When Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge was announced for the Wii U, I was both intrigued and worried. I gave up on the original Ninja Gaiden when I spent an hour failing to beat the very first boss, so I feared that this sequel was going to be as aggravating as its famously difficult ancestor. My fears were not soothed when the PR flack showing off the game began his spiel by saying Razor’s Edge has the challenge Ninja Gaiden fans expect. He then said that he found Razor’s Edge easier than the original game, so he wound up promising challenge and relative ease almost simultaneously. Time will tell.
Razor’s Edge looks to offer a lot of cheesy, martial arts fun. After a cut scene in which a naked Ninja girl in a massage parlor grabs a towel and takes out some attackers, I took control of the girl, who manages to get into her street clothes in the thirty seconds before the next attack. Sword in hand, I took out hordes of enemies in quick, fluid, beautifully animated slashes that raised clouds of blood. I jumped and dodged, I made sweeping upper cuts that launched enemies into the air, I spun like a steel blade, slashing through my attackers.
Visually the game is very striking, with luminous lighting and dark pools of shadow. As my character jumped I would often seen trails of light tracing where she had just been, allowing me to understand how I was traversing the battles.
Besides melee combat, I had a ranged weapon, a throwing dagger. This was useful against distant enemies with weapons, but I found it difficult to aim and throw fast enough for it to be a useful tool. Perhaps it’s just a matter of practice.
I ignored the gamepad touchscreen while I played. As I recall, it had a bunch of “Ys” representing the Y button of the controller – perhaps it tells you what combos are available - but the PR flack never said a word about the gamepad and I was so caught up in the fighting that I forgot to ask.
What I played of the game was very exciting and well done, but then, that was true of the first game as well. The real question for me is not, will this be an exciting, well-made, visually striking game, but rather, will it throw an impossible boss at me in the first hour? Judging by reviews of the PS3 and 360 versions, which came out in March, I expect it won’t. Descriptions range from “streamlined” to “dumbed down”’ in either case, it sounds like the game won’t be murderously difficult. I’ve got no complaints on that, but whether any other complaints will arise is unknown until the game comes out, alongside the Wii U, on November 18, 2012.