'Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z' Brings Together Zombies, Cyborgs, And Ninjas... Finally

March 19, 2014

Ninja Gaiden has a storied history that, over its 27 year history, a lot of gamers have connected with on multiple levels. From the grueling gameplay to the rich story, Ryu Hayabusa holds a special place in players' hearts, whether they first picked up his blade on the NES or the Xbox. In a strange twist, the latest entry into the Ninja Gaiden franchise, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, has virtually nothing to do with the games that have come before it outside of its name. Team Ninja have flipped the story of Ninja Gaiden, putting players in control of a new ninja, who's mad with revenge, and looking to take down Ryu Hayabusa, once and for all.

Developer: Team Ninja/ Spark Unlimited/ Comcept
Publisher: Tecmo Koei

While the man behind the modern day Ninja Gaiden games, Tomonobu Itagaki, left Team Ninja a few years ago, another well-known name in the industry stepped in to provide some creative direction for Yaiba. Mega Man and Dead Rising creator, Keiji Inafune, and his new company Comcept helped with the initial idea for Ninja Gaiden Z, as well as provide some creative direction throughout the life of the project. From there, Team Ninja worked with Spark to do what they do best - make Ninja Gaiden games (they're also pretty good at making D.O.A. games). While the art style and story may be a bit of a departure from their past work, any Ninja Gaiden fan worth their salt will feel at home battling it out with Team Ninja's signature gameplay.

Yaiba Kamikaze is a ninja on a mission: take out the best ninjas in the world... or, at least, that was his mission until he ran into Ryu Hayabusa. The star of the previous Ninja Gaiden games put an end to his ninja hunt by slicing Yaiba in half, and leaving him for dead. Somehow, Kamikaze was resurrected and reconstructed with cutting edge machinery by a mysterious and nefarious corporation, whose leader wants to see Hayabusa killed just as much as Yaiba does. Now Yaiba is better equipped than he was before, with grappling arm that would make Rad Spencer jealous, and a cybernetic eye that will help him along his journey. In addition to being tuned in on Hayabusa, Yaiba must contend with hordes of zombies, each of which is more ridiculous than the last, and they're all looking to snack on him. It's going to be quite the uphill battle for this well-worn ninja.

The game plays out like a modern hack-n-slash title, where Yaiba must take down zombie after zombie with his blade. The more buttons you mash, the longer your combo extends, and the more elaborate your attack becomes. The more zombies that Yaiba kills, the faster he will level up, unlocking more upgrades to his system like battle combos, and increased elemental defenses. Overall, it's a straight-forward bloodbath, especially if you've ever taken Hayabusa out for a spin.

Yaiba will be hunting Hayabusa on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PCs. The game's unique visuals make it a worthy candidate to be found on the older hardware, since the cel shaded, comic book style looks great no matter what platform it's on. As an added bonus, Keiji Inafune fans should be on the look out for some special DLC that's on the horizon when Beck, from Mighty No. 9, makes his first video game appearance as a bonus character.

It's very likely that Yaiba won't go down in the annals of video game history as one of the greatest games ever made, but it sure is fun. The gameplay can grow to be on the repetitive side, but that's true of the entire hack-n-slash genre. The over the top story, characters and humor are what ultimately come together to set Yaiba apart from the pack. The only thing that it's really comparable to is 2012's Lollipop Chainsaw, but that's where Team Ninja's experience shines through to make an altogether better game. If you're in the market for a ridiculous, gory, extravagant, zombie slaughterfest (and really, who isn't), then Yaiba is perfect for you.