Koei Tecmo’s answer to users wanting to relive the adventures of Ryu Hayabusa in the franchise that made Tecmo’s ninja legend is now in stores. Does the compilation live up to such a great legend? We tell you in our analysis of Ninja Gaiden Master Collection the keys after a decaffeinated return of Hayabusa to current consoles.
How debatable is the idea of bringing a compilation of Ninja Gaiden with its Sigma versions as it has done Koei Tecmo with his Ninja Gaiden Master Collection? A fairly illustrative sample by way of anecdote: a fan took Tomonobu Itagaki, thinking mind after the return of the ninja more than 15 years ago, a copy of Ninja Gaiden Sigma at the presentation of Ninja Gaiden 2 in Spain. The Japanese artist, neither short nor lazy, refused to sign it. Why? Because he did not consider that Ryu Hayabusa’s adventure on PS3 was his own, despite being a kind of remake of his original work on Xbox. Did the mythical creator of the Dead or Alive saga exaggerate or did he have reasons for making such a decision? Given the circumstances of the development of Sigma, I understand perfectly: it was done behind the back of its original creator and, although competent in a PS3 badly in need of new releases Back then, many of the decisions made in its development betrayed many of the ideas born from the original Xbox.
Is the compilation doomed to failure? No, but it is evident that it is missed some pampering for one of Tecmo’s most legendary franchises that, despite its total absence in stores for years, would have deserved a more dignified treatment than that received in the present premiere. A relaunch of the three installments without major celebrations than its own presence. Point. Maybe some galleries or interviews? A gesture that dresses the whole with some celebration of a trilogy that is still important among the genre? hack and slash? What it would not have done if it were the publisher, of course, is to limit the arrival of a Ninja Gaiden 4 to the sales of a decaffeinated compilation that will not satisfy its most ardent fans, perfectly aware of the greatness of the two original versions of the software .
So… Who is Ninja Gaiden Master Collection for? For players who have never faced a Ryu Hayabusa adventure and who can now do so on contemporary consoles without having to go to the storage room to see his challenging productions. Ready to wield the Dragon Sword?
Ninja Gaiden Sigma: Hayashi’s Vision
Imagine the following scenario: a time traveler kills a fly in 2005 and Demon’s Souls ends up coming out some time after its premiere on PS3 on Xbox 360. Imagine that, a second team within FromSoftware decides to make playable and aesthetic changes in order to make it more accessible to new fans who would enjoy the title on the Microsoft console. Would you be for or against? It would satisfy the critical side that demands easy modes for Souls-style games and would find, perhaps, a new audience at the cost of its playable purity, right? Well, the situation of Ninja Gaiden Sigma was something similar: far from being an absolute disaster, and although it is satisfactory for players who did not play the original or Black in its day, it took a series of decisions and somewhat controversial measures for any fan of the software. original.
Clearly Hayashi and his team decided to take a different course for a saga that, in reality, was not his own, and in the hands of the players it was left to deliberate whether the vision of one or another artist was adequate for the future of the brand. I do not know if one day we will know if this project responds to a belief of Hayashi himself or the commercial desire of Tecmo herself. What do you prefer? I would dare to say that Xbox players were clear about the decision; those on PlayStation 3 had no choice but to accept Hayashi’s vision on their consoles. The point is that Sigma has many of the keys that they made Ninja Gaiden great, but it is also true that it is not as challenging as the original and loses some of the essence that made it one of the great video games exclusive to the first Microsoft console.
Looking at the privileges taken by Ninja Gaiden Sigma, it is not surprising some decisions made in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. The devilish difficulty of the original game was sacrificed for a higher resolution on PlayStation 3 saving enemies on screen. An attempt was made to alleviate these circumstances with lots of extra content (although much reused from the past installment, certainly) and some additions that created division between the players of the original and the new users of the Sony console. However, and although the decisions made by the other Team Ninja may or may not be justifiable, the reality is that there are some measures taken in the production launched a little over ten years ago that could have been rethought in its re-release in the Master Collection. . No, I’m not talking about the grotesque control of female breasts by Sixaxis: I’m talking about the issue of blood.
Ninja Gaiden 2 and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, being similar games, are very different from each other in practiceTo put in situation those outside the aesthetic problem of the crimson flow: instead of lowering the tone of blood or gore, Team Ninja decided to replace the plasma with a kind of purple smoke out of place. He didn’t like it then and he didn’t like it now. Without the intention of reopening a debate older than the consoles that receive the new ports, what justification can exist for extracting all traces of blood and leaving an option as disgusting as the Sixaxis? Would it have been a big problem to change it? Considering the vague effort made in general with the Master Collection, I believe that the decision obeys more to the law of minimum effort than to the good intention of correcting something that, indisputably, did not satisfy anyone.
The point is that Ninja Gaiden 2 and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, being similar games, are very different from each other in practice. A problem (or virtue for any player who enjoys more of a more relaxed experience at the controls of their console) that Ninja Gaiden 3 does not have. More than respecting the ideas of Itagaki, the third part and its subsequent reissue, Razor’s Edge, followed the course foreseen by the new Team Ninja led by Hayashi, with a compliant Ryu Hayabusa adventure, but that was far from the great chapters starring in last. What we find here is a very complete version of Ninja Gaiden 3, with all the extras that were added starring old acquaintances of the saga itself and its sister franchise Dead or Alive.
Ninja Gaiden 3, the only original
The main problem of the pack? As we have already said, his little work and pampering in general. Improving three games of the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation on current machines seems like the bare minimum to enjoy the three titles on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC and the new generation What is left at the end with the Master Collection? An unsatisfactory product for traditional fans and a compilation incapable of providing a coherent tribute to any curious person in the franchise. Didn’t you like the Sigma? Beyond the technical improvements of next generation consoles, nothing remarkable. There is so little attention to detail that they have not even bothered to restore Team Ninja’s intros to Full HD, a sign of the zero affection in the present production. In summary: if the arrival of Ninja Gaiden 4 depended on the sales of the Master Collection I would not have much hope.
At the end of the analysis, the question is obvious: why Koei Tecmo has not thrown the original Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden 2 if they are so different and celebrated by the community? Simple: because according to the director of Team Ninja, Fumihiko yasuda, the code of both programs and Ninja Gaiden Black are unrecoverable. Sad truth? The reality is that not everything is black, and celebrating that new players can enjoy the adventures of Ryu Hayabusa, even in versions different from the originals, is already positive news. It falls short, however, if we take into account the value of the brand and the residue it left among lovers of action and hack and slash in the first decade of the 21st century.
What should we learn from the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection experience? That companies should be more aware of the public to which they direct their products and that the preservation of video games, while it is not important for the developers themselves, can never be so for the rest of the industry. The other lesson lies in the presentation of the project: it takes more attention to detail than three copies of the game and just enough to meet the new generations of consoles to be a minimally attractive product. It is a truism: Ryu Hayabusa deserved something more.