Ryu Hayabusa has been around since 1988 but if you asked the average gamer who this ninja is, sadly they probably wouldn't know. Although his hack and slash series Ninja Gaiden has maintained a loyal fanbase over the years, it was Team Ninja's notoriously difficult 2004 Xbox revival that truly put Ryu back in the spotlight.
This brings us to the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection - containing three ports from the same period. It includes the PlayStation releases - Ninja Gaiden Sigma (2007) and Sigma 2 (2009), along with Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge (2012). Each entry is now capable of running at 60 FPS in 4K and most of the extra modes and DLC are included in these enhanced versions. Unfortunately, online multiplayer didn't make the cut.
Ninja Gaiden Black and the original Ninja Gaiden II were also unable to be salvaged by Koei Tecmo. While this is unlikely to impact the enjoyment of newcomers, some veteran ninjas may want to stick with the OG Xbox versions playable via backward compatibility.
Back to the collection, the first game is still the best of the lot - its gameplay, story, and setting have aged gracefully enough (overlooking some camera issues), and it remains just as challenging. Sigma 2 provides more of the same, is also fun, but still doesn't quite match the legacy of the first. In saying this, it's still a much better entry than Razor's Edge - an improved version of Ninja Gaiden III, a game that did things a bit differently. These games combined make up a mixed experience overall.
Considering it's such a straightforward collection of games, it is unlikely to change how you might already feel about the enhanced releases. And despite being labelled the 'Master Collection', all three titles are standalone downloads - so don't expect a launcher. On the plus side, there is a digital artbook and soundtrack. Koei Tecmo also confirmed a day one update - adding the same level of decapitation and blood/gore to Sigma 1&2 as featured in the original PS3 versions.
Although the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection could have been much more, the three games included run better than ever and should still be satisfying enough for returning fans. The bloody and brutal gameplay is just as exhilarating and will keep you coming back for more, and the collection is a great way for newer audiences to learn about Ryu Hayabusa's history.