Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z - Recap Review

What's good

- Appealing visual concept design of Yaiba (but bad execution)
- Inclusion of strategic element-usage and -combinations in combat
- (QTE-platforming sections are dumb but look fairly cool)

What's bad

- Nonsensical, badly explained story (even for Ninja Gaiden standards)
- Yaiba vs. Ryu rivalry quickly becomes a heavily underused sub-plot
- No likable characters whatsoever
- Embarassing sense of humor on the level of a 6 year old kid
- Monotone arena-to-arena level pacing
- Lots of recycled bosses
- Ridiculous difficulty spikes make the game more frustrating than challenging
- Despite upgrading, Yaiba doesn't really feel stronger
- Fixed camera angles make for plenty of frustrating situations
- Redundant, repetetive puzzles 
- Very outdated and bad visuals, even for cell-shading graphics
- Frequent graphical bugs
- (Pretty short campaign)


The final level kicking you randomly into some sort of Aztec space dimension

The Verdict

If you thought Ninja Gaiden 3 was already so dissappointing that it could only go uphill for the Ninja Gaiden franchise from here on out, then think again, because the spin-off Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z puts yet another even uglier nail into this once so glorious franchise.
To be fair, it has to be said that aside from the title "Ninja Gaiden Z" and Ryu's minor appearance in the story, Yaiba has absolutely nothing in common or to do with the Ninja Gaiden franchise whatsoever. But even with or without its connection to the franchise, it doesn't change the fact that Yaiba is just a bad (or at least very weak) game on various different levels.
While its truely a brave step to approach the Ninja Gaiden franchise with a completely new style, it's absolutely no excuse for Yaiba's badly told and uninvolving storyline, complete lack of relatable or likable characters, embarassing sense of crude humor, heavily outdated graphics, and even worse, its incredibly misguided and just plain bad gameplay.
Aside from the fact that fixed camera angles, extremely monotone arena-to-arena level pacing and lots of recycled bosses and enemy types over and over make the entire game a very frustrating and reptetive experience to begin with, it's the way that the game tries to mimic Ninja Gaiden's difficulty that truely devolves it even more into an anger-generator rather than a challenging hack n' slash game.
Instead of gradually introducing tougher enemies to the variety of foes you have to battle to prove your trained skills, Yaiba's idea of difficulty is to throw as many enemies at you at once as possible, generating unreal difficulty spikes throughout the game and overview problems galore.
Even the minor positives Yaiba has to offer, like the attempt of strategy through the inclusion of element-usage like fire, acid and electricity in combat, easily get buried under the weight of Yaiba's oh so many problems.

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is many things, but as good as all of them are absolutely nothing to be proud of in the least...and it sure as hell isn't a Ninja Gaiden game!
It's astounding how such a lackluster hack n' slash game can come out that late in the PS3's and 360's console cycle and even downgrade the once so great Ninja Gaiden franchise even more making the already disappointing Ninja Gaiden 3 look like a brilliant masterpiece in comparison.
For players looking for a weekend rental, Yaiba's arcade-like feel may be enough for you. But even then, there are just so many better hack n' slash games to spend your precious time with than with this weak devaluation of the Ninja Gaiden franchise.       


Final Verdict: 4 out of 10

Status: Very Weak / Rental

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