Ninja Blade is the embodiment of all that is wrong with Japanese developers at the moment. It's a game born from the ideology that cinematic prowess is interchangeable with player interactivity, as if somebody sat down with a copy of Metal Gear Solid 4 and thought it would be a good idea to chop out all the game 'nonsense' so all that remained was a succession of boss fights and videos. Spruce this action up by adding endless QTE inputs to those videos and - blammo - that's Ninja Blade from start to finish.
Influences from key actions games are clear to see: Ninja Blade's stolen the Blades of Chaos and QTE boss finishes from God of War; the dodging and air combo mechanics from Devil May Cry; the 'outbreak of a horrific mutating disease in a major city' plot from, well, you name it; and the blocking, combat and general kinky theme from Ninja Gaiden. But even though bits and pieces have been pinched from today's better action games, Ninja Blade's closest cousin is laserdisc 'legend' Dragon's Lair.
And if you can remember back that far you'll recall one very, very stark fact: Dragon's Lair was just a little bit shite. Even in the 1980s, back when mullets were in fashion and Power Lords action figures were considered trendy, it was shite. And a massive 26 years on things haven't improved much.
The wealth of QTEs does, at least, make for some quite impressive spectacles. We can safely say that up until Ninja Blade we'd never battled a giant zombie snail on top on a Tokyo skyscraper; grabbed hold of a motorbike which it had vomited into the air; driven along a bus (yet another object it spat high into the sky) and thrown the bike into a freshly regurgitated petrol tanker. Nor had we ever hit a wrecking ball hard enough for it to spin 360; jumped on as it passed by; sliced the chain partway through the next revolution and smashed it down onto a giant tarantula. We've lived sheltered lives.
For the spectator the visual oomph is undeniable, but the payoff for those playing the game is mostly cancelled out by the QTE frustrations. Action seekers should stealthily sneak past this tripe and search for their ya-yas elsewhere.
We originally had this down as Ninja Gaiden Lite. We were wrong. Tedious.
- It's Dragon's Lair...
- ... with rubbish added action