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Ninja Gaiden 3: Will it fit in on the Wii U?

A bloody slasher with potential pad problems...

Hope you like blood. there's plenty of it in the new Ninja Gaiden - gallons of the stuff - along with savage dismemberment, sinister black-ops types and a whole lot of leather.

It's perhaps the game that shouts loudest about Nintendo trying to reclaim its hardcore fan base with Wii U; about Nintendo swiping the serious gamers' crown back from Microsoft and Sony.

Admittedly, we've seen this before. MadWorld is at once a beautifully ultra-violent slice of adult entertainment, and a sales embarrassment for the Wii. What can Ninja Gaiden 3 do to avoid 'doing a MadWorld'?


Well, the location helps. First demos put a portion of the game in London (well, London according to Dick Van Dyke at any rate), with series hero Ryu Hayabusa tasked with saving the Prime Minister. He cuts a trail through conveniently placed routemaster buses and thugs with cock-er-ney accents, guv'nor, spilling lashings of that ever-present gore as he goes.

Combat is brutal, but a little too reliant on Qtes at the moment. While attacks follow the usual Ninja Gaiden formula of one button for quick slice, one button for heavy slash, they're often followed by a camera zoom and a QTE as Ryu violently shoves or carves his dragon sword through an opponent.

While previous (modern) Ninja Gaiden games have focused on capturing the feeling of being a badass, athletic ninja, this third outing wants to - and we quote - simulate the sensation of "slicing and chopping through flesh and bone". Sure, on screen it looks pleasingly nasty, but the reliance on QTEs and bloody spectacle does break the flow of the action.

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That's no bad thing if you decide to play the game using a traditional MotionPlus remote - you'll definitely need a little break every now and then with Gaiden's enemies attacking constantly and smartly. It doesn't take a huge wedge of imagination to work out how Ryu's sword-swipes can easily translate to a small white stick, and developers tecmo Koei have already confirmed that the game will support PlayStation Move.

How the action is integrated into the specialist Wii U tablet controller is another matter beyond tapping the screen to unleash Ninpo (magic attacks) there's no obvious use for the proprietary screen.

In fact, we're a little worried that the size and shape of the Wii U pad will make a frantic action game such as Ninja Gaiden 3 tough on the hands during long periods of play.

Stringing together combos and blocks, mastering the timing required to stay alive in a game so brutally unforgiving, needs sharp finger-work. Which in turn needs a controller that you can hold comfortably and - crucially - won't cost the earth to replace when you hurl it across the room after being felled by the second level boss again and again.


So while we're glad to have Ryu Hayabusa on board, we don't expect him to truly sell the unique Wii U hardware. Still, it's great that Nintendo want to bring hardcore, very adult games firmly back into the family, so Ninja Gaiden 3 is a promising, blood-spattered and very welcome statement.

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