Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Team Ninja, Spark Unlimited, Comcept
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
March 18, 2014

Ninja Gaiden is a legendary name in the realm of video games. To present the world with an antihero whose goal it is to destroy the famed Ninja Gaiden protagonist, Ryu Hayabusa, is a unique, intriguing approach to this series. Implement a totally over-the-top visual presentation that, due to its ultra-violent cel-shaded style, reminds one of Splatterhouse , and you’ve got the potential for a hugely visceral, highly entertaining hack ‘n slash experience. Unfortunately, the developers sadly opted for teeth-grinding stupidity and mechanical frustration.

The graphics might be the best part of this in-your-face extravaganza, simply because the designers obviously put a ton of effort into the animations and effects. Some of the enemy drawings are just plain wacky, and I loved the gut-wrenching plethora of blood and guts that constantly assaulted the screen. It’s not really my thing, but I’ve come to accept (and better understand) the difference between Japanese and Western cultures. In other words, if you’re an anime fan, you’ll likely appreciate Yaiba ’s extremely colorful and brutal depiction of ceaseless action.

The audio suffers from amateur-ish acting, punctuated by a somewhat repetitive and even annoying soundtrack. I won’t say the score doesn’t fit the action – because for the most part, it does – but many of the selected pieces don’t necessarily enhance…rather, they start to grate. As for the acting, I have to acknowledge that the actors had little with which to work, as the writing is absolutely atrocious. Basically, someone just tried to use as much disgusting language as humanly possible and when that happens, the actors are tossed to the wolves. There’s just nothing you can do to not sound immature and idiotic. Great, splashy effects, though.

Puerile, adolescent, and unbelievably grotesque imagery are the cornerstones of Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z . At no point is it necessary – or even helpful – to include terms like “blood-boner” and “knob-head.” Half of it doesn’t make any sense and the other half is just utterly incomprehensible. There’s a story in there somewhere and there are a few interesting concepts, but it’s buried beneath an onslaught of stupidity. I’m all for creating a viable atmosphere, one that enhances the immersion and keeps you riveted. However, it’s clear they just went way too far and the result is a bloody mishmash of only mildly amusing viscera.

Yaiba obviously isn’t supposed to be likable, and that’s fine. As an antihero, we’re not really supposed to like him. But it really does seem as if Japanese storytelling is lagging far behind Western scribes in the world of video games. These characters – especially the one-track-minded Miss Monday with massive breasts and zero actual charm – are mired in ridiculous stereotypes and the worst part is, this isn’t tongue-in-cheek. They’re trying to be serious. The dialogue is dumb and we don’t care about the characters because every last one is frustratingly one-dimensional.