Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z


Published on: March 4, 2021
SKU: 68bbcce556e0 Categories: ,


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Last Updated on March 4, 2021

Complete Review & Description

It’s obvious, as soon as you start playing Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, that this is not your typical Ninja Gaiden game. While there always comes a point where changing up a franchise is necessary (even one as groundbreaking, tough, and long running as the Ninja Gaiden series) there are times when change just doesn’t work. And Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z doesn’t work. Despite the the collaborative effort between Team Ninja (developers of the previous Ninja Gaiden games), and Keiji Inafune (the producer of Dead Rising 1 and 2), it feels dated, repetitive, and low on content. But, on the bright side, you’re an evil cyborg ninja and there are a lot of zombies.

You play as Yaiba – a vicious ninja who in the game’s opening cinematic, picks a fight with Ryu Hayabusa, the hero of the previous Ninja Gaiden games. Ryu breaks Yaiba’s sword, and lops off his arm and his eye while he’s at it. Yaiba gets rebuilt with robot parts, and under instructions from Miss Monday, a red headed scientist in a push-up bra, starts a new career hacking zombies into pieces. The story is a bit of a mess. Yaiba holds a grudge against Ryu; there’s an evil corporation that occasionally sends helicopters and jets to shoot at you; and it’s all set in an apocalyptic war zone populated with clown zombies, electric zombies, fire zombies, and toxic waste spewing zombies. As far as the story goes, the best thing to do is turn down the sound, crank Rammstein or The Prodigy (or whatever you liked to to listen to while chopping up zombies back in 2007)… and start mashing frenzy.

If Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is anything, it is purely a button masher. Broken Katana, cyborg fist, God of War-like chain thing, you just mash, mash, and keep on mashing, until your thumb starts to bleed. The only break you get is when your attack makes a zombie stagger. When this happens an exclamation mark appears above its head. Then you can hit the left trigger for one of Yaiba’s bloody finishing moves.

Over the years Ninja Gaiden games have not shied away from a bit of violence. And Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is certainly that. It’s chop ’em up, execute ’em, 100+ hit combo kind of violent. Yet in Ninja Gaiden Z they’ve gone for a manga inspired, cell shaded, highly stylised approach to the gore. So when the game cuts away to the finishing moves, cartoon bits of zombie fly everywhere and cartoon waves of blood crash across the screen. Unless you’re finishing off the legs of a zombie that’s been sliced in half. In that case it’s the ever-effective cartoonish swift kick in the crotch. If that’s all you want in a game, Ninja Gaiden Z will serve you fine. However, even stylised ultra-violence gets tiresome when there are only half a dozen finishing moves and by randomly pressing the left trigger you can easily hit twenty every fight.

Although Ninja Gaiden Z is mostly about being surrounded by zombies and mashing buttons, that isn’t all. There are a few puzzles where you have to break down walls or stop a giant industrial fan. This usually means finding the right zombie to throw at it. And, along with the typical hoards of weak, shambling zombies, there are more powerful enemies with ranged attacks. When you beat these you get the chance to steal their ability. Effectively giving you brief use of their fireball, electric, or bile ranged attack. Also, you can collect defensive upgrades, pick your way through an ability tree that among other things unlocks different combos, or extends the duration of your Bloodlust ability – a chargeable ability that makes Yaiba invulnerable and lets him deal extra damage.

While there is nothing new in terms of gameplay, there is plenty of style to the art design. However it’s been done before, and has been done better than this. Especially given the decidedly unhelpful locked camera that adds a very unwelcome level of frustration. Ten years ago locked cameras were bearable and static comic book cut-aways were a creative alternative to costly full motion cut scenes. But now it just feels like the developers are choosing to take the easy option. Add to this – no multi-player and nothing on-line – not even some kind of link to the free Dark Horse web comic tie-in that was available at the beginning of the year, and you have a title that feels very light on content.

At the beginning of Ninja Gaiden Z things don’t start out very well for Yaiba. Hacked up by Ryu, only to be brought back to face the zombie apocalypse. But, for fans of Ninja Gaiden games, it’s even worse. Button mashing, lots of generic zombies, and a few finishing moves replayed over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, I love ninjas and hacking up zombies as much as the next person. Yet while you get a lot of that with Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, what you mainly get is a sense of disappointment and a sore thumb.

Last Updated on March 4, 2021


Last Updated on March 4, 2021