A good while back, I wrote a piece for The Game Bolt that spoke of my desire to see Ryu Hayabusa return in Ninja Gaiden 4. My sentiments very much remain the same. We still haven’t seen Ninja Gaiden 4, over a year after my initial article that called for it. This is a series with plenty of cross-platform appeal and one that has done very well for Koei Tecmo in the past on any platform it found itself on. Personally, I loved the frantic, difficult and extremely violent gameplay of the series that has been dormant for far too long. It’s been five years of hurt.
A return to the lore and world of Ryu Haybusa’s Ninja Gaiden is long overdue. Just imagine the spectacular graphics Team Ninja could pull of on the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro. If not on either of those consoles though, the Switch could easily prove a fertile home for Ninja Gaiden 4. While the graphics wouldn’t be as good, they could still make the best-looking entry of the series yet that you could take on the go. The HD Rumble of the Switch’s Joy-Cons will make for perfect gross-out moments when your blade makes its way through flesh and then bone. Whatever console Ninja Gaiden 4 ends up on, you’ll be sure of a fantastic game.
Ninja Gaiden is one of those series where fans across all consoles can get behind it and enjoy it. It has the dark brooding of so many Xbox games, the slick graphics of a Playstation game, and the great gameplay of a Nintendo game, rolled into one. It’s a shame that people fell out of love with the series after the third game, but a fourth game can right where that game went wrong in so many people’s eyes. Ninja Gaiden 4 needs to be difficult, but not infuriating. It needs to have a solid, but over-the-top plot and feature the same kick-ass limb-slicing gameplay of its predecessors. If you don’t want to play a game like that, well, you’re seriously missing out. I mean, who doesn’t want to dismember giant android dinosaurs in the same game as ripping apart a God?
Ninja Gaiden 3 definitely held the series back with an easier difficulty and lesser plot compared to the two games before it and the much-improved Wii U edition proved too little too late to salvage the game’s name from infamy. Despite the game’s bad reputation, I found myself enjoying every second of its over-the-top gore-fest. It’s a super-slick hack-and-slash title that has a lot of fun with its boss battles and ridiculous situations. I know that fans of the series would have wanted something a little more grounded and a little more difficult than what we received – these are areas that Ninja Gaiden 4 could improve upon. With a tighter, more sensical plot and a slightly higher difficulty, Ninja Gaiden 4 would have already bettered Ninja Gaiden 3 even before the more minute details.
I’d like to see Ninja Gaiden 4 add more RPG elements to the series. There are some already present, but a little more could be great. Instead of hundreds of cut-scenes, maybe we could be given a large area to explore with plenty of people to talk to in the game, like with the excellent Nier: Automata. Ninja Gaiden 4 should be on a grander scale than what has come before. The bosses should be bigger, the levels should be more open and you should feel dwarfed by the game that lies in front of you. Adding in more RPG elements, including loads of useable weapons, more stats and a strong levelling up mechanic for Ryu could be brilliant as long as it doesn’t detract from the series’ exciting, violent gameplay.
It would be nice to see Ninja Gaiden 4 add co-op to the series in a big way, too. Four-player co-op would prove far too difficult and hectic, but two-player where you can choose from Ayane or Ryu could be ace. The amount of enemies would likely go up, or their health, but it could add in some spectacular two-player finishing moves. It would be tricky to add in bigger areas and more RPG elements alongside a quality co-op option, but if it’s all implemented well, Team Ninja could be onto something of a winner with Ninja Gaiden 4. Just thinking about how glorious a fourth Ninja Gaiden game could be is enough to make me really want one sooner, rather than later. If Team Ninja can make Ninja Gaiden 4 on a much grander scale than the third game, with increased RPG elements and a bigger, more open world then we’d all be praising the developer once more.