Game Review: Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
(written by: Makeda “The Grim Phreaker” Dejene)
From the opening scene, Yabia: Ninja Gaiden Z immerses the player in a very cool, cel-shaded world with it’s “in your face”, fast-paced action. Yaiba’s fighting system thrives on combos and as you experiment with button combinations, you create intricate attacks which often lead to some cool animations, especially when battling several zombies at a time. Punch a zombie, kick a zombie, pick one [a zombie] up and swing it at another zombie—all of it leads to the player creating their own obnoxiously fantastic scene of violence and hilarity.
I thought Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z would be a breeze seeing as you’re a cyborg ninja slashing your way through “defenseless” undead. TecmoKoei kept it fresh with their own brand of zombies: Grenadier zombies, drunk zombies, pissed off zombie brides, zombie popes… There’s so many more but it was very refreshing to see the developers push the envelope and challenge the player to use a bit of strategy to take down these souped up monstrosities. Yabia, as a character, is a perverted, bad ass ninja, but for me he wasn’t really the star of the show. The ever so random and sometimes subtle pop culture references had me wide mouth laughing my way through some of the breaks in between battles. The unexpected humor gave me a surge of energy to face the next boss even when I thought I had enough for the day.
Although Yaiba NGZ was fun, it had some flaws that may turn off even the most casual of gamers. The biggest flaw in Yaiba NGZ was the camera movement. I would expect for an action game to have a very flexible camera so that the player can see a grand view of the battleground, but to my surprise, the camera was very stiff and forced me to wait for it move on it’s own while exploring with Yaiba. This particular flaw became quite prominent when fighting bosses. The camera angle would cut off where a boss appeared while fighting, and I wasn’t able to maneuver the camera to see boss attacks before they hit! For example, the zombie bride is a flying, screaming, electrical zombie with short and long range attacks. There’s a long range electrical move that she holds and follows you across the screen with. If I can’t see where she is aiming, how am I supposed to dodge/run from it?
Story-wise, Yaiba NGZ was very shallow, funny pop culture reference aside. It’s literally a battle after battle grind, so if you’re looking for a decent background story, look elsewhere. Another issue with the grind is the predictability of what you’d have to fight next:
“Whew that was hard…”
This continues on throughout the game. I don’t mind progressive difficulty much, but guessing what comes next was a bit boring for me, coupled with the limited camera view made for a rage fest.
A small gripe: What was the use of the Datalink chick? All she did was make useless side comments! It wasn’t like she analyzed the enemies/bosses to give you a clue on how to win. She also plays the role of Captain Hindsight’s best friend: Ms. Obvious. She warned me about electricity delaying my robot parts… right when I’m being electrocuted. Thanks for the help.