Ninja Gaiden Master Collection Review

June 10, 2021

The Ninja Gaiden games have a long history in the medium, building a reputation over decades for rock-hard challenge and thrilling ninja spectacle. Ryu Hayabusa, master ninja, has cut a swathe through thousands of rival meatsacks in his time and now Koei Tecmo has brought some of his adventures together in Ninja Gaiden Master Collection for PS4, Switch, Xbox One and PC. The collection isn’t quite as definitive as the word ‘master’ would imply, but there’s still a great deal of shruiken-throwing, katana-dodging fun to be had here.

The Ninja Gaiden Master Collection collects three games – Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. All DLC costumes and modes are included, with the notable exception of the online modes in Ninja Gaiden 2 and 3. In addition, out of the box Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Sigma 2 do not include gore and decapitation features – these are only unlocked after a free Day One patch to bring them back to PS3 levels. If you spring for the ‘Deluxe Edition’ you’ll also get a neat digital artbook and soundtrack.

There’ll be fan disagreement on what are the superior versions of these games, especially as the Sigma-edition games are previously-PS3 exclusive remakes of games that existed on Xbox, and that the developers have admitted the code for the original games (and Ninja Gaiden Black) has been lost. It also feels like there are some other missing elements you’d want for a Master Collection, such as the original Arcade release or the trilogy of games for the NES that formed the basis of its popularity in the early 90’s, or even the DS game. We’ve seen other recent collections like Mega ManCastlevania and Contrreach back to their earliest days, and it’s disappointing this isn’t as comprehensive as it could have been.

As is, the clear standout of the collection is Ninja Gaiden Sigma, as it remains my favourite of the revival trilogy. It’s a little strange going back to it after the more recent ninja-type games like Sekiro have features like lock-on, which is nowhere to be found here, making you solely responsible for the accuracy of your attacks as you dodge, block and look for openings to deal with the waves of enemies the game throws at you. Bosses are tough, but never feel unfair, and the game has such a rapid speed to it that it still feels refreshing even today. Even though this is the Sigma release for PS3, unfortunately the game still feels graphically dated beyond those years, and not much has been done to bring the game up any modern standards.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 moves the action from the fortresses and villages of the original, to modern Tokyo city, and introduces new weapons like the Dragon’s Claw, Tonfa and Falcon’s Talons. It’s a fine follow-up to Ninja Gaiden but this Sigma version also makes alterations to the original Ninja Gaiden 2‘s gameplay, with reduced enemy counts and no Tests of Valor. The excessive gore and dismemberment was also toned down for this version as well, which is more a creative choice than it is a real problem with the game in my opinion, but one that always felt a little odd given how much that original version played it up. I also got some weird occasional frame-rate drops playing the PS4 version on PS5.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is the weakest of the trilogy, mainly due to repetitive and dull linear environments and enemies. However, the combat system is solid and visually it looks the best in the package, with some great character models on Ryu and his friends. While it can still be challenging, it also feels unfair at times, like occasional enemies unleashing unavoidable suicide explosive attacks, and a camera system that limits your field of view, outside of which most enemies love to attack you.

If you’re an Xbox Ninja Gaiden fan and never tried the Sigma games, then this collection might be a nice way to complement your collection, given that you can already play the excellent original Ninja Gaiden II and Ninja Gaiden Black on the platform. For everyone else, this collection is far from comprehensive, but it does include two great classic action games (albeit, different versions of them), and a third that might be more of a love it/hate it affair. The package is at a reasonable AU $59.95 price online, or AU $75.95 for the Deluxe Edition. It’s just a shame that there’s so much this package could have included, and doesn’t, although some of that may have been out of the developer’s hands. However, for a newcomer to Ninja Gaiden, the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection is action-packed, challenging and  an effective way to get into the franchise.


-Ninja Gaiden is still an action-packed, tough but fair challenge
-Ninja Gaiden 2 is also still a rollicking good time


-Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge is still a disappointing follow-up
-No retro inclusions like the NES or Arcade games included
-The collection only includes the Sigma versions of the first two games, no online

Overall Score: