Most helpful critical review
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Quick first impressions
on March 18, 2014
Well I'm a huge fan of Ninja Gaiden and felt that they redeemed the debacle that was the third entry with Razor's Edge, the tweaked mea culpa re-release of that game. I pre-ordered Yaiba, knowing full well that it was being developed by Spark Unlimited, a studio that does not have a good reputation. I picked it up this morning after reading the negative reviews from numerous outlets, including Edge's 2/10 and GameSpot's 4/10 scores, and must say after that after a couple of hours in that I simply cannot see why this game wasn't scored at least "average."
First of all, I want to say that if you're the kind of person who expects 100 hours of gameplay from every game you play, who thinks that only games like GTA and Skyrim deserve your full $60, then don't buy this game, because those 4/10 and 2/10 scores are written for people with your taste and criteria in game purchases. I respect people who crave value for their hard-earned money; at the same time, I vow to support the dying category of AA, mid-tier, single player games because those are the games I grew up with. I have no problem paying $60 for a game that fits my tastes, regardless of playtime.
I love the Ninja Gaiden series and hack and slash games in general. Some find them repetitive and that's understandable; however, I personally love the feeling of mastering an action game, figuring out enemy attack patterns, and conquering it on different difficulty levels. The best games in the Ninja Gaiden series stand toe to toe with God of War, Devil May Cry, and Bayonetta. Yaiba is a spin-off and doesn't quite reach those heights, but I'm finding this game to be a really fun experience so far. The graphics have a gorgeous, neon comic book style, the action is fast and fluid, and the game is pretty challenging. On normal, I've died many times already on my way to memorizing attack patterns and figuring out elemental weaknesses. If you can imagine a game that plays like 40% Ninja Gaiden and 60% Dynasty Warriors, you'll get the feel of this game perfectly. The platforming sections have an Uncharted feel and are really fun and thrilling to look at, and the gory animations are striking and fun to watch. Maybe the thing I like most about the game so far is its presentation, which pays tribute to b-movie horror schlock and is very stylish and fun. It's in the Suda51 wheelhouse but with less emphasis on being clever or ironic and more a straight tribute. Each enemy is introduced with a small cutscene and splash screen that might be a zombie wedding scene or a "mad scientist" scene where they are being experimented on while laid out on a stretcher. Unfortunately, I do find the music a little lacking so far, as in I wish there was more of it. Some scenes seem to be accompanied by little to no music at all, which reminds me of a gripe I have with another recent release, South Park: The Stick of Truth. Not a deal-breaker, but maybe developers are trying to get away from saturating every moment with the score. If this is a new trend in games, I don't like it.
On the numerous criticisms leveled at the game, I will agree with one: I wish the camera wasn't fixed. For many, that's a deal breaker, and I can certainly understand why. If you played the underrated Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, you'll have an idea of what Yaiba has in store.
Many of the other criticisms, however, are typical mainstream game review malarkey. Any who claims that you can simply sail through Yaiba by mindlessly mashing is flat-out lying. You can die quickly in this game even on Easy if you're not paying attention to the elemental weaknesses and enemy attack patterns. GameSpot's review claimed that all weapons are the same and that the reviewer preferred the flail, which is inaccurate information: the flail is a weak area attack that is used for things like dissipating electric shields and you cannot progress through this game mashing that attack alone. Also, a common criticism in many reviews is the tired, white-knighting pseudo-point that the misogyny present in Yaiba, namely through the Miss Monday character, is off-putting, reprehensible, deplorable, etc.
Look, I know there should be more and better representations of women in games. You probably know that too. What disappoints me is that the mainstream press purposely cherry picks games like Yaiba and Dragon's Crown as if this industry-wide problem is solely caused by these specific games and not a symptom of the industry in general. Yaiba is clearly a jerk and Miss Monday is clearly not interested. Yes she's styled like a busty secretary but honestly her design is standard fare for video games and comic books. I'm not saying it couldn't have been improved; I'm saying that this problem doesn't start or end with Yaiba and there are games out there who are far more guilty of trying to sell sex.