Remembering back to the glory days of gaming when I was just a youngster, there were lots of games I absolutely loved. In the NES era, where it all started, I can list several of games I played over and over again, because I loved them so much. Everything from the Super Mario Bros. games, the Mega Man games, Duck Tales, Tecmo Super Bowl ... the list goes on and on.
But there were a few games that I played, I wanted to love for every reason imaginable, but because they were so difficult and frustrating, they have left scares on my gaming soul. The short list includes, but is not limited to, Battletoads, The Adventures of Dino Riki and of course, the Ninja Gaiden games.
I shudder each time I think about the frustration those damn games gave me as a kid. Yet as frustrating as they were, I didn't put any less time in them as I did the games I could fly through. This is especially true for the Ninja Gaiden games.
(By the way, is it pronounced "Guy-den" or "Gay-den"? I've heard both pronunciations over the years, and I can never remember. Anyway...)
I remember the Ninja Gaiden games as clear as can be, too. From the title of the game having the Japanese characters in place of the "Gaiden", with that just shifted below it, to the amazing music, the awesome ninja moves, the cinematic cut scenes ... and the difficulty. Oh, the difficulty.
I honestly don't know if I ever beat them without the help of Game Genie. Remember Game Genies? Damn, were those not the coolest things ever? How did anyone ever get the codes for those things, anyway? If a friend didn't know them, you were shit out of luck. We didn't have the luxury of quick Google searches back then.
Game Genies .... wow.
Anyway, those games were annoyingly hard. So when they decided to reboot the franchise back on the original Xbox, I stayed clear. I couldn't bring myself to even try them. Well, they have kept making the new Ninja Gaiden games, and thanks to this blog, I was able to conquer my fears and finally give a new-school rendition of Ryu Hayabusa a shot. Let's just say, some things are better as just memories.
I decided to play Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, which was a launch-day game for the Wii U. The fact that this game is even on a Nintendo platform is nothing short of amazing, because while the Wii had a few gory hack-and-slash games, the company isn't exactly known for being M-rated games friendly. And trust me, this game earns it's rating tenfold.
Right off the bat, flying through the air and landing with a Katana slice right through the head of my first bad guy, my character screaming, "FUCK YOU!" as the blood pours out all over the screen, I knew I was in for a wild ride. The storyline? I don't know, I just skipped through every cut scene possible, because they just didn't interest me. They immediately reminded me of House of the Dead games cut scenes, and not in a good way.
Skip. Skip. Skip. Didn't even think twice about it.
The blood continued to flow. The enemies continued to come at me, only to be decapitated after several limbs were lopped off, left in a lifeless piles of mutilated flesh. Pretty gross, right? Yeah, it got old quickly, too. The bosses were average, but nothing special about them. The fancy GamePad controls for the Wii U? uninspired and more of a distraction then anything.
So how was the game play? Was it hard? Was the game as memorable as the very first ones? Well, funny thing is, I had to play it on easy, because every other difficulty I was getting absolutely destroyed. So yeah, the difficulty is there. But not because it's a hard game to figure out and be smart about, it's just ruthless and relentless. By turning the franchise into a hack-and-slash, the precision skills required have diminished in importance. It's now just about how well you can string combos together and remember to block and move.
I was bored. It doesn't hold a candle to how awesome the original games were. Whether that be a nostalgic bias or just the plain, hard truth, it needs to be said. It's a decent effort, but I found not connection whatsoever to the game.
You know how good a game is when all it makes you think about is how awesome Game Genies were back in the day.
Good try, Nintendo. I admire you for offering a game like this on your new, amazing system. But it was your first offerings of this franchise on your first console that won my heart and caused me heartbreak a long time ago. Please don't even think about rebooting the Dino Riki franchise, though ... I might seriously have an anxiety fueled heart attack.
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