Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge Review

Genre: Hack and Slash

Platform: Wii U

Developer: Team Ninja

Publisher: Tecmo Koei

Release Date: November 18th, 2012 (US)/ January 11th 2013 (Europe)

It’s been a while since Ryu Hayabusa slashed bad guy with his katana on a Nintendo home console: the series actually started on the 8 bit Nintendo Nes so Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is practically a true homecoming. The series has changed a lot during the years with modern Ninja Gaiden games being considered as the best hack and slash games ever released thanks to a good difficulty level and combat systems. Ninja Gaiden 3 was released during the first months of 2012 and was met with disappointment: the game suffered from many issues, mostly boring and repetitive gameplay and little variety in combat sequences. Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is an updated version of Ninja Gaiden 3, exclusive to Wii U featuring a lot of changes and additions, showing how Team Ninja actually paid attention to criticism. How did it turn out? Let’s find out together.

Hayabusa is back for murder

The plot is pretty much unchanged from the vanilla game: taking place some time after Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, Ryu Hayabusa gets cursed with a Grip Of Murder curse, influencing his mind and body, allowing him to kill anyone with a single touch: the curse’s effects are used to explore a more human side hidden inside Ryu while he fights some alchemist cult looking to destroy the world using Ryu itself. In Razor’s Edge there’s also an extra storyline starring Ayane from Dead Or Alive, nothing too exciting to be honest: the plot is nonsensical from start to end and no one will probably take it too seriously. At least the cutscenes are well presented also thanks to the voice overs: I’m a big fan of Troy Baker’s performances and he delivers once again.

Ninjas and Demons

Ninja Gaiden 3 gameplay was heavily criticized for being dull, uninspired and simply monotonous: any small adventure element in the game was removed, leaving only the combat sections. The problem was that even the combat sections were incredibly dull: too few weapons, enemy types and moves. There was no way to improve Ryu’s stats as well, making combat really pointless. Team Ninja listened to the fan’s reactions and actually tried to change something and in this regard, Razor’s Edge is way better than the vanilla game: downloadable weapons are available from the start and Dual Katanas and Lunar Staff have been added as new weapons; an all new upgrade system has been added, allowing players to improve Ryu’s stats and gain more combos and special moves. Ryu’s cursed hand mechanics have also been tweaked, reducing the number of possible kills with a single use of the hand; also, the slow sequences where Ryu can only use his hand to kill his enemies have been completely removed, replaced with more standard combat sequences with some special graphical effects. Combat has been made more challenging by improving the enemies’ AI, now being more aggressive than ever and a few new enemy types have been added. Ayane’s missions add some more variety thanks to her having her own skill set, even though the basics of the game remain unchanged. And this is probably the biggest problem of the game: every aspect of the game has received some polish, but the basic structure has remained totally unchanged in its being repetitive: walk some narrow corridors, enter an arena, kill enemies, rinse and repeat. The game is also still a button masher at heart: the action is way too fast and the enemies way too many to be able to use all the moves in Ryu’s and Ayane’s skill set. A shame, because everything else is finally going in the right direction.

Ryu’s newest weapon: the Gamepad

Gamepad’s use actually manages to improve the gameplay experience slightly: the touch screen can be used to access all the game’s menus in a quicker way and even to display attack combos. You can also access Ninpo Attacks and Ninja Sense by pressing the icons on the screen. Nothing is forced onto the player and this is a great thing: you can do everything the way you want to, without being forced to use the Gamepad or the Standard Controls. Playing the main game with the Gamepad actually feels easier on the hands, thanks to buttons’ placement: the game can also be played on the Pro Controller and it’s up to the player how they want to play the game.

A world painted red

Graphics wise, the game is pretty much identical to the vanilla version, except for something: more gore and more blood. I feel like this was a fans’ request that Team Ninja should have ignored: it’s really ridiculous at times seeing libs, heads and blood fly everywhere on the screen so often. It does not only reduce the dramatic effect of such scenes but it makes everything feel stupid since the extra gore has been badly implemented. It’s almost to the level of those gory, low budget, trash movies and it’s not a good thing at all.

Final Comments

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is, without a doubt, a good port since it’s more than a port: it’s an updated version which addresses many of the game’s issues. However, while almost everything has been tweaked and improved, the core gameplay remains the same dull experience of the other versions and it’s not enough to make players who already bought and disliked Ninja Gaiden 3 to buy this updated version. Players who still want to have a go at this game better try the game before buying it: it’s far from perfect but still enjoyable to some extent.


  • Ayane missions adds variety
  • New moves, skills and weapons
  • Cursed Hand usage has been toned down
  • No more slow sections
  • Good Gamepad’s use
  • Additional gore is ridiculous
  • Nonsensical plot
  • Core gameplay is left unchanged
  • Despite the additions, it’s still a repetitive experience

[xrr rating=6.0/10]

6.0 out of 10 

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