The new entry in the famed Ninja Gaiden series takes on a new direction with Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z developed by Team Ninja and published by Tecmo Koei by having a new protagonist, a new enemy, a new art direction and new gameplay mechanics. It’s a huge change as previously they kept focused on master ninja Ryu and his exploits and adventures which took him all over the world against all kinds of creatures. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z begins with Yaiba duelling with legendary master ninja Ryu Hayabusa, of course we all know how it was inevitably going to end, yup! Yaiba is mortally wounded and left for dead by Hayabusa. It’s not long before Yaiba is picked up by a mysterious organisation that installs a cybernetic arm and eye in place of Yaiba’s damaged body parts and informs him of a zombie outbreak of which Hayabusa is racing to find the source to stop it. Yaiba agrees to help the organisation to stop the infection and seek revenge on Hayabusa. The story sounds serious, and it is however it never takes itself serious due to the comedy skits scattered throughout the entire game. The story is interesting enough to stay playing if you don’t expect a deep narrative.
Yaiba is heavily action orientated; it is a variation of the traditional action from the previous games. Players have three weapons to use which can be mixed up to pull off some impressive looking combos. Defeating certain heavies allows Yaiba to perform a slick looking finishing move which success in this gives Yaiba a temporary substitute weapon using the limbs of that enemy for example the Numb-Chuks which is a fast attack that is weak yet unblockable. Although the action is impressively fast and extremely exciting, there is one quite damaging factor that brings the game down somewhat; the unbalanced difficulty. Some battles with enemies are simple and easy to manage however more often than I’d like, things get tough as the drunken zombies have a flurry attack that is difficult to see coming and if there’s two or more of the blighters, you need to really concentrate which kind of takes some of the enjoyment from the game. As far as Yaiba ninja skills go, they don’t match up to Ryu’s from previous games, what I mean is you can only wall run and swing on highlighted paths, which is a shame.
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z moves the series in a new direction visually too which is instantly noticeable. Gone are the gloomy cities and gritty looking characters for a cartoony Manga style aesthetic. This gives the game a comic book feel which fits well with the games comedic content. Its bright and colourful and gorgeous to look at which also goes for the setting and assorted environment and the beginning fight is awesome to watch. Definitely no faults here and Ninja Gaiden Z sports a cracking soundtrack which is a free downloadable with the special edition along with a nice little comic booklet and a download code for Ninja Gaiden Z themed costumes for use with Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate…nice!
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is a fast and frantic action romp which takes the highly acclaimed Ninja Gaiden series in a brand new direction. The new visuals are welcome and match up nicely with the comedy that looms throughout the entire game which is constantly amusing and hilarious. The difficulty spikes stamps a lot of the fun out of this game unfortunately but battle through the hard bits and you’re treated with more beautiful visuals and comedy.
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Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Genre: Hack and Slash
Release Date: 21st March 2014
Story – 4/5
Graphics – 5/5
Gameplay – 4/5
Overall – 4/5