Early Review Scores Eviscerate Ninja Gaiden 3

Resurrected in 2004, Ninja Gaiden set a benchmark for third-person action combat that has rarely been touched since. Ninja Gaiden Black, the revised and expanded edition of the game, clocks in at an astonishing 94 on Metacritic. 2008 follow-up Ninja Gaiden II, while not quite as impressive, has a respectable 81 average score.

After the release of the second game, however, Series mastermind Tomonoba Itagaki and publishers Tecmo Koei had a widely publicized fall-out. Itagaki left developers Team Ninja, taking a number of other staff members with him. New director Yosuke Hayashi took over production.

Judging from the early response to Ninja Gaiden 3, Itagaki’s departure had a disastrous effect on the quality of Ninja Gaiden 3, which is currently holds 60 and 61 Metacritic averages on PS3 and XBOX, respectively.

  • IGN’s Mitch Dyer gave the game a 3/10, citing “shallow combat, a misguided narrative focus, and awful pacing.” He calls the story “meaningless,” and bemoans the lack of difficulty in a series that use to put so much emphasis on challenge. “Erratic and unreliable targeting” is another contrast to previous games, in which combat is extremely precise. Multiplayer, currently dependent on an online pass (which some players can’t get to work correctly) is described as not “just tacked-on or superfluous, it’s also plain bad.” His devastating closing comments are worth quoting in full:

    “Ninja Gaiden 3 is a gash on the face of the franchise and one of the worst games the action genre has yet suffered. It has no consideration for its fans’ wants or what a new audience may have enjoyed. It’s a nightmare that’s as easy as it is uninteresting, and it abandons what used to work for awful new ideas that don’t work together. Under no circumstance should you ever waste your time on this self-indulgent and abysmal wreck.”

  • Videogamer.com author Martin Gaston gives the game a 5/10, arguing that it “strays from the series’ true calling.” He complains about cut-scenes full of “nonsensical twaddle” and the fact that protagonist Ryu Hayabusa is limited to the use of a single weapon for the entirety of the game. Most damning is Gaston’s claim that “you can pretty much get through most of the game’s standard normal difficulty by just mashing your regular attack button over and over,” which seems to belie the entire point of the Ninja Gaiden series.
  • In their 4.9/10 review, NowGamer calls Ninja Gaiden 3′s combat “wooly and unsatisfying” and “an exercise in attrition rather than skill.” The game’s omnipresent QTE’s come in for persistent criticism. Distressingly for fans, NowGamer claims that “there’s never any actual sense of satisfaction from playing Ninja Gaiden 3; it’s the gaming equivalent of the trophies children now get from simply participating in a sports event at school, rather than actually winning them.” The review ends by concluding that the game “just isn’t entertaining to play”

How sad to see a once-great franchise take a big step on the road to ruin. Stay tuned for Game Front’s own Ninja Gaiden 3 review.

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5 Comments on Early Review Scores Eviscerate Ninja Gaiden 3


On March 20, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Shame shame shammmmmmmmmme!


On March 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Oh boy. I have a friend who just started playing this the other day. He’s a pretty big Ninja Gaiden fan. Looks like i’d better prepare for the inevitable fallout.


On March 21, 2012 at 1:48 am

So… these are entirely different impressions to mine. It looks like a lot of fun to me. The cut scenes (so far) have had genuine philosophy in them (I’m a philosophy student), which I guess went *way* over the heads of the reviewers. The villain’s monologues were hitting all the right notes for me.

I get that the limitations on health and mana made the game more challenging and fun before, but after several games with such hard restrictions, it’s nice for a bit of relaxation now (I predict they’ll go back to the old system next game).

The characters are presented *much* more completely as people compared to games 1 and 2- my only gripe is the enemies cries of fear get a little repetitive. I’m not sure I *want* to have a conniseur’s choice of screams, myself. As for the long fights; Ryu has actual genuinely skilful opponents this time. It makes sense they could tie him up long enough to get reinforcements. If endurance and valour are your thing, the fights will be fun.

So , yeah. I have no idea why the critics savaged it like they did. I think it’s grand. Not as good as before, but not by much :D


On March 21, 2012 at 2:40 am

I guess Itagaki not being there actually made a difference heh.


On March 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Ooooh a philosophy student your cool…

This game has definitely lost its identity. The challenging gameplay is long gone and replaced with some cookie cutter combat system that my little brother can destroy…on Master Ninja haha.

Ninja Gaiden 3 Sesame Street Edition is a more fitting title IMO…: