Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Developer: Team Ninja/Spark Unlimited
Release Date: 2/28/2014
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The Ninja Gaiden series is very beloved to longtime fans. The reboot for Xbox was considered one of the hardest games ever made at the time and required extremely precise skill. Yaiba is a spin-off of the series and takes a kind of comical take on it. This isn’t exactly good. Taking the helm is a studio notorious for terrible games like Legendary. That game was considered the worst game made that year. Spark Unlimited has a lot to live up to and I’ll cut this short: they don’t live up to it.
The Z stands for zombies. Yes, and you don’t even play as Ryu Hayabusa. In fact, you play as someone he’s killed who gets a robotic arm and wants to seek revenge. He’s accompanied by a busty hot intelligent woman who relays your objectives to you. The story is pretty throwaway, but Ninja Gaiden is known for fantastic combat. Yaiba has a good combat system, but the game relies on fighting way too much and doesn’t break up the monotony.
A weak, powerful, and flail attack are all available. The fighting is lightning fast, but sometimes way too fast. Zombies are represented by comedic puns and act just as stupid. Life is acquired by performing a finishing move on a stunned zombie. The gore and finishing moves are cool but only the first 5 times. The rest of the game is made up of overly easy parkour that is performed with quick-time events. The boss fights are slightly more interesting but not by much.
The combat gets hard in the sense that it feels unbalanced. Some enemies can disable your flail arm, sometimes too many are thrown on you, and there’s a really irritating knockback animation that can’t be interrupted. Occasionally the environment can be interacted with, but I honestly saw the same patterns on the second level. This game could have been so much more, but it turns out to be a frustrating unbalanced joke.
The graphics also take on a comic book style which is way different from the traditional Japanese art style seen in the other games in the series. They also look technically unimpressive with ugly low-res textures. Most fans will be highly disappointed in a game bearing the Ninja Gaiden name and not be taking it seriously. Maybe a more talented developer could have done better, but what’s here is something that never should have been.