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Ninja Gaiden 3

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Someone in the games industry needs to reexamine what a curse is.

Transcript Edit

You know, being the head of an evil ninja clan - oops, shit. Uh, forget I said that. I'll start again.

(Clears throat)

You know, if I were the head of an evil ninja clan, I know exactly how I'd deal with Ryu Hayabusa if he was after me. I'd immediately infect all my low-level troops with HIV. Not overtly so they hate me for it; I'd probably just secrectly pay someone to rape them on the way out of the meeting. Then once they're at the acceptance stage and are getting kind of philosophical about it, they'd firstly be a lot more gung ho about being sent to their almost certain death, but when Ryu Hayabusa the human sanitary towel drenches himself in their blood, all it takes is one drop on the surface of the eyeball and he's Lifetime Movie of the Week.

Well, the baddies in Ninja Gaiden 3 had a similar idea to this kick-ass one, but instead of infecting Ryu with a sensible terminal illness they infect him with a magical curse that makes his arm go all weird and gives him the ability to go banana nut butters and instantly slaughter a bunch of dudes berserk style. Wait, that's not a curse at all. Hey, assholes! Ever thought of setting up a suggestion box? So yes, Ryu Hayabusa has a grotesque swollen arm covered in hideous exposed veins. So imagine how bad it looks after he gets cursed! *weak laugh*

When a terrorist group takes the British government hostage and specifically asks for Hayabusa by name, the Japanese Self-Defense Force - acting, I would think, slightly outside their remit - send Hayabusa in to sort everything out with the end of his pokey stick. Apparently originating in England, all the soldiers of the evil organization have broad Cockney accents, which I can now declare is officially the worst possible accent with which to repeatedly use the word "ninja." It soon transpires that this terrorist group has plans that reach a lot wider than postponing Prime Minister's question time, and after giving Hayabusa the world's worst sleeve tattoo they start taking over the world and all that.

And now that one bloke from Team Ninja who put women in the same column as furniture polish and dog grooming implements (allegedly) has been given the heave-ho, the main female character is actually a sensibly dressed spunky professional single mother, rather than a big lump of Play-Doh in about one-quarter of a leather fetish outfit. There is another female character whose top half is constantly making escape attempts, but baby steps, people.

But that's not the only significant change Ninja Gaiden has undergone. I'd swear it's starting to take a few cues from Call of Duty, of all things. You fight terrorists in ski masks through a major international city, then there's a bit in the Middle East as well. It even does that thing on the loading screen where it indicates our next location on the world map like a diligent scrapbooker preparing to bore people shitless about their last holiday. After a while, though, it starts losing interest and moves on to taking cues from Resident Evil instead, and Ryu has to slash through giant laboratories full of mutated human monsters and a bunch of cloned dinosaurs of all Michael Crichton legal action-tempting things. It's like the series feels like it's lost so much identity from cutting out the leather-clad titty monsters that it's grabbing scripts and scraps from anything that it thinks people seem to like these days, trying to find a new niche, before it throws up its hands, gives ups, explodes all over the bedspread, and you spend the last few moments fighting a giant, city-destroying naked woman clutching a broadsword. Well, good try, Team Ninja. You almost held out.

Call of Duty is the gaming equivalent of a row of cut-out paper men with massive guns and tiny, flaccid cocks. The combination of regenerating health and gameplay that never significantly evolves beyond an unnecessarily flashy and racist update of Space Invaders turns it into essentially a string of dull, identical battles virtually unconnected to each other. And while it was borrowing terrorists and loading screens, Ninja Gaiden 3 noticed this and said to itself: "Gonna get me some of that!" And so, of course, your health regenerates, and of course you never acquire any other weapons besides the sword, nor can you upgrade it or acquire new abilities with it. So you could conceivably figure out the dash uppercut aerial combo piledriver move in the very first level and basically it's all over bar five or six hours of watching the same somersault over and over again,hearing Ryu go "Huah!" like an insecure man at the gym, and setting off the same four or five one-liners from the enemies with such regularity that on several occasions they were taunting in almost perfect unison like a murderous a cappella troupe. Oh, sure, you might be hacking limbs off with a ninja sword, but repetition makes it just as bland as pop-up shooting galleries, and Ninja Gaiden 3 fails to take the only lesson it should have taken from Call of Duty, which is to portray people with British accents evenhandedly.

In other circumstances, I might have praised a game for effectively streamlining itself like this. Lord knows I thought Ninja Gaiden II's shopping cart approach to weaponry was a bit much. And it's refreshing for a game like this to not have RPG elements for once. There's a lot to be said for a hack-and-slash game that gives you all the abilities at the very start and lets you figure them out naturally. But that only works if you have more abilities than "hit with sword," "hit with sword again," and two cop-out "fuck you" attacks.

For example, when your power bar gets full, you can make a big fire dragon appear and chomp everyone. The game establishes that you regenerate more health back if your power bar is still full after fights, and I assumed this was meant to encourage you not to be a massive cheapskate asshole who has to call his dragon friend to beat up the school bullies. But then I noticed that doing the dragon thing also makes all your health come back. I guess he tosses you a couple of Nutri-Grains while he's sorting out the baddies for you. So an attack that was once merely cheap is now actively paying you money to use it. And this isn't even mentioning the other cop-out "fuck you" attack where Ryu just automatically kills five lads, if you're bored of the whole "game" thing and want to take a break and eat some chips while violence happens in baffling extreme close-up.

Okay, before the pedantry brigade mount up, it's not all exactly the same thing. Sometimes you have to climb a wall by mashing the shoulder buttons like you're playing a miniature accordion. And sometimes the game rather laughably pretends to have a stealth mechanic by spawning one bloke facing the wrong way that you can instakill if you don't nod off while sneaking up. And there's the odd colorful boss fight, including one memorable encounter with a clone T-Rex whose vulnerable moment comes when he trips over his own feet and falls over with no input required on your part. God forbid this unstoppable bioweapon be unleashed. How could it possibly be defeated except by locking it in a room by itself with a sharp object?

Which leads me to my final point: Ninja Gaiden 3 is too easy. This is like a Final Fantasy game being too short. Actually, scratch that. It's like a Final Fantasy game being too good. It's the sky falling in on our heads. Stunlock an enemy by mashing quick attack, and if he breaks your combo dash out of the way until he's done embarrassing himself. What was one of the last bastions of actual challenge has succumbed to the greasy ever-expanding ovarian cyst that AAA gaming has left untreated for so long that it now has to buy it extra seat for it when it travels economy class.

AddendaEdit

He can fly for no discernable (sic) reason: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

You know there's a pretty broad line between efficient combat skills and blatant showing off

My name's John Weaver and here's my friend Bill Nindger


ScreenshotsEdit

Ninja Gaiden 3 2

Banana nut butters

Ninja Gaiden 3 3

The worst possible accent with which to repeatedly use the word "ninja"

Ninja Gaiden 3 4

Of all Michael Crichton legal action-tempting things.

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
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2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart

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