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Video Game / Ninja Gaiden 3 (2012)

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Ninja Gaiden III is a Stylish Action Hack and Slash game originally released in March 2012 for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Set after Ninja Gaiden II (2008), Ryu receives a request from the Japanese government, after terrorists take the British Prime Minister hostage, demanding his appearance. Travelling to London, he meets the enigmatic "Regent of the Mask", who places a curse on Ryu's right arm, making him feel the pain and hatred of the people he killed, while sealing the Dragon Sword within his body. With the "Grip of Death" slowly consuming his body, Ryu has to defeat the Regent and his "Lords of Alchemy" before they remake the world within seven days.

Ninja Gaiden III marks the return of scriptwriter Masato Kato to the series, who brought back story elements of the NES trilogy following their absence in the prior modern games. The game also featured competitive multiplayer, a first for the series.


In 2012, the game received an Updated Re-release for the Wii U (January 2013 in Europe), subtitled Razor's Edge. This version added traditional dismemberments, increased difficulty, additional weapons and upgrades, and additional playable characters (Momiji, Ayane and Kasumi). Ports for the PS3 and Xbox 360 were released in April 2013, which include all the downloadable content from the Wii U version already on the disc. Razor's Edge also is included in the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.



  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Played in an odd way in Ninja Gaiden 3. Ryu's weapons can cut through metal, but not effortlessly − a good half of the QTEs in the game are button mashing to cut down turrets, spider tank legs or other armored equipment.
  • Action Commands: Ninja Gaiden III may be the first game to have these with non-indicative button prompts during steel-on-bone attacks. Even if you're told to press Y, pressing X works just fine, and vice-versa. Since steel-on-bone chaining works only if you press X, you'll sometimes be better off disregarding the button prompt. Of course, you can also just turn the button-prompts off entirely...
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: Ninja Gaiden III allows the player to switch anytime to "Hero Mode". The game plays the same as on Normal difficulty, but when health is under 30% (when the lifebar starts to glow red), guard and evading become automatic, making death pretty much impossible.
  • Big Bad: The Regent of the Mask and men behind the man Cliff and Ashtear, in Ninja Gaiden III
  • Call-Back: In Day 6 of Ninja Gaiden 3, the Epigonos boss can switch between a sword, a scythe, and claws, like Ryū. Except the combos he uses with the scythe and claws are from the movelist of Ninja Gaiden II.
  • Camera Abuse: For additional immersion, blood will splat on the screen each time you peform an Obliteration Technique on an enemy in Ninja Gaiden III.
  • Cosmetic Award: Karma system. Averted in Razor's Edge, wherein the player spends points to upgrade weapons/Ninpo, increase health and learn new techniques.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: Ninja Gaiden III has sequences where you're forced to slowly descend on helpless, disarmed mook and mercilessly cut them down. While the first instance is a mook who just watched you dozens of his comrades and drops his gun, pleading for his life (and scared shitless), other situations has the mook dare you to kill them while lecturing you. The game cannot progress unless you kill them. Mercifully removed in Razor's Edge.
  • Death from Above: A gameplay mechanic in Ninja Gaiden III. You can jump from a high building and glide in the air towards a poor mook, before impaling him as you land.
  • Death or Glory Attack: Razor's Edge turned the stee-on-bone attacks into this. If you time it right, you can one-hit-kill an enemy before he grabs you − and repeat the attack on nearby enemies (a max-upgraded allows up to 4 kills in a row), and regain a tiny bit of health. If you don't, well, he grabs you.
  • Doppelgänger: The Epigonos from Ninja Gaiden III, and it comes in two forms: the first has Ryu's form, the second has a fiendish transformation and can switch between three weapons like Ryu. However, they're not as aggressive as the fiend versions and they easily fall for an Izuna Drop, even in harder difficulties.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: In Razor's Edge, playing in Hero Mode reduces the experience earned in combat if the character's health drops to the level where guard becomes automatic (i.e. you would have died without it).
  • Escort Mission: A very brief, easy one at the end of Day 4 in Ninja Gaiden III, where you have to protect Canna as multiple Homunculi jump and attack you. Inverted in the same game during the trek to find Joe, as Momiji is the one escorting Ryu.
  • Fatal Family Photo: As soon as the scientist in III starts talking about how Canna reminds him of his daughter back home, whom he will be seeing soon, you know he's doomed.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Ninja Gaiden III makes a point of eliminating elements that "break the immersion". No Hyperspace Arsenal (Save for the extra weapons in Razor's Edge, but that's it), no statues that teleport you to a shop, no Essence Drop from dead foes and the save point statues are replaced by a falcon following Ryu. There are no healing items either: even in Razor's Edge, all methods for healing (Ninpo, meditation, steel-on-bone and save points) are performed directly in-game, except for life-upgrades.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: One of the new techniques of Razor's Edge is "Meditation", which allows you to heal yourself using your Ninpo energy.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: The first fight against the Regent of the Mask in Ninja Gaiden III. You stab him for what seems to be the finishing blow...but instead he grabs Ryu's sword, utters a few words to activate the Grip of Murder and fuses it into his arm, giving him a cursed Red Right Hand for the rest of the game.
  • How We Got Here: The original Ninja Gaiden III begins with the scene from the very first trailer of the game − a first-person perspective of Ryu coldly assassinating an enemy and removing his mask, with chaos in the background. The player gains control of Ryu as he fights a giant humanoid monster, before the title appears and the story flashes back to Day 1. Turns out the man Ryu is killing is Theodore Higgins, Brainwashed and Crazy into becoming the Regent of the Mask, and the giant monster is the Goddess using Theodore's daughter Canna as its vessel, wielding the Dragon Sword.
  • I Have a Family: One of the mooks tries to pull this on Ryu at the beginning of Ninja Gaiden III. It works as well as expected.
  • Indy Escape: Ninja Gaiden III is quite fond of these, with notably two in Day 3 (the first to escape a napalm bombing, the second to outrun the T-Rex). Thankfully, it doesn't have too much of the Camera Screws these sequences usually have, since the camera zooms out a bit when an obstacle is close.
  • Invisibility: The Ghosts in Ninja Gaiden III have an invisibily suit and will usually use it for surprise attacks or lob grenades at you from every direction. You can detect them with your shurikens and your bow, and they always turn visible when they attack, so they aren't that difficult to fight, but they still can be a pain at higher difficulties.
  • Invulnerable Attack: Ninpo, off-the-wall attacks, throws, Obliteration and Ultimate Techniques, and steel-on-bone in the modern series (plus certain spin attacks in Ninja Gaiden II). In the higher difficulties of II, knowing how and when to use these is actually crucial.
  • Kaizo Trap: The clawed mutants of III will sometimes start to "overheat" and come at you to explode after you killed them.
  • Meta Power Up: You can purchase a power-up in Razor's Edge (possibly NG3 as well) that allows you to accumulate Karma more quickly.
  • Morale Mechanic: In Ninja Gaiden 3, using the fire dragon Ninpo will cause the weakest enemies around to drop their weapons, cower and beg for their lives. If you so chose, you can finish them off regardless.
  • Nerf: Ninja Gaiden III indirectly nerfed the Izuna Drop: it's still an instant kill technique, but tougher human-sized mooks have to be weakened before you can lift them up, so it's not quite as overabused as in previous games.
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: Homunculi in Ninja Gaiden III turn into Chimeras after you take them down. They are also the only enemies that beg you to kill them while they attack you.
  • Perfect Play A.I.: The Regent of the Mask in Razor's Edge can be quite infuriating, as he is mostly immune to Ultimate Techniques, dodges a lot and takes advantage of every little opening in your defense − and even his basic attacks deal quite a lot of damage. Dealing with him in higher difficulties requires a perfect knowledge of his pattern.
  • Pivotal Boss: The spider tank in Ninja Gaiden III is more or less this, although it can attack you even without facing you directly.
  • RPG Elements:
    • The Mission Mode and online modes for Ninja Gaiden III has you start as a low-ranking Ninja. Completing trials will level up your character, improving combos and equipment. This is quite surprising, as the story mode in the same game removed everything that remotely looked like an upgrade system.
    • Razor's Edge rectifies story mode, but with a different mechanic: players will use Karma points to upgrade weapons, Ninpo, increase the life bar and gain new techniques.
  • Score Multiplier: In Razor's Edge, after killing a few enemies, you enter "bloody rage mode", where your weapon/right arm starts to glow red: by holding triangle you can trigger an instant Ultimate Technique, but as long as you don't, a Karma multiplier will appear and increase each time you kill an enemy. Note than in the original Ninja Gaiden 3, the "red arm" was just the new way to activate ultimate techniques and didn't have any other function.
  • Spin Attack: In Razor's Edge, the shuriken gets its own spin attack. Also most of the "hold-and-release" strong attacks in III involve spinning horizontally or vertically.
  • Sword Beam: The double katanas' Ultimate Technique in Razor's Edge has Ryu spin rapidly before launching three of these.
  • Tamer and Chaster: The original release for Ninja Gaiden 3 really tried to make the series a little more grounded, with Ryu only equipping what he has in hand, no unexplained magic save statues, etc. That also extends in the attempt of toning down the provocative designs the series has been known for under Team Ninja's hands, all new females seen are dressed quite modestly compared to what the series has provided before, with only Momiji sticking out as she still wears her original outfit. Then comes the Razor's Edge re-release, the same way it tried to undo some of the attempts at making the series more grounded, it also brought back some of the risqué content, the new cutscenes with Ayane contain some little nudity and gratuitous breast jiggling.
  • Video Game Sliding: Ninja Gaiden 3 has a sliding move that is useful as a dodge , an offensive technique to put enemies off balance, and a way to get under obstacles. It completes the trilogy's list of dodge moves with the first game's Unnecessary Combat Roll and the second's Flash Step.
  • We Don't Suck Anymore: Team Ninja admitted that they tried too hard to catch a western audience with Ninja Gaiden 3 and ended up neglecting old fans of the series. As a result, the massive changes made to the gameplay for Razor's Edge are a mix of backpedalling to Ninja Gaiden II's popular elements (dismemberments, Ninpos, fast weapons) and overhauling of 3's new mechanics (Ki system, Grip of Murder, Steel-on-bones), peppered with a few new techniques and features, and a difficulty cranked up a couple notches. They kept Hero Mode, though.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: For a series that took much joy in slicing and dicing opposing mooks, Ninja Gaiden III attempted to turn this into a plot point. Also, when you perform the fire-dragon Ninpo the first time, mooks around drop their weapons and stop fighting; you have the choice to coldly finish them or let them live (it happens in Normal mode only).