E3 Hands-On: Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z isn't a true Ninja Gaiden game, but it is fanfreakingtastic nonetheless.

I had no idea what Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z was before coming to E3 and taking a look at the Tecmo Koei booth. I love the first game in the 3D take on the series, hadn't played the second, and wanted to check it out to see if it'd be just as challenging and fun as the other entries.

It immediately caught my eye with its highly stylized, cartoon-ish graphics that instantly set it apart from the rest of the games in the series. I am a sucker for games that look like this.

I entered the game not knowing what to expect. Right away I was met with a cutscene that sets up the game. You play as Yaiba, a ninja that was supposed to have been cut down by Ryu Hayabusa.

The tone for the game is set as soon as you start playing. When most people think Ninja Gaiden, they think ninja in a dark outfit. Yaiba is a ninja in a dark outfit with a cyber eye and a rocket arm. He also has an assistant that chimes in every once in a while; she seems to have a thing against ninjas.

The game controls pretty well. I had played Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 the day before and it was sort of similar in gameplay: you beat the crud out of your enemies with different weapons and abilities, have some platform elements thrown in, and some boss battles against crazy enemies. Whereas LoS2 fell a bit flat, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z was a blast to play.

The combat was really fun. You had your normal sword style attacks, your rocket arm which could be used for massive damage (and could send you flying across the screen when charged), as well as "zombie weapons" you pick up from killing, you guessed it, zombies.

Your enemies in the demo are all zombies. You can rip their arms off and use them as nunchucks, tie them on a chain and swing them around for a weapon with some range, and more.

As previously mentioned, there are some platforming elements in the game, but these are relatively simple. They don't take very long and they don't interfere too much with the flow of the game. These segments are actually fun.

Although I only played the demo, the game didn't seem to have nearly the same kind of difficulty as the previous entries. It wasn't super easy, but it wasn't too much of a challenge. Nonetheless, it was entertaining to play due to the wacky game mechanics.

Both Yaiba and the assistant have some pretty hilarious dialogue that creates a comedic atmosphere for the game. It felt less like a normal Team Ninja game and more like the Blood Dragon of the Ninja Gaiden series.

There's a point in the demo where a panty factory explodes and panties go flying everywhere to the main character's delight. A moment later, a drunken kung-fu zombie with flame abilities comes out. Yaiba quips something along the lines of: "he ruined my fucking panty party," which, as juvenile as it is, still got some laughs out of me.

After killing the kung-fu fire zombie in the Ninja Gaiden Z demo, you can use his weapon to light a bunch of zombie enemies on fire. Unlike the other zombie weapons, it had a limited use, but it added some variety to the game and did some awesome damage.

This game impressed me a lot. I came in not knowing what it was, played the demo, and now want to buy it when it releases. It's got fun combat, great graphics, and it does not take itself seriously in any way. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is my kind of game.

Featured Columnist

Event Coverage Specialist

Published Jun. 13th 2013

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