A masterful collection that’s perfect for ninja fans
Back in the day, Ninja Gaiden was always synonymous with Nintendo. The original trilogy on the NES is still beloved by countless fans, and the legendary ninja, Ryu Hayabusa, has become one of the most iconic retro characters of the era. However, when it came time to reboot the series for a new audience in the early 2000s, Nintendo fans mostly missed the boat when it came to Ryu’s new adventures. Thankfully after all these years, Nintendo fans finally get to experience the modern Ninja Gaiden trilogy as part of the Master Collection on Switch.
The Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is a compilation of Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge. While Razor’s Edge initially launched on the Wii U, this release marks the first time Sigma and Sigma 2 have been released on a Nintendo platform. All three of these games are the updated versions of the original trilogy, which added new modes, additional costumes, and special moves, while improving the overall gameplay and combat experience. Most of the additional content is accounted for in the Switch release, with a few glaring omissions. Sigma 2 and Razor’s Edge have had all of the online multiplayer modes stripped from this release. The lack of the online modes, such as Team Missions and Ninja Trials, are bizarre exclusions, especially in a package being advertised as the definitive way to play these titles.
For Switch owners, the Master Collection might be the first time they get to experience the modern Ninja Gaiden trilogy. Instead of being action-platformers, like the NES games, the modern trilogy consists of level-based action games, much like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. Fans of those series will be right at home with the Master Collection, and each one is a great action game that stands well on its own. Ninja Gaiden Sigma, while certainly aging the most and feeling clunky at points, is still a great time. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, though, is the clear highlight of this package. The visuals look great and the action is far more fast paced and refined than Sigma 1. Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge is often considered to be the black sheep of the franchise, and while it struggles to reach the highs of the Sigma games, it is still a fun action game in its own right. Newcomers be warned, though: the modern games are just as difficult as the original NES titles. While there are difficulty options available, none of these new games will be a walk in the park. That being said, if you’re willing to put in the work to master the games, you will have a great time.
One glaring disappointment with this rerelease is the way it is being bundled. Unlike Super Mario 3D All Stars, which neatly bundles three Mario games and their soundtracks together into a single game, Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection instead opts to give you access to three separate games, one for each release. All the additional bonus content you might expect would be included, such as concept art, is only made available in the deluxe edition of the game. For a collection that is meant to be celebrating Ryu’s modern history, it stings that an art book and soundtrack is being locked behind another paywall.
Outside of the complaints on how the compilation is being sold, the overall presentation is very smooth.The three Ninja Gaiden games included in the Master Collection look and run great on Switch, especially in handheld mode. There is some minor slow down when huge groups of enemies are on screen, especially in Sigma 2, but nothing that breaks the pace. The only major issue comes from the auto save system, which will sometimes freeze the game when opening and closing the shop menu in Sigma 1. It never lasted longer than a few seconds, but it was enough to deter me from opening the shop at times.
The Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is a solid package. The three games included in this collection are all enjoyable action games and well worth your time. While there are some issues with this release, such as the absence of all the online modes and the locking of bonus content behind the deluxe edition, they ultimately don’t detract from the core single player experience at the heart of the package. If you are a fan of action games, especially ones where you get to play as a ninja, and you have yet to try the modern Ninja Gaiden games out, you should pick up this bundle right away.