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REVIEW | Wii U’s “Ninja Gaiden” Has Upper, Rusty “Edge”

Posted on November 28, 2012 AT 11:51am

Earlier this year Tecmo Koei and Team Ninja released Ninja Gaiden 3, which was supposed to bring Ryu Hayabusa back to his roots. Instead we were given a game that was riddled with weak AI, and a few “pivotal” moments early that went in a direction that many considered to be anti-characteristic of Hayabusa’s code of ethics. (The part in Level 1 where Ryu cuts down a soldier pleading for his life was the lowest point in Ninja Gaiden‘s history.)

Fortunately Team Ninja has responded to our sour feelings in the best ways possible: by taking out the offending elements and replacing them with moments that made Ninja Gaiden what it was in the Wii U version. Does that mean Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is a better experience? Yes. Does it mean the game is now on par with its predecessors? Not quite.

By now you know the story of Ninja Gaiden 3. Evil alchemists, a curse on Ryu, the end of the world, Canna, the whole shebang. In Razor’s Edge we now get a little more back story in the form of two levels featuring Dead Or Alive‘s Ayane. Here she has a fighting style similar to that of Ryu’s, although I did tend to notice she has more power in regards to her style of attacks. Her levels showcase some beind-the-scenes intel that’s needed for Japan’s Self-Defense Force to take down the Lords of Alchemy. Although she only has two levels you will be able to control her in any level within the Chapter Challenge mode.

As the game progresses you will be able to collect karma for the Karma Counter, which can be used to upgrade weapons, Ninpo spells, and even learn new techniques that can help with restoring health. These upgrades will come in handy, especially when Ryu has to face off against the chimeras LOA generate. The AI is now tougher to defeat, compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions where a simple sword swipe cuts any soldier to size. However they can be more of a nuisance than a challenge to take care of, which can cause a little wear on your fingers.

Razor’s Edge is a button masher through-and-through. As I played I probably spent the majority of my time pressing the X and Y buttons to take down all the enemies (and there are a lot!). I found myself having to take breaks so my fingers could stop hurting enough to continue. I also don’t quite understand why this version of Ninja Gaiden 3 doesn’t have the motion controls found in the original PS3 version, as it would’ve been a perfect fit for the Wii MotionPlus (and no, I’m not counting Ayane’s “bouncy” motion controls).

The real question is how Ninja Gaiden 3 works with the GamePad. To be blunt, it’s decent. You can call your Ninpo, switch weapons, and even check the combo list to see what kind of maneuvers you can use. Honestly Ninja Gaiden 3 isn’t really the best game to show off touchscreen controls, so you really can’t judge Team Ninja for not thinking outside the box for this one.

There are still some issues with Razor’s Edge besides the button-mashing parts. For one it doesn’t really take advantage of Ryu’s stealth abilities. I can only recall during the first couple levels where the stealth came into play, but even then those moments were very brisk. Although the graphics look better here than they did on the other consoles there are a couple of times when the frame rate drops due to there being too many enemies on screen at once. It’s not too bad, though, and it can even showcase some of the cooler kills when it slows down just a pinch.

Lastly there’s the length of the game. I beat Ninja Gaiden 3 in roughly 6 1/2 hours, which really isn’t too bad, but for a game that was supposed to add a lot more into the single-player mode it’s still relatively short. Even though the Ayane levels they added make it a much longer game I would’ve expected to see at least four levels featuring her, not just two. Still the Chapter Challenges and online play will tack on a few more hours to the gameplay.


  • A much better Ninja Gaiden 3 than before
  • Ayane levels are fun, story-driven
  • Graphics look much better, crisper


  • Single player mode on the short side
  • Wiimote controls would’ve been nice
  • Not enough stealth elements


If you were to have to choose which system Ninja Gaiden 3 plays better on, the Wii U version wins no contest. It’s no longer the slap in the face it once was on the PS3 and Xbox 360, although it’s now just an okay game rather than a bad one. Ninja Gaiden continues to be a good series, but as they say the third in a series is usually the least-memorable. Hopefully when it comes time for the fourth Ninja Gaiden we will see the series back to form. For now Razor’s Edge is a good baby step in the right direction, away from the version we saw released on the other consoles earlier this year.

FINAL GRADE: 6.8 (out of ten)

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at

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