Before Team Ninja left its mark on the Souls-like genre, it was busy revolutionising the Ninja Gaiden series for a whole new generation of gamers. Between 2004 and 2012, the studio released several entries into the series that showcased a similar brand of punishingly-hard combat that was seen within Nioh and its successor Nioh 2. With the Nioh series now on hiatus, Team Ninja has revisited its past and has compiled Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 3: Razor's Edge in one enhanced collection.
Recently, we got the opportunity to speak to Fumihiko Yasuda, head of Team Ninja, about the collection and about what might be coming next for the long-running series.
GR: What has the reception to the trilogy been like so far?
Yasuda: When we announced the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection, the reaction from everyone totally exceeded our expectations, so we really felt that fans still to this day look forward to the series.
GR: With the trilogy being remastered for a new generation of consoles, what improvements have been made to the visuals and the frame rate?
Yasuda: The Switch version runs at 720p and the other platforms are 1080p, 60fps. 4K resolution and 60FPS for PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One X, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam (hardware requirements necessary). Resolution and FPS may fluctuate during gameplay, and players will of course need to have a 4K TV or monitor to play in full 4K/60FPS.
GR: Are there any aspects of the gameplay that you've gone back and tweaked to help improve the overall experience?
Yasuda: We focused on replicating the original games so there aren't any major changes. But we've made adjustments to features like Tag Mission mode in which players previously have felt were really unfair and as a result was not well received in the past.
GR: Why was 2021 chosen as the time to release the collection?
Yasuda: It's been on our minds for a long time that the Ninja Gaiden series isn't available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One generation of hardware as well as PC, and also the timing fit since we had finished work on Nioh 2.
In addition, the number of staff at Team Ninja who are of the generation that grew up playing Ninja Gaiden is slowly increasing. So, for our development team we wanted this to be an opportunity for them to get involved once again with the Ninja Gaiden franchise.
GR: Would you recommend that fans of the Nioh series played through these three games?
Yasuda: The masocore genre gives players various options aside from full-on combat to redeem themselves after dying. But players are clearly required to improve their playing skills in the Ninja Gaiden series in order to advance. For many new players, this stoic approach might feel fresh in comparison and for that reason, I think Ninja Gaiden can certainly satisfy the expectations of younger audiences.
GR: We know that most previous DLC will be included within the collection, but is there any new content present here?
Yasuda: There are no plans for new DLC or additional content.
GR: Why is it that "most of" the previous DLC has been included and not all of it?
Yasuda: Since the online multiplayer modes are not supported, there is a distinction from the original games. So that's why we're saying "most of" the DLC instead of "all of".
GR: Are there any plans to bring the trilogy to next-gen consoles?
Yasuda: There are currently no plans for a next-gen edition. For a proper next-gen version, it would actually require a complete remake. We did consider it, but we also wanted to get the games into the hands of players sooner than later. Also, if we had the time and resources for a remake we felt it would be a better served opportunity to create a new game, so that's why we decided to go with this collection at this time.
GR: Is there any chance we could see 2004's Ninja Gaiden receive the same treatment one day?
Yasuda: There are no plans at this point.
GR: Is Team Ninja interested in revisiting the franchise once more in a new entry?
Yasuda: If and when that time comes, we'll let everyone know. You can count on it!
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is set to launch on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One on June 10, 2021.