Overall - 30%
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is a terrible disappointment. The heart and soul that made Ninja Gaiden so popular has been sucked out, leaving a shallow husk of a game. It’s best not to mess with Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z -- it’s already been zombified.
Do you ever wonder why you play games in the first place? Killer graphics, over-the-top action, immersive gameplay, even a great sense of humor — there is often a feature to keep the controller firmly glued to your hands. Team Ninja and Comcept’s Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z has nothing like that.
If it weren’t for its title (and a brief appearance from veteran ninja Ryu Hayabusa), Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z has no connection to the Ninja Gaiden series. It might be a hack-and-slash title, but mechanics, enemies, and even the art style have been replaced with something radically different.
Different could be good if the changes were made with tender loving care. However, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z’s tale of zombies and revenge takes every single comic book, action movie, and video game cliche and mashes it all together in the hopes of creating something original. However, what remains is an edgy encounter can be downright embarrassing to play at times. The announcers cries of “slaughter” and “bloodbath” alongside Yaiba’s constant F-bombs almost feel like a parody of the entire genre.
The action in Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z does not fare much better. The original two Ninja Gaiden trilogies prided themselves on tough but challenging gameplay. Unfortunately, any semblance of challenge is thrown out of the window, as the flail weapon can be used to get through a good 80% of all fights. Counter and execution moves (not unlike the ones found in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance) are available, but are so sloppily implemented that using them is not worth your while. When 30 zombies rush you at once, countering and executing each one at a time doesn’t make much sense. In addition, executing any one zombie in a group nullifies any potential chance for other weakened zombies. Although this can be upgraded, it still maxes out at 10 at a time. This all encourages the use of the flail button, over and over and over again.
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z does try to provide depth through its elemental system, but even this seems slapped on. Fire, electricity, and acid are all things Yaiba needs to avoid, but throwing an electricity-enhanced zombie at a fire-spewing one causes a massive explosion that can be used to your benefit. This potential element of strategy goes out completely out of the window when enemies bum rush you at once. Large, diverse groups of enemies often attack at once, causing their own demise. This also causes a lot of backlash, as the residual damage does the majority of the work before you get a chance to even know where you are on the screen.
The cel-shaded graphics of Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, while stylish, make it next to impossible to find yourself amongst the fray. The brown, muted colors of the zombies blend in too well with the brown, muted world, making it all look brown and muted. Minibosses are often creative (an electrified bridezilla bent on revenge, a rockabilly posse that hops from rooftop to rooftop), but they are often repeated multiple times per level, making their repeat comebacks an annoyance.
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is a terrible disappointment. The heart and soul that made Ninja Gaiden so popular has been sucked out, leaving a shallow husk of a game. It’s best not to mess with Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z — it’s already been zombified.