Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (PS3 review)

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I was excited when I got a chance to play the new Ninja Gaiden game. I played the past Ninja Gaiden iterations and they were fun and frustrating at the same time. Fun because of all the cool stuff you can do as well as the different weapons. Frustrating because some of the things were just so hard to do and made you think of how to approach the enemy. So I expected the same thing for this game. But I was sadly mistaken.

If you were expecting to play as Ryu Hayabusa you will be disappointed. This takes a very different route from the previous games. Instead we are introduced to Yaiba; for every Ryu Hayabusa, we get a handful of Yaiba. They are talented but lack something that would put them into the same category as Ryu. And that’s what we have here.


Visually this game looks amazing. I do like the 3D cell-shading look this game has going for it. The comic book-style storytelling is very cool, and the different bosses and mini-bosses you fight are just as interesting. There is a zombie clown who can dual wield knives, and if you beat him using the correct button sequence, you get to use his arms as weapons temporarily. (They are called “Nunchuckles”.) It’s also very raunchy and disturbing on some parts, with B-movie types of jokes.


The gameplay though has changed and is now mostly a slasher/button-mashing game with a hint of strategy behind it. This game is mostly about level clearing and boss battles. It was fun for the first couple of hours, but afterwards it just got too repetitive for me. I love a good slasher game as much as the next guy, but I just could not get behind this one. Maybe it’s because I expected a different type of game.

This game would also benefit by having different weapons available and a better leveling system. It only upgrades the very minimum of what you have. Fighting zombies are easy, but fighting the mini-bosses can be hard, since they can kill you with just a couple of strikes (and that was infuriating). Some of the stages have ridiculous setups, for example, there are some areas where you will have to wall jump and dodge obstacles to continue. I was amazed I got through the crazy ones (after 5-6 tries).


There would be 3-4 mini bosses in one sitting with minions all around, and the camera does not help in some of these situations. It would randomly pull out and change angles, which got me in many unfortunate situations. Yaiba’s main antagonist was my most-hated boss battle. I died more times fighting him than I did throughout the whole game, and it felt like it went downhill from there.

Speaking of strikes, the combos are visually cool to see, but I mostly stuck to one type due to its effectiveness. I guess you can’t have that diverse of a combo system if you have the same weapons throughout the whole game. This is where having different weapons would come in handy, just like in past Gaiden games.

This game is visually pleasing and beautiful, but it lacks quite a few things. If you like 3D cell-shading and want a good time waster, this is your game. Though at this price I would wait for a sale.

Grade: D

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