SOME games are so tough that they batter you until you are closing to switching off the machine and throwing in the towel.
A generation of gamers believed nothing was tougher than the Ninja Gaiden series. It had rock-solid arcade roots way in 1988 and the Xbox reboot in 2004 meant the name Ryu Hayabusa would strike fear into even the most skilled of players.
It has now been seven years since the last Ninja Gaiden title – the so-called black sheep of the family: Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. And it’s been even longer since Hayabusa was the starring lead.
So it’s the right time for Tecmo to give the series a new lease of life with Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection. It combines Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Sigma 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge into one tweaked package.
We were lucky enough to grab a chat with Fumihiko Yasuda, the Head of Team NINJA and director of the Nioh series.
What can fans expect in the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection? Has any new content been added? And which of the three games has had the most work?
We’ve managed to improve the resolution and stabilise the frame rate to match the improvements in hardware specs. Specifically, 4K resolution and 60FPS for PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One X, Xbox Series X/S and Steam when the hardware and system requirements are met, although during gameplay there might be temporary drops in resolution and frame rate.
And while online multiplayer isn’t included, we’ve made Tag Missions playable in single player mode, and some of the unreasonably difficult parts have been adjusted. But be warned that we haven’t made any adjustments that make the game easier to clear, so we hope everyone is up for the challenge! Finally, costumes not only from the original games but also ones added to the Sigma Plus and Sigma 2 Plus games, are included in this collection.
Since we wanted to maintain the integrity of the original games, we have not added any new content. But in terms of the most work… well, Ninja Gaiden Sigma is the oldest and was the one that took the most work to implement on the recent platforms.
5 Fumihiko Yasuda, the Head of Team NINJA and director of the Nioh series.
Why bring the series back as a collection instead of just a remaster of the first game? Are there plans to have the collection come to next-generation consoles as standalone releases or downloadable update?
Well, the Ninja Gaiden series along with the Dead Or Alive series are Team NINJA’s signature franchises. It’s been on our minds for a long time that the Ninja Gaiden series hasn’t been available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One generation of hardware. The timing worked out well for us since we had just completed work on Nioh 2. It’s also the first time the series will be available for PC, so we hope many players will give it a try.
In addition, the number of staff at Team NINJA who are of the generation that grew up playing Ninja Gaiden is slowly increasing, so we wanted this to be an opportunity for them to get involved.
We do not have any plans on releasing an upgrade for the next-gen consoles. We would need to do a complete remake. We did consider it, but we really wanted to make these games available so that players can get their hands on them sooner than later.
We would prefer to create a new game instead of spending that time on a remake.
5 The Master Collection has 3 games from the Ninja Gaiden series in one title.
Is there anything you wish you were able to add that didn’t make it in?
Since they are classic games, there are individual actions and specific details in the stage settings that I could fuss over – but if we were to change these elements, they would have ended up becoming very different games. Ultimately, we decided to preserve the integrity of the original series.
5 Those who like a challenge in gaming will get the most from the Master Collection.
In a post Dark Souls world do you think Hayabusa can reclaim his crown as one of the most challenging games ever? And how do you think the Dark Souls generation will take to the game?
Definitely! I also think that it absolutely meets the expectations of this generation of players. The action is timeless, and while current masocore games can offer another chance for players even after dying, and provide options outside of head-on battle, the Ninja Gaiden series requires players to clearly improve their skills in order to survive.
The stoic nature of the gameplay is something that I think will feel fresh to the Souls-gen community.
5 You’ll fight a real mix of bad guys across all three games.
Which of the three games do you think is the most challenging? Have you finished it? Any tips for newcomers?
Each game is difficult in its own way, but I think Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is the most challenging.
It’s hard to perform Izuna Drops on many enemies, and there are no recovery items so it requires precise gameplay with little room for error. Above that, the bold action sequences enhance the feeling of intensity and exhilaration.
5 It has been seven years since the last Ninja Gaiden title.
Hayabusa has been a bit of a master of cross-overs – popping up in a number of games. Could we see him in Super Smash Bros or Fortnite off the back of the Collection?
If Hayabusa could appear in Super Smash Bros… I’d be thrilled! We’re still waiting for our invite!
How has the pandemic affected the development of the Master Collection?
At first there was some confusion when transitioning to working from home. But eventually we have all adapted to this new work structure.
We’ve managed to construct various tools and workflow systems for sharing, so while there were some changes to overcome, it didn’t have a completely detrimental effect on development.
With Team NINJA having success with Nioh and Dead Or Alive since we last saw a full Ninja Gaiden game, could we see Ninja Gaiden 4? Or would you be more focused on another IP?
We have always been thinking about this important series, so if there are any advancements we will be sure to let you know!
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All families have a black sheep so to say and yours has to be Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. Do you feel it was a mistake for the series? Or is it just a product of its time? Will it ever get the HD treatment?
An HD version of Yaiba is pretty unlikely… In hindsight, I think parts of Yaiba’s game direction and concept didn’t fit with the overall series. But, because of that experience, we were able to create the Nioh franchise.
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