weekend rental

00J
00J

To think i had planned to buy this with all the hype last year... Whew! (((Wipes brow)))


Securator
Securator

Making this game was like kicking the nuts of the corpse of a already dead franchise....who thought zombies against ninjas is a good idea,again...???.

i'm stlii gonna play it though.

179107199999
179107199999

@GregoryBastards  hard to have fun when combat is repetitive and bad camera angles get you cheaply killed. They didn't forget.This reviewer didn't forget. Games can be mindless and fun look at Call of Duty.That game is more playable than this.I can't stand bad cameras and fake challenges.

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

@nparks  This isn't 1990.  Most gamers have grown up, have jobs and don't have to ask mommy to buy them video games.  The industry has also ballooned into a multi billion dollar business and only a moron will make games for the 2% of gamers who think they're so "hardcore" and spend hours each day flaming about their games over the internet.  It's the 98% that matters, those of us with real lives and don't have time to be fanboys and pledge undying loyalty to a game.  I knew from the very first moment Yaiba was revealed that it was going to get panned by NG fans because of how irreverent it is to the series and how it is legitimately better in just about every aspect.  I also knew that I was going to love it, and I was right about that, too.

zerantoss
zerantoss

@FighterforJC  Lol dark souls 2 is a game of memorization and no skill whatsoever? Right.... I feel you lost credibility just by saying that lmao

DesertEaglex24
DesertEaglex24

@FighterforJC Sounds like the buyers remorse is kicking in. This game is utter crap and the average score is a 47 on metacritic lol. Hows it feel $60 wasted on this 5hr mediocre trash?

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

@RCT4ShouldExist  and it's funny that the diehard elitists are sabotaging the reviews to prevent the "casual gamer market" (read: normal people with real lives and real jobs and do not live in mom's basement).  This is by far the best Ninja Gaiden in the series.

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@xolivierx  I loved Ninja Gaiden Sigma! o___o


Wish they added a trophy set for the PS3 version, seeing it have a set on Vita kinda ticks me off, specially that it's an inferior port.


On that, see this (Yaiba) more like the Splatter House/ Lollipop Chainsaw/ Dante Infernos of gaming & you probably won't be so dissappointed xD


I'm~a gonna hold out for a PS4 version, hopefully will be improved by then. Team Ninja love re-releases haha.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@kalgert  

Yet ultimately, Joe still likes the game, even if not as much as the others.

naomha1
naomha1

@FighterforJC  While you're entitled to your personal opinion on the matter, I highly doubt that VAN ORD (because that's how you spell his name nimrod) lied, cheapened or otherwise rated it lower than it deserved. The game blows. After just a couple of hours in I was scratching my head wondering wtf I was playing. There is absolutely NO skill involved in this game. Sure, it's accessible, if that's what you want, but then again, that's the only thing it's got going for it right now. Blood boners though? Seriously? This game is stupid. Jump, hit, jump, hit, jump, hit. No skill. No thank you. While you might want to call me an "elitist", at least Ninja Gaiden 1 and 2 actually required thinking and skill and just not repetitive button pushes. Any game can do that. Also, the entire's world's consensus is that Ninja Gaiden 3 was mediocre at best. Best of series? Hardly. IGN sabotaged a game? Put down the bong water, you're not supposed to drink it man.

179107199999
179107199999

@FighterforJC @nparks  It could be said the game was made for gamers like you. NG fans may have turned it down because the combat wasn't like past NG games and it lacked the technique. it was fun to combo and evade and do essence attacks and just all out fight.Back then NG was like a mini fighting game.I remember learning when you block you roll to get out of block stun animation. From what I saw yaiba was heavily lacking. it had no substance. What's fun in cheap deaths resulting in a bad camera and losing to numbers instead of a tough enemy/enemies.And a game that forces you to play on easy isn't right.In the NG reboot on the X Box you played and upgraded as the game went on in Normal.I don't know though maybe the game was just difficult for you.Have you played any other action games prior to playing Yaiba? Because honestly looking at this game it doesn't look hard at all

SillySkeleton
SillySkeleton

@FighterforJC @nparks Legitimately better how?? Unlike the NES games, Ninja Gaiden Black, and NGII, this game will be forgotten in a month. Let's face it, you'll probably be too busy with 'real life' to care about it once the credits roll.

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

@DesertEaglex24  Reaching there a bit?  "buyers remorse?" lol.  Yaiba is awesome.  Get a life.  I hope you get the "street cred" you're so desperately seeking by trying to prove you're "hardcore."  It was $60 well spent and I can't wait to play the game over (as soon as I beat infamous second son)  I've played enough games to be able to smell ulterior motives behind reviews, and this review and most of them reek of it.


179107199999
179107199999

@FighterforJC @RCT4ShouldExist  That's the stupidest thing I've seen.What's to say the "elitists" as you call them don't have jobs or real lives.Perhaps you never played a Ninja Gaiden game or perhaps you weren't patient enough to get through the game.Seriously looking at game mechanics,characters,story,and art style previous NG games were better.And going on about casual gamers. I'm not saying all of you whine but a lot of you do.You don't care to seem to want to learn the game. I mean you stated you had to start on easy and upgrade.If the game was truly good.It would've shown you all the combat stratgies you need to complete the game. REAL GAMERS (elites as you call them) Don't try to be elite.They just sit read directions experiment and keep playing until they truly understand the game.Some people play.Some people play and learn.Back then Developers expected players to play adapt and learn.But now we have players who are so impatient they never learn how to adapt.Elite gamers are normal they just know how to pay attention and even after their work day is done they come home and play the games they love just like regular casual gamers who the majority can figure how to play a game right because they're too lazy.Kinda reminds me of this guy DSP...

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

@naomha1 @FighterforJC  Ninja Gaiden 1 and 2 "required thinking and skill?"  LOL.  Sorry I don't use video games for bragging rights. I don't play games to feel sophisticated, I play it for entertainment, it has nothing to do with my self worth.  I understand the empty lives of a lot of gamers who only find meaning when they can play a game that no normal person in society can.  NG1 and 2 required "thinking and skill" to work around its broken and archaic mechanics.  I highly doubt you can say that Yaiba "blows" since you don't even have the game, you're simply part of the community who are losing sleep over the fact that normal people can play and enjoy games, making guys like you feel less special.

OHGFawx
OHGFawx

@SillySkeleton @FighterforJC @nparks  If the 98% are all that matters, why is this game selling so poorly? Why aren't the 98% scooping it up in droves since its clearly such an awesome game? My friend at Gamestop says hardly anyone has picked it up and you know why? They aren't going to pay $60 for crap, they'll wait until its in the bargain bin.

179107199999
179107199999

@FighterforJC @naomha1  No one played the games for bragging rights.They play for fun just like you.Some players can see how deep a game is.The more they probe the more they find.and that keeps them interested and the result is refinement.And though NG 1 and 2 have old mechanics. They're still better than Yaiba. You say your normal but you love easy challenges. A game with no challenge isn't fun.That's akin to living a life with no struggle or strife. A life with no struggle isn't worth living.A game with no struggle isn't worth playing. Here's the real problem. You casuals rule everything.You're the ones who soak up DLC and give Companies the OK to keep shipping out half done games that are dumbed to the point childern can beat them.Hard to enjoy a game that doesn't challenge you.Also you let them know its okay to keep giving us the same game again and again (Call of Duty series).I'm attacking you because you're attacking fellow gamers and not even trying to understand them. A gamer is a gamer.We shouldn't label each other unless one is openly in the wrong. When we see gamers whose ablities are beyond normal we shouldn't be jealous and call names we should be impressed and try to understand what they did.

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z has players battling fierce zombies as Yaiba, a cyborg ninja who will do anything to get revenge and stay alive.
    5
    Average User RatingOut of 23 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
    Developed by:
    Spark Unlimited, comcept
    Published by:
    TECMO KOEI GAMES CO., LTD., Team Ninja, Koei Tecmo Games
    Genres:
    Adventure, Action, 3D, Open-World
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language