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Team Ninja

I met Keiji Inafune! We discussed Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z!

Jun 18 // Tony Ponce
After leaving Capcom, Keiji Inafune formed Comcept in order to work on original titles, such as the superhero president game J.J. Rockets on mobile devices and the action-RPG Soul Sacrifice on PlayStation Vita. However, he wouldn't be completely against working on a licensed property if he had a strong attachment to it. One such game series that he really respects is Ninja Gaiden, and he had been playing around with the idea of a new Ninja Gaiden that incorporated zombies. He proposed this idea to Team Ninja, which coincidentally had been thinking about developing a zombie game of its own but lacked any personnel with experience in the genre. Thanks to his notable history with Dead Rising, Inafune was seen as the prime candidate for such a project. But Inafune was quick to remind me that the comparisons with Dead Rising end there. Speaking through a translator, he explained, "Yaiba is not purposefully trying to be influenced from Dead Rising. They are both [my] games, so the zombies made for Dead Rising and the zombies that are here will of course have some similarities... but you can't just cut zombies down and leave it at that. That's not going to be a fun game. You have to think, okay, ninjas and zombies, put those together and see how do we make that fun. What kind of chemical reaction comes from that combination?" The reaction is Ninja Gaiden Z, a game far apart from what we've come to expect from the series. Most notably, we are not playing as longstanding protagonist Ryu Hayabusa but rather Yaiba Kamikaze, a rival shinobi cut down by Ryu and resurrected as a cyborg. Yaiba is about as un-ninja as can get -- he's loud, foul-mouthed, lecherous, and driven by an insatiable bloodlust. Despite Yaiba's harder edge and a world populated by zombies who are surprisingly not the pushovers we've grown accustomed to, Ninja Gaiden Z is significantly toned down from the series' trademark level of difficulty. "It should have a Ninja Gaiden feel to the combat, the kind of responsiveness of a Ninja Gaiden game," Inafune stated, "but this is not a main Ninja Gaiden game. Yaiba is its own thing, and we need to make it accessible to people who maybe come in for the zombie aspects. They like zombie games and they're not used to the technical aspects of Ninja Gaiden. We need to be as open to those players as well so they don't quit in two seconds. Once we have that, we can think about how to make a deeper combat system and offer those sort of technical challenges for people who want that as well." Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is being developed for PS3 and Xbox 360 with the assistance of Spark Unlimited, the California-based studio currently working on Lost Planet 3. Inafune has been an extremely vocal proponent of Western developers, so it comes as no surprise that he would look outside Japan for aid. Still, Spark's history isn't that extensive, so why was it brought on board? "You can't just look at the past experience of a developer to judge them on what they can do moving forward. People leave developers, staff changes, so you can't always judge them by their past experience. You have to think of the management that is going to be constantly there and their vision for their studio." Inafune felt a connection with Spark's management and knew they could build a good relationship. And for added assistance, they even brought in Toby Gard, one of the designers of the original Tomb Raider! "No Japanese developer could come up with this art style," Inafune noted in regards to the game's striking cel shading. "You could give them all the direction in the world and they still wouldn't come up with this. Also, the kinds of things that you can do with zombies, the ways that you can play with the zombies, you maybe get half of the ideas from a Japanese developer that you get from the West. And even then, those ideas won't be up to the same fun quality." Zombies in Yaiba are not just cannon fodder. You can rip off their arms and use them as nunchuks, or you can toss them into heavy machinery and watch them operate it out of instinct. I'm surprised by how much humanity they've retained -- behind the wheel of a steamroller, one zombie gestures to his undead compatriot to get out of his path lest he get squashed, for example. I don't know how much of this humor simply couldn't be replicated by a Japanese studio, but I'm digging it. It's not traditional Ninja Gaiden, but any game where the hero will crash a truck into a lingerie store and start dancing as panties rain from the sky is okay in my book. Before I left the interview, I had to ask Inafune one final question regarding the elephant in the room. You think I'd spend 20 minutes with Mega Man's caretaker for roughly two decades without asking about the Blue Bomber? I asked, how do you feel about Mega Man in Super Smash Bros.? "I'm really happy for that! It's great! And hopefully they'll put Yaiba in it in the future!" First we need Yaiba on Wii U! "Yeah, no, not right now." Ha ha ha ha! Okay, I'm not even mad at the response! Well played!
Inafune and Yaiba photo
Guys. I met Keiji Inafune at E3. I interviewed Keiji Inafune at E3. I've achieved everything I've wanted to accomplish in my relatively short career as a games journalist. There is literally nothing else for me to do except p...

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z photo
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is your new horror action comedy

Cheap thrills and bloody kills
Jun 16
// Jonathan Holmes
Under Itagaki's watch, the Ninja Gaiden series was about big production values, precise action, and serious-face gameplay. Those days are over. With Inafune at the helm of this new Ninja Gaiden spin-off, the tone has gone th...
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z photo
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z trailer takes a page from MadWorld

"Honor and death go together like hot sauce and my balls!"
Jun 07
// Tony Ponce
GameTrailers has the exclusive debut trailer of Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, the zombie-infested Ninja Gaiden spin-off being handled by the trinity of Team Ninja, Spark Unlimited, and Keiji Inafune's new studio Comcept. Damn, does...

Review: Dead or Alive 5 Plus

Mar 29 // Ian Bonds
Dead or Alive 5 Plus (PSVita)Developer: Team NinjaPublisher: Tecmo KoeiReleased: March 19, 2013MSRP: $39.99 The Vita port of Dead or Alive 5 remains mostly unchanged from the game I reviewed last year. The story itself is the same, detailing the return of DOATEC as a company now run by Helena, and all the weird interlocking storylines from the characters are here as it culminates in the fifth Dead or Alive fighting tournament. That said, the story mode has been tweaked a bit, removing the level-by-level goals and placing them in a separate tutorial mode. The new version of the tutorial section adds not just these goals, but also a new combo challenge mode, to help familiarize players with the best strategies on how each character fights. Also, story mode is the only place you'll see the tag-team matches, as they have been removed from all other modes entirely. However, all the other modes are exactly the same as the home console versions. Arcade, survival, and time attack all perform exceptionally well, and after the initial slow connection time, the multiplayer modes are all wonderfully lag-free and surprisingly responsive in both ad hoc and online. There's even a day-one patch to include cross-save so you can carry over your story-mode progress or, more importantly for some, your DLC costumes. Cross-play is included as well, so you can battle online against friends who may only have the PS3 version. The graphics here on the Vita version also hold up very well when compared to its big brother. The danger zones in each level remain the same and fully detailed, as do the dirt and water remaining on your fighter as they roll around on the ground getting grimy while they fight. While DoA5 Plus' cast can get a bit on the pixelated side the closer you look with the included spectator mode and camera function -- you know, for taking action shots of how much ass you kick and not for getting the occasional side-boob shot -- it's minimal at best and doesn't detract from how gorgeous the character models look and react. In fact, most would be hard pressed to notice much of a marked difference between the handheld version and the console, something that could not be as easily said about the Vita port of another fighter, last year's Mortal Kombat. Gameplay also remains largely unchanged, with the exception of Plus' only Vita-function-specific mode "Touch." Here, the camera is placed into a first-person perspective and you flick, tap, and pinch the screen in order to attack, throw, and juggle your opponent. While it's an interesting novelty, sadly I can't imagine folks playing this mode for more than a round or two, as the first-person perspective is a bit jarring, and judging how close you are to your foe after a throw may have you swinging at the air before a hit connects. When it comes right down to it, one of last year's best fighting games on home consoles has become one of this year's best handheld fighters. Play control is never hampered by the more cramped constraints of the small button layout, graphics aren't sacrificed on the smaller screen, and just about everything from the feature-rich home version is included here, with a few noticeable exceptions. While not all the extra modes are fantastic, there's something to be said for extra content at all in a port, and the cross-save and cross-play functionality is a welcome addition to any Vita game.
DoA 5 Plus review photo
There's a "touch" joke here somewhere...
Last year, we returned to the sometimes strange but always beautiful Dead or Alive series; not in a leisurely beach title but in the series hallmark fighting genre. What we got was a deep, technical fighter that wasn't too te...

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z: A cyborg ninja zombie killer

Mar 27 // Dale North
First off, the name: Yaiba is the name of the main character of this title, and its character means "blade" in Japanese. Pretty fitting for a ninja, right? As for his backstory, details were light in this early look. We do know that he's Ninja Gaiden protagonist Ryu Hayabusa's arch-enemy, and that the two will meet in this game, though it's not clear if they'll fight or not (we hope so). Inafune says that Yaiba is "very out there" and "crazy sometimes," and that he contrasts nicely to the cool and deadly Ryu. Interestingly enough, both Inafune and Hayashi liken the relationship between these two ninjas to Vegeta and Goku of the popular manga Dragon Ball. Inafune says that Yaiba is like Vegeta in that he thinks he can take on the ultimate weapon, but always loses. Obviously, they're putting Ryu and Goku in the same category. The two ninjas have had conflicts in the past, but Hayashi said that we'll have to wait until E3 to learn more details on their past. Yaiba isn't your typical ninja. He has a cybernetic arm and eye, replacing a limb and an eye that were cut off/out by Ryu. Inafune didn't go into details, but did say that Yaiba will use cybernetic abilities in this game.  We know from the "Z" in the name that zombies play a big role in Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. Inafune draws on his zombie game experience gained in making the Dead Rising games to pull in some of the challenge that they provide. Expect to mow down waves of undead in sometimes funny situations. Inafune also said that he intends to work in some of the comical, fun elements from zombie culture into Yaiba, giving us some funny moments to break up the grim zombie slashing. For example, Yaiba can kill a zombie and then yank off his arms, using them as nunchucks.  The game is fashioned to look like an American comic book. We were first shown comic pages that were supposedly showing pieces of the story to drive this point home. Later we were told that these pages were made up of visuals directly from gameplay, which was surprising from how detailed and comic-like they were. Seeing early gameplay in action, Yaiba really does look like a moving comic book with its heavy, black outlines, dark coloring and shading. The clip we were shown showed third-person slashing-style combat not unlike that of a Ninja Gaiden game, though it had a lighter vibe given that zombies were being ripped apart instead of standard enemies.  We noticed that, while most of the combat was your standard third-person action, some clips showed side-scrolling fighting not unlike the first Ninja Gaiden game. In a bloody romp through what looked to be an infested industrial area, we also spotted some kind of aiming system prompts, and plenty environmental pick-up weapon use. I enjoyed watching many of the silly finishing moves used on the zombies, all of which were delightfully gory. After showing off the game, Inafune told a story about how he had always wanted to do a Ninja Gaiden game in his own style. It just so happened Tecmo Koei had been thinking about making a zombie/ninja game, too. After some initial dealings it was clear that Inafune would give them someone with zombie experience. Inafune also gave them one other twist that helped it all come together: mechs. They did not touch on how mechs would work into the formula, though. Hayashi says that we can expect hands-on opportunities with Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z at E3 this year. Let's hope it works out to be as cool as it sounds.
Yaiba first look photo
Inafune and Hayashi reveal first details
A game about acyborg ninja zombie killer that happens to be the arch-enemy of Ryu Hayabusa? Where has this game been all my life? Actually, we heard about it last year -- it's called Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. We've heard nothing...

Ninja Gaiden photo
Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge demo out now for 360/PS3

Sure, why not
Mar 12
// Jordan Devore
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 ports of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge are due out on April 2, but before full release, Team Ninja has put out a demo for this updated take on the action title. The demo itself features gameplay ...
Ninja Gaiden 3 trailer photo
Ninja Gaiden 3 trailer

There's gore galore in this Razor's Edge trailer

New trailer for the 360/PS3 version of Ninja Gaiden III: Razor's Edge
Mar 08
// Chris Carter
In case you didn't get a chance to play the slightly better Wii U port of the underwhelming Ninja Gaiden 3, you'll have your chance soon on the Xbox 360 and PS3 come April 2nd. This version will basically be the same as the ...
Dead or Alive 5 Plus photo
Dead or Alive 5 Plus

Dead or Alive 5 Plus demo coming shortly before release

Transfer your stats and unlocks into the full game
Mar 07
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Dead or Alive 5 Plus for the PlayStation Vita will have a demo avaialble shortly before the official release on March 19. Players will be able to have Cross-Play battles with current players of Dead or Alive 5 on the PlaySta...

Review: Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus

Mar 01 // Chris Carter
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus (PlayStation Vita)Developer: Team NinjaPublisher: Tecmo KoeiReleased: February 26, 2013MSRP: $39.99 I'll be blunt -- this version of Sigma 2 is locked at a maximum of 30 frames per second, and at times (especially in the game's AI partner based Tag Mode), it doesn't even reach that. Somehow, Team Ninja managed to regress from the beautiful port of Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus like it has never developed for the Vita before, and I can't explain it. The first Sigma Plus did run at 30 FPS, which sacrificed the integrity of the original a bit, but it ran consistently at 30 FPS -- Sigma 2 ... not so much.During the single-player campaign it mainly happens when there's lots of action on-screen, but in Tag Mode with an AI companion, it's extremely noticeable and borderline unplayable. In a fairly absurd move, I turned off the game's gore, turned up the camera speed, and the framerate improved a little bit, but treating a Vita port of an old release like it's a PC game on a low-end rig is a bit ridiculous. To add insult to injury, the franchise staple option of Japanese audio is mysteriously missing from the game, as is multiplayer in any form. Unlike the PS3 version of Sigma 2, there's no option to play online, or even local co-op for Tag Mode. This feature was quietly removed for no real reason, so be aware of it if you're looking to grab this game to play with friends on the go. I wouldn't go so far as to say co-op is essential to the Ninja Gaiden franchise, but it was a fun ancillary addition in Sigma 2, and it makes no sense to remove it from a supposedly enhanced Vita port. Team Ninja needs to get working on a patch very, very soon to fix the framerate, dual audio, and lack of co-op options, as they're absolutely essential to the experience and cripple this port. Outside of those major problems, however, the game is pretty much the exact same as Sigma 2. It has all of the content, all of the same enemy layouts, and it's still very much a Ninja Gaiden game. Just like Sigma 2, the initial difficulties have been toned down a bit. This is fine by me, considering the barriers to entry for new fans have been lowered, and the higher difficulties still possess a decent challenge. Sigma games are a different experience from the originals, and they've served their purpose just fine. Locales are varied and beautiful looking, and enemy types and boss fights are extremely fun to engage and figure out. Like the original Ninja Gaiden, NG2 offers some of the most iconic and challenging boss fights in an action game to date. All of the controls on the Vita work exactly as intended, with an easy on-screen tap for readying ranged weapons. I had no problem at all getting Ryu to do what I needed to do outside of fighting the framerate. When the game actually ran at its maximum framerate, combat was fast, fluid, and enjoyable just like it's always been. The camera is improved from the first game, but then again I never really had an issue with it in general. In terms of actual new content, there is Ninja Race mode, but it's not very fun. The main issue is that during the "race," you'll have to constantly stop and battle enemies in preset arenas before progressing. Essentially, Ninja Race just functions as a slightly modified Time Attack mode. What Team Ninja could have offered instead is a literal race through arranged portions of the game with few if any holdups, and original content. Instead, it feels like numerous parts of the game were just lazily copied and pasted with a timer thrown in.On top of the technical issues, there's barely anything new that's been added here to justify another purchase. It's a shame, because I really enjoyed the original Ninja Gaiden 2 and Sigma 2. Team Ninja really missed the opportunity to add a killer feature like the ability to replay Time Attack missions with extra characters or enhance Ninja Race, which would have justified a double/triple-dip. With the removal of content like Japanese audio and online co-op, this game doesn't offer enough to truly justify the "Plus" in its name. Team Ninja really needs to get its act together going forward, or the Ninja Gaiden series will be beyond repair.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Vita photo
Sigma 2 Minus
After the extremely sour-tasting Ninja Gaiden III that was, in my mind, a disaster in nearly every way possible, it's a bit hard to trust Team Ninja without Tomonobu Itagaki at the helm. Nonetheless, Team Ninja is still extre...

Dead or Alive 5 Vita photo
Dead or Alive 5 Vita

Dead or Alive 5 Plus trailer shows off some new features

Lots of kicking and punching ensue
Feb 15
// Chris Carter
Any Dead or Alive fans out there? This newest trailer for Dead or Alive 5 Plus shows off some Vita-centric features, like first person fighting, the ability to hold the Vita vertically, and touch features. At the end of the ...
Razor's Edge photo
Razor's Edge

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge confirmed for PS3 and 360

Dismemberment is back on Xbox 360 and PS3
Feb 06
// Jordan Devore
The recent retailer listing for Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was correct, unsurprisingly. Tecmo Koei has confirmed these ports as legitimate and announced a planned retail and digital-distributio...
Razor's Edge on PS3 / 360 photo
Razor's Edge on PS3 / 360

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge outed for PS3 / 360

Well, that was fast
Feb 05
// Tony Ponce
Not even three months since Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge landed, we already have evidence that PS3 and 360 ports of the enhanced Wii U port are on the way. Japanese retailer Rakuten has let slip that Razor's Edge will drop fo...
Ninja Gaiden 2 Vita photo
Ninja Gaiden 2 Vita

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus summed up in latest trailer

Videogames can be pretty ridiculous, sometimes
Jan 30
// Jordan Devore
It's back! The trailer for Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus Chris posted about the other week is now available in English. Funny enough, before remembering why this footage looked so familiar, I remarked to myself that Team Ninja j...
Dead or Alive 5 photo
Dead or Alive 5

Dead or Alive 5 gets free island stage, swimsuit DLC

Return to Zack Island
Jan 22
// Jordan Devore
This month, Dead or Alive 5 will be getting a free new island stage called "Zack Island" that I'm trying to type with a straight face, in addition to balance adjustments, updated movie upload functions, and more in update 1....
Ninja Gaiden photo
Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus gets a fancy gameplay trailer

I'm still on the fence
Jan 18
// Chris Carter
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus is on the way, and to celebrate, Tecmo Koei has a new gameplay trailer ready for eye consumption. Of course, that stupid armadillo boss is back, and I can hear the sounds of my controller hitting th...

Dead or Alive 5 Plus cross-platform features detailed

Team Ninja promises no lag between both versions
Jan 17
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Dead or Alive 5 is heading to the PlayStation Vita and is set to feature cross-platform play with the PlayStation 3 version of Team NINJA's fighting game. One of the features you can expect is that players will now see notifi...
Razor's Edge photo
Razor's Edge

Ninja Gaiden 3: RE is Australia's first game rated R18+

You finally did it, Australia
Jan 11
// Jordan Devore
It was a good day when Australia's R18+ rating was passed for videogames, paving the way for adults to purchase games that might have previously either been edited for content or refused classification. Of all the games that ...
Ninja Gaiden Z photo
Ninja Gaiden Z

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z development consoles detailed

Set for 360 and PS3
Dec 25
// Chris Carter
Remember Ninja Gaiden Z? That weird spinoff game where the chief goal is to kill the franchise hero Ryu Hayabusa? Although details on planned platforms have been scarce, leading some to believe it was a next-gen project, it s...

Take a look at Dead or Alive 5 Plus' first-person mode

It was only a matter of time
Dec 20
// Jordan Devore
Team Ninja has narrowed down the release date for Dead or Alive 5 Plus to March 19, 2013, in addition to providing screenshots taken from the PlayStation Vita title. One of the more interesting features is Touch Play Mode, a ...

Dead or Alive 5 Plus headed to Vita this March

And some Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 screenshots
Dec 06
// Jordan Devore
While the initial announcement made the rounds a few days ago, Tecmo Koei has given more details on Dead or Alive 5 Plus for PlayStation Vita. Scheduled to launch in March 2013, this version will naturally offer touch-based m...

Just in time for fall: Dead or Alive 5 swimsuit DLC

Appropriate seasonal wear
Nov 14
// Dale North
It's cold outside, but the cast of Dead or Alive 5 is invincible, so they're wearing swimsuits. At least some of them are furry. The newest Angels and Devils ($2.99 / 240 MSP each) costume packs from Team Ninja put ...

Review: Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge

Nov 13 // Jim Sterling
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge (Wii U)Developer: Team NinjaPublisher: Tecmo KoeiRelease: November 18, 2012MSRP: $59.99 To its credit, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge demonstrates how aware Team Ninja is of the original game's faults, since the studio really has done its best to fix those areas that let it down so badly in March of 2012. Variety has been ramped up, along with greater intensity from enemies, and a decent offering of fresh content. At face value, Razor's Edge goes out of its way to be the game Ninja Gaiden 3 should have been. For a start, combat is granted a higher degree of challenge with more aggressive opposition. While they're still not quite the smartest cats in the cradle, NG3's perpetually angry soldiers at least spend a little less time queuing up to receive their blood-drenched retribution from Ryu's hungry blade. Guarding and dodging now have a greater emphasis, evoking memories of older Ninja Gaiden titles, and making the game slightly more challenging.  Downloadable weapons from the original release, plus two new ones in the form of the Dual Katanas and Lunar Staff, are available during the course of the campaign without having to wait for them to appear on a digital marketplace, meaning Ryu will not be stuck with his sword for the majority of the experience. The added weapon variety is also accompanied by an all-new upgrade system, where Ryu can spend karma to gain new combo moves, special abilities, and enhance Ninpo magic attacks. By spending Karma, players can gain more health, the ability to self-heal, and cool (if useless) moves such as combat throws and head stomps.  [embed]238412:45740[/embed] Ryu's magic red arm, which allowed him to instantly kill opponents in the original release, has been given a few alterations as well. Although he can still use it to absorb souls and slaughter folk, he can't execute quite so many at a time, and the "cinematic" camera angles accompanying each kill have been toned down somewhat. In addition, those slow moments where Ryu would be overcome by his curse and trudge through a room one-hit killing everything have been removed entirely, replaced by dream-sequence arenas where Ryu basically just fights even more opponents in a gray, blurry, nightmare realm.  In addition to the original game, Ayane boasts two playable chapters of her own. As one might expect, she's nimble and unconventional in her attacks, wielding a pair of blades and tossing explosive kunai at her enemies. That said, her opponents are all made up of those found in Ryu's story, so while her moveset can provide a bit of a break, it's ultimately just more of the same.  More of the same, unfortunately, is what holds the whole package back. For all its genuine (and appreciated) attempts at evolution, Razor's Edge is still, at heart, the same messy soup of repetitious carnage. It might be a bit more difficult, but combat is still impossible to follow onscreen, as enemies surround Ryu and the button-mashing frenzy renders everything a blur. Level structure remains the same -- our hero walks down a corridor, hacks his way through an arena of predictable foes, and then walks down another corridor, from the beginning of the game to its dreary end. Rather than provide dramatic changes in any way, the Wii U iteration instead attempts to take several small steps forward. A lot has been improved, by a tiny amount. You can see evolution in almost every aspect of the game, but the evolution is only slight enough to be vaguely detected, rather than openly and instantly appreciated. This is not what the game required, as it was in dire need of significant fixing on a grand scale, not a microcosmic plethora of amendments.  Ninja Gaiden 3 is fundamentally mediocre, and Razor's Edge can only do so much to solve that. The new weapons and playable character help, but when combat remains a sloppy serving of soulless anarchy and level structure is as trite and unimaginative as its always been, the changes mean very little. In fact, given how boring the combat gets, one could make a fair argument that giving us more of it is something of a bad idea. The ultimate result of the changes is that the game simply drags on longer than it used to, which largely equates to the same amount of tired contempt per game.  Ninja Gaiden 3's online mode makes its return, though I must add that, at the time of writing, the Wii U is unable to go online. Looking through its solo challenges and offerings, however, it's all pretty much the same as last time, and last time was absolutely awful. You can read our original review to see what I thought of the pointless disaster that was NG3's attempts at versus play. When using the GamePad, Razor's Edge keeps it subtle, using the screen to display attack combos at a glance, and providing virtual buttons at the edges for players to touch and access such things as the inventory, upgrade menu, Ninpo attacks, and Ninja Sense. Pleasantly, all these items can also be accessed using the Pad's buttons, allowing players to use whatever feels more comfortable to them. If you're stuck in a level, you can press the Ninja Sense icon on the touchscreen or hold in the right stick. It's up to you, and I wish more developers would use these new input ideas to encourage versatility rather than force something on the user.  The GamePad is surprisingly comfortable and convenient to wield in one's button mashing endeavors. The wider play surface is appreciated for a game that encourages thumb cramps so enthusiastically, moreso than the optional Pro Controller input. While many may feel that Nintendo's optional peripheral is the preferred way to play Ninja Gaiden, the cramped design of that particular controller is nowhere near as usable as the spacious layout on the Pad. I'd recommend sticking with the Wii U's prime controller if you insist on playing this at all.  Like its first incarnation, Razor's Edge is visually unimpressive, and actually looks worse due to its capitulation on a fan-requested addition -- extra gore. While the power to dismember enemies has returned, it's clear from the outset that this feature was implemented with no elegance whatsoever. Limbs awkwardly fly off in a manner that suggests they were copied and pasted over the screen rather than ever belonging to the soldier they're falling from.  As enemies are reduced to kibble and torsos, they land awkwardly on the floor, frozen in peculiar angles and often wedged through solid surfaces. In all honestly, I'd rather the dismemberment remain out of the equation if the alternative is this laughable cut-and-shut job where gore reminds me of fake props found in 80's slasher movies.  Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge tried. It definitely did try, and nobody can take that away from it. However, nothing this Wii U release does can improve upon the core gameplay, which remains as dry, disaffected, and banausic as ever before. Razor's Edge gives us more, but when the original serving exceeded that which the player could stomach, "more" isn't a very tasty prospect. There are extra weapons, another playable character, and ultimately a greater level of content, but it all serves, in the end, to drag out what was already far too much of the same, vapid waste of time.  As it stands, Razor's Edge is a slight improvement of something that needed to be thrown away and started again from scratch. A turd, Team Ninja demonstrates, can indeed be polished -- but it still stinks.
Ninja Gaiden 3 Wii U photo
Disposable razors
Ninja Gaiden 3 was remarkable in its lack of remarkability. Team Ninja's ability to drop the ball with its franchise so spectacularly was damn near impressive, even if the result was a monotonous and exhausting slog thro...


Jimquisition: Monster Boobs And Plastic Children

Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Oct 01
// Jim Sterling
Oh, Team Ninja. Oh my dear, sweet Team Ninja. Oh my dear, sweet, misguided Team Ninja. Oh my dear, sweet, misguided, pervy, creepy, sleazy, weird, freaky, pervy, pervy, pervy Team Ninja. Your boobs are so bad. Your justification of said boobs are worse. Boobs. FYI, I fully admit today's episode is silly and quite possibly pointless. It was, however fun to make and I hope it is fun to watch.

Team Ninja: Dead or Alive fans demand bigger breasts

Gaming's sleaziest AAA dev justifies its large wobblers
Sep 27
// Jim Sterling
Team Ninja's Yohei Shimbori has been justifying his studio's love of massive breasts with inhuman wobble physics, claiming that while international distributors want the breasts toned down, fans are demanding even bigger...

Review: Dead or Alive 5

Sep 25 // Ian Bonds
Dead or Alive 5 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Team NINJAPublisher: Tecmo KoeiRelease: September 25, 2012MSRP: $59.99 To me, the Dead or Alive series has never been the most technical of fighting games. While it can be rewarding to master, it's always been more about the flash of style over fighting prowess. That is to say it's been a series that just about anyone can pick up and play, but only the determined will fully explore the intricacies of the counter system and surprisingly deep movesets. I myself was a fan early on, but admittedly missed the next-gen entry in DOA4, and once the it went to beach-based eye candy, it lost me (and many other fans) completely. It seems as though Team NINJA has realized this, thus Dead or Alive 5 has one of the deepest fighting systems in the series, while still keeping its button-mashing casual fans happy. The franchise staple of a four-button system (punch, kick, block, and throw) returns, but a few new features have been added to spice things up a bit. For starters, there is now a tag-team element -- doing a simple grab without any direction on the analog stick allows for a team grab or throw. Certain combinations of characters allow for unique attacks here as well, such as Tina and Bass's wrestling family grapple. You can of course tag in your character with the press of the shoulder button as well. The movesets for each character seem to have grown larger even from the last entry almost eight years ago. Characters have hundreds of move combinations, and the advanced counter system allows for even more transitional attacks and evades. For example, pressing back and block allows the character to perform a "hold" motion, which if timed right allows you to not only catch your opponents attack but also counter it immediately with painful results. While counters have been a staple in previous titles, this hold system seems to spin the standard counter attack style on its head. This is accented by the game's smooth animations. Every grapple, attack, and counter flows seamlessly. The holds mesh well with the standard moves, and never was there an issue of clipping or bad animations -- everything looks beautifully choreographed, as if the fights were planned that way. It really is remarkable. The graphics themselves are also sharp and crisp, and while there is plenty of cheesecake (and beefcake) to behold, it doesn't seem to be as nearly over-the-top as in previous entries -- well, aside from the beach costume and bunny swimsuit DLC. Yes, boobs still move strangely independent of one another in odd omni-directional ways, but the animations are slightly more realistic now. Slightly. Okay, it still looks kind of weird, but not as weird as it once was. The environments have been upgraded too -- every stage seems to have at least one extra tier to it, and getting knocked through paneling, off balconies, and even into giant spring loaded hammers bring the pain to you or your opponents. Several stages have an additional danger zone, which when triggered changes the environment and can cause massive damage. Many of these can only be set off by a character's Power Blow, which is a charged attack powered by a lowered health meter. When it starts flashing red, a combination of buttons plus a direction (different for each character) held for a few seconds powers up the technique, which unleashes a furious attack with a slick animation... if it connects. The drawback is that when powering up, you're often left vulnerable, but the tradeoff in damage is often worth it if it connects or doesn't get interrupted by an enemy's attack. All of these new techniques are detailed in the game's odd yet surprisingly deep story mode. You'll switch among each character in the game, following just about every person's various pathways to the tournament, and often replaying scenes from both perspectives. You'll have different goals for each battle, which act as tutorials of sorts that attempt to teach you not only the basics but also the new techniques to hone your fighting skills. While there is also a practice mode, the roughly three-hour story is the best way to unlock titles, characters, and costumes. Speaking of characters, DOA5 appears to have the largest roster ever, with seemingly all characters from previous entries making an appearance. Not only that, both Akira and Sarah Bryant from the Virtua Fighter series show up as well and look right at home in the DOA graphical style. There are also new fighters, such as the MMA-wannabe Mila and the foreman of the DOATEC-run oil rig named, uh, Rig -- it's clear they thought really hard about that one. Each character has several costumes, each unlocked in various ways. Of course, there has to be the slightest of perv factors, so some costumes can become translucent from sweat or water, revealing more bounce and jiggle for those longing for that kind of thing. That not enough perviness? How about Spectator mode, where you can watch the characters battle it out automatically and even take photos during the battles, pausing and playing the action as it runs and maneuvering the camera to anywhere (yes, ANYWHERE) on the screen with as much zoom as you're horny heart desires. Did your character lose a fight and you're too focused on her heaving breasts as she tries to catch her breath? No worries, you can move the camera closer here too! Thankfully, this feature is retained for the male fighters as well, so the female players can get all the beefcake they want (though somehow I don't think they'll use it nearly as much). Beyond Story, Spectator, and Practice modes, there's also Arcade (where you fight through eight battles solo or five as a tag team), Survival (standard "fight the waves of enemies until you die" fare), and Time Trial (how fast can you beat the allotted number of opponents). Online also offers many options, including standard Simple Matches, Ranked Matches, Lobby Matches, and even arcade-style or global tournaments. Sadly, all the online features are behind an online pass found on the back of the instruction manual, in what is clearly becoming the standard for all games with an online component. Dead or Alive 5 is a delicious surprise. While casual fighting game fans will be able to pick up and play, serious combatants will enjoy the rich and deep counter and hold system, as well as the tag team elements where unique match-ups can offer their own rewards. It's still not as technical a fighter as Tekken or Virtua Fighter, but it seems to be taking a step in that direction while still keeping what fans have loved about the series intact -- flashy characters, ease of play, and fan service. It's fun without being frustrating, the all-around fighter for everyone. Even the ones who won't admit to enjoying the T&A.

Remember when Dead or Alive wasn't just a fan-service, minigame-ridden, volleyball-infused, T&A bounce fest? These characters were actual fighters, who regularly beat the crap out of each other in a tournament instead of ...

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge: Getting bloody with Ayane

Sep 19 // Dale North
Ayane loves to spill blood. Her first appearance in this demo is on a massage table, showing gratuitous side boob and hip in a massage session in Paris. Masked goons surround her outside as she receives her rubdown, but one manages to sneak in and hold Ayane at gunpoint. She's not at all intimidated as the attacker holds the muzzle of his semi-automatic to her face, but does take offense as he starts to tilt it down into her cleavage, pulling at the towel that she had covered herself with. Ayane reacts with over-the-top violence, slicing off limbs of the attackers cleanly. It's a bloodfest as the arterial content of all attackers rains up and out from her swift cuts. I got a real sense of just how sharp Ayane's blade must be with the speed and effortlessness of her attacks. These were quick but defined moves that felt really good on the Wii U Pro Controller.  A second section of the demo took Ayane out of the massage parlor and into the streets of Paris, where countless other attackers lay waiting. Even with Ayane's double blades and fast attacks I struggled to stay alive against the bullets, punches, blades and even missiles came at me from every direction. Area-effective specials and throwing blades helped keep attackers at bay, but individual enemies never go down easily in Ninja Gaiden games, and with this many to contend with, I was having trouble keeping afloat. Maybe I should have looked into the newly added Ninja Skills, which are unlocked by using earned karma.  But I held fast with what I had for this demo, pushing back with against seemingly endless circles of thugs with everything in my arsenal. I'm pleased to say that the combat in Razor's Edge hits that rare zone where things feel nearly impossible, and sometimes gets close to exhausting, but also somehow still manageable when you play at the very top of your game. The game makes you work your fingers and your reflexes in continual streams of battles that make you feel like you just barely survived. If you do manage to survive, it makes you feel like a really skillful player, and that always feels great. Even with the little time I spent with Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, I got a good sense of the work that Team Ninja put into it in response to the fan criticisms of the previous version. I would need a lot more time with the game to make a stronger call, but it's already clear that Team Ninja has been hard at work here. Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge will be released alongside the Wii U console on November 18.

I was able to give Ayane a go in upcoming Wii U game Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge tonight at a Tecmo Koei press event in Tokyo. Tecmo Koei said that they were only offering a playable demo at their event as what they had...


TGS: Ninja Gaiden 3 brings the gore to Wii U in this clip

Sep 19
// Allistair Pinsof
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge for the Wii U is shaping up to be the best version of the game with fan-requested tweaks, new ninja skills, free DLC, and other improvements. Here's a glimpse to tide you over until the game releases in the US on November 18.

TGS: Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 comes to Vita next year

Sep 19
// Allistair Pinsof
Team Ninja is bringing it tonight! Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus will come to PlayStation Vita next year. That's right, the OFFICIAL best Ninja Gaiden (fact!) will come to Sony's handheld. Here's hoping you can decapitate ninjas ...

[Update: We now have the debut trailer, which you can see above. Prepare your mind to be blown.] At tonight's Tecmo Koei event in Shibuya, Keiji Inafune appeared to reveal that the "YAIBA" game we heard about last week ...


You won't wait long to get Dead or Alive 5 digitally

Sep 19
// Conrad Zimmerman
Dead or Alive 5 will be available as a digital release on PlayStation Network the same day as it hits shelves (September 25), Tecmo Koei revealed at an event tonight in Tokyo. Xbox 360 users will have a couple more days ...

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