Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, taking the series to new comedic places

Yaiba ninja gaiden z pic 1

Looking back at Ninja Gaiden on the NES, it’s amazing how much they got away with. The cutscenes are quite serious and dire, including talk of sacrifice, and having characters depicted as dying. It was quite graphic for the time, considering that it was mostly children who played it. In general the series has taken itself seriously, despite the fact that there are bosses such as the armored, lightning gun-wielding one. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z seems intent on pushing more towards the lighthearted, even with all of its buckets of animated blood.

Yaiba ninja gaiden z pic 2

There are several aspects of the game that make it more focused on being lighthearted, which is a new direction for the series. For one thing, the protagonist is a zombie ninja who also happens to have a robotic arm. One of his moves allows him to power up his arm with rocket power, allowing players to still control him as he is slowly propelled forward. Upon unleashing the rocket power, Yaiba flies across the screen, exploding any weak enemies in his path.

In one cutscene, a zombie enemy finds himself in the driver’s seat of a steamroller. He quickly sees one of his zombie pals in the perilous path of the steamroller, but not having a voice, he motions frantically to get his friend to move out of the way in time (he doesn’t). It’s this type of scene that I hope will be peppered throughout the game when it releases.

Yaiba ninja gaiden z zombie arm nunchucks

Not to be content with standard swords, spears and the like, Yaiba crafts weapons too. In the demo he made a pair of nunchucks out of some zombie limbs. They were great at taking out large groups of enemies. There were other hints of weapons sure to make an appearance in the game as well.

Knowing that Keiji Inafune (the creator of the Mega Man series) was producing the game, and seeing that the main character had a robotic arm, my mind quickly jumped to a conclusion: this character can probably swap his arm for something else. I was right apparently, as my suspicion was confirmed by the producer at E3. I wasn’t able to see it in the demo, but the plan is for Yaiba to be able to gain new arms after defeating certain enemies. Whether or not he can switch these arms quickly during combat remains to be seen.

Yaiba ninja gaiden z pic 4

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is an action game that requires some crowd control at times, and some focused dodging at others. Possibly taking a note from Bayonetta’s core gameplay, Yaiba can slow down time if he gets his timing just right. Most of the game seems to consist of fighting sequences with a bit of comedy spliced in. There are platforming sections as well, but they don’t add any excitement to the game since they’re mostly automated with a bit of quick-time thrown in. Players have a special vision mode to figure out which object they need to interact with to get to the next section, but I hope these parts are all done quickly with no poor puzzles attached. Other than the platforming, the game seems to be shaping up to be a fun and worthy offshoot for the Ninja Gaiden series.

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>