Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge review: The Wii U has arrived

Ninja Gaiden scoregraphicWhenever you have a brand new console on the market, the games launched with it are automatically graded on a scale, either intentionally or – at this point – simply by habit. You may love a game on whatever new system, but while holding that game under the microscope, you realize that part of the thrill is just the newness of it all. It’s fresh, because the console is fresh – even if the game itself may not withstand the next wave of releases.

There are exceptions, of course, but launch day (or launch window) titles tend to be risky. For every great new title that justifies the new system, there are two that were hastily assembled to create the illusion of available content range for when people shell out cash for their new console. It happens on every new gaming hardware system, and the Wii U is no different. Nintendo does have one huge advantage here though.

Launch window games tend to be quickly developed for the launch thanks in no small part to the need for secrecy leading up to the release, which limits the development time a game can have; A problem that is compounded by unfamiliarity with the system. But what if you could skip all that and release games that had healthy development cycles, then give them half a year of fine-tuning on top of it?

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's EdgeThis is our first Wii U review, but it is the beginning of a theme you may hear repeated often in the next few months. Several of the Wii U launch titles are re-releases of existing games, with a few twists to appeal to the new hardware. They are good, even great games have been given a polish. For Nintendo fans that only have the Wii, this is Christmas, and these games alone should keep you gleefully playing the Wii U for months. For the more dedicated gaming fan, this might be a moot point in favor of the Wii U; Many of the games are some of the biggest titles recently released so they’ve probably already been played by people who had any interest in them. And then there is a game like Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, which has been granted a new life, and revealed in it.

Ninja Gaiden 3 was originally released on PS3 and Xbox 360 in March, and it’d be kind to say that it was “flawed.” If you like, you can check out our full review here, but there isn’t a lot of point since it is a markedly better game now. The six months have been kind to Team Ninja, who overhauled the game and have created not just a good launch window game, but a good game, period.

The Director’s Cut

The story of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge remains inherently the same as the previous Ninja Gaiden 3. You play as the death dealing ultimate ninja, Ryu Hayabusa, whose total kill count borders on having him classified as an act of nature, or at least a weapon of mass destruction.

Upon investigating a hostage situation in London at the behest of the Japanese government, Ryu goes head-to-head with the group known as the Lords of Alchemy and is cursed with the “Grip of Murder.” This causes the odd slip into a murder filled dimension that occasionally pops up. 

NG3 Razors Edge - AyaneThe plot is the same as the previously released Ninja Gaiden 3 with one notable exception, the addition of playable sections starring the ninja Ayane. These new modes don’t significantly alter the game or the story, but they do deliver a good bit of variety as Ayane comes complete with her own move set. She can also be selected in the Chapter Challenges, and is available through the online co-op, which was sadly not available during the review period.

The story remains as convoluted and yet oddly entertaining. As we mentioned in the original NG3 review, there really is no reason for a cloned dinosaur with a headset like the Borg to attack you, but what the hell. It’s bloody, wild, completely over the top, and features women with breasts that operate under water balloon-like physics which border on misogyny (okay, not even border), but it all works under the rules created by the game.

Porting this game to the Wii U also signifies something interesting that we are seeing more of: Nintendo’s changing stance when it comes to mature games. Nintendo was never outright against mature games, but it never did anything to truly attract them either. With games like NG3 and ZombiU as featured launch titles, that seems to have changed.

Dress Like a Ninja, Kill Like a Plague

The gameplay remains Ninja Gaiden’s defining characteristic, for better and worse. It’s a hack and slash in the truest sense of the word, but it is also brutally, sadistically difficult. As you play you unlock abilities, new weapons (including three new weapons: dual katanas, the Kusari-gama chain weapon, and the awesome lunar staff that are all exclusive to the Wii U), and new moves that give you better options as you progress. This adds impressive depth to a demanding combat system. But while the scenery is varied and looks better than ever on the Wii U (albeit not significantly better), the enemy variety is still fairly weak. You will see the same soldiers and monsters repeated over and over and over again, and by the time you reach the seventh and final day, some eight hours in, you can’t help but feel the weight of repetition. The combat does keep things lively though.

NG3: REThe learning curve is steep, and it requires quick reactions, as well as a good TV to be able to track everything that’s going on during hectic fights against enemies that aren’t that differentiated from you. But once you do figure it out, each new battle is an experience and a challenge. You need to practice patience and perfect your block, but also be able to react and link combos quickly. If you want to test yourself, try the hardest setting. Beating it on that level will give you bragging rights for life. If that isn’t your thing, then there is no shame playing on the easiest setting. The main difference from it and the level above it is that you’re charged a penalty in your score when it auto-blocks for you. It is a challenging game. 

Like eating spicy foods, this is entirely down to personal tastes. The game is solid, and the Wii U port fixes numerous small problems like homicidal camera angles. It is, without question, what Team Ninja was hoping for with the previous version.

Introducing the GamePad

The highlight of the Wii U is, of course, the tablet-like GamePad. Each game will utilize it differently, and in the case of Razor’s Edge it offers more gameplay options, as well as additional information for your viewing pleasure. On the touchscreen, there are three buttons you will use often: The change weapon prompt, the Ninja Sense that guides you, and the Ninpo special attack. They simply make it easier to do what you already can with a controller. The Ninpo is the most useful, and when you power it up through combat the icon glows to signify that it’s ready.

Ninja-Gaiden-3-Razors-Edge reviewThe GamePad is ergonomically sound, but with games that have you constantly moving your fingers without mercy, you may consider switching to the new Wii U Pro Controller instead. Don’t consider this a negative against the game, however. We just thought it’s worth noting.

Online – Under Construction

During the review of this game, the Wii U’s full online functionality was not quite ready for prime time. The original version was something of a mess, with balance issues helping to highlight other problems. But since the rest of this game was polished so significantly, there is good cause to think the online has been refined as well. There is also the co-op, which is tantalizing.

Once the online is fully active, we will give it a full shake down and update this section (as well as the score, if necessary).

Conclusion

Ninja Gaiden 3 was a mess. It had technical problems, and it just didn’t work all that well. While this game is a port of that one, there is more than just a few new modes and inclusion of a new controller scheme. Razor’s Edge is a better game: Polished and reworked. It’s a second chance for Team Ninja, and one that they made the best of.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is still a hack and slash game with waves of identical enemies charging you endlessly. The combat is what makes this game, which is good, since that is pretty much all there is. Still, fun is fun. If you are among those looking for Wii U launch titles, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is among the strongest.

Score: 8 out of 10

ninja gaiden 3 razors edge review wii u reviews banner

 (This article has been updated to correct an omission pointed out to us by the reader, NanaO).

Product Review

Amazon's new Echo is smaller and cheaper; firmware upgrade improves sound

The all-new Echo is shorter, cuter, and comes with several different color and fabric choices. Our Amazon Echo review reveals that while the acoustics initially weren't great upon release, a firmware upgrade has improved the sound.
Gaming

Every rumor about the PS5, including a new game from Luminous Productions

PlayStation 5 rumors have been circulating for over a year now but there's still plenty we don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the PS5, including rumors about its release, specs, and games.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Home Theater

A recent Twitter leak may show the upcoming AirPods 2 model

Apple plans to release new AirPods much the same as it does new iPhones, and a wireless charging case, water resistance, and better Siri integration are among the improvements we can expect in future models.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ gifts perfect for the video game fan in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.
Gaming

‘Gears of War’ designer Cliff Bleszinski says he’ll never make another game

Cliff Bleszinski, the game designer best known for his work on the Gears of War series, says he will never make another video game. His studio, Boss Key Productions, shut its doors earlier this year.
Deals

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…
Computing

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.
Gaming

Nintendo and Microsoft say they’re all-in on E3 after Sony bows out of 2019 event

Shortly after Sony announced it will not participate in E3 2019 for the first time, Microsoft and Sony announced the show will go on as usual for each software giant. E3 2019 now presents a unique opportunity for Sony's major competitors.
Gaming

The best PS3 games of all time

Choosing the right PlayStation 3 game can be a conundrum, especially when there are nearly 1,500 titles to choose from. Thankfully, we've rounded up the best games to have ever made it to the platform.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

Microsoft is reportedly planning an Xbox One without a disc drive for 2019

Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a new Xbox One model without a disc drive in 2019. The console will be significantly cheaper than other Xbox One systems, including the Xbox One S.
Gaming

15 tips for keeping your vault-dwellers alive in ‘Fallout Shelter’

The wasteland can be an unfriendly place, if you don't know what you're doing. Here are 15 tips that will help your vault thrive in Fallout Shelter, including information on questing.