June 18, 2021 — Team Ninja may be secretly working on the sequel to 2012’s Ninja Gaiden 3, but players still need a way to scratch that shinobi itch. June 9 saw the Steam release of the popular franchise’s latest outing.
Thankfully, KOEI TECMO American has worked with the series’ Japanese developer to piece together and release Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection which includes the Team Ninja trilogy — Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. While having access to the Ninja Gaiden series on newer consoles is never a bad thing, the Master Collection may not be something players will rave about as it fails to impress. Having been available only on consoles up until now, PC retro gamers can now get the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection on Steam where it launched on June 9.
“Master Collection is not a complete stumble. The original trilogy is comprised of fantastic games that deserve to be played, and access on the Switch, PS4, and Windows is definitely a win.”
Sure, you may have wanted KOEI TECMO to somehow sneak in a port of the 1988 classic, but the Master Collection does bring together three action-packed masterclass adventures featuring everyone’s favorite shinobi, Ryu Hayabusa. Released on all last-gen consoles and Steam, the collection features most DLC and game modes, though multiplayer features have been completely left out. Players will be able to create a tag-team of devastating ninja-power as Ryu is joined by the heroines of Ninja Gaiden — Ayane, Rachel, Kasumi, and Momiji.
As exciting as Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection sounds, there are a few irks worth noting. If you have already played the original trilogy to completion, this collection provides nothing new. Team Ninja and KOEI TECMO opted not to improve any aspect of the original titles, and no matter how good the games were when they first released, they struggle to keep up with modern technology. Ninja Gaiden Sigma, which is an updated version of 2004’s Ninja Gaiden, is 14 years old and shows its age with infrequent framerate studders and visual artifacts. Sigma 2 and Razer’s Edge are a little younger but suffer from similar issues.
THE PRICE OF NINJAS
Master Collection is not a complete stumble. The original trilogy is comprised of fantastic games that deserve to be played, and access on the Switch, PS4, and Windows is definitely a win (thanks to backward compatibility, they have already been playable on the Xbox One.) That said, fans would surely have appreciated if the Master Collection would have received some development love like Team Ninja slapping “HD Remake” on with reworked multiplayer features.
One of the collection’s biggest missteps is its price. However, there are a few things to consider. First, none of these games are available on any of the mediums the collection was released on. So, unless you held onto your PS3 or Xbox 360, you won’t get your hands on Ninja Gaiden any other way. Second, even if you did have any of those consoles, finding a copy of Sigma 2 is going to set you back about half the price of the Master Collection. Again, the $40 price tag could have been justified with any sort of change, but it’s certainly not a detractor.
True fans of Ninja Gaiden will appreciate the Deluxe Edition for “only” $20 more. Though nothing changes with what games you get, the Deluxe Edition does feature a digital artbook and a soundtrack full of songs from the series’ past. A physical artbook would have been a nicer offering (and a reason for KOEI TECMO to charge more), but the soundtrack is the star of the limited edition. The question you have to ask yourself is whether music you can likely find on YouTube is worth $20 for easier access.
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is more of a marketing tactic than anything else. Nowadays developers must constantly be on their audience’s radar lest their IP fall into obscurity. We likely have some time before Ninja Gaiden 4 is even announced, so a simple trilogy collection released on consoles that are slowly nearing the end of their console cycles is a risk-free move to get people to talk about Ninja Gaiden again.
The Windows version of Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is available for purchase on Steam now for the rather steep price of $39.99/€39.99. Even if we are not out here offering ample praise, it is safe to say the Ninja Gaiden franchise is on our lips again.