The other day I took a couple of old games from my shelf, which I’d either played and lost interest in or never had any interest in them in the first place. It’s the trade in counter for you lot, I thought and then made my way to GAME. But at the store, as I handed over the collection of chuckaways, my hand paused over one particular title in the bag – Ninja Blade.
I know why I’d brought it down to trade it in; Ninja Blade has been gathering dust on my shelf since shortly after its release in 2009. I remember having quite a bit of fun with it at the preview event, but I also recalled thinking that I’d seen a lot of the contents of Ninja Blade in other games, only done a little bit better. To be frank, Ninja Blade struck me as a bit of a cheap knock-off; its gameplay was basically Ninja Gaiden II crossed with Devil May Cry… combined with elements from Assassin’s Creed and God Of War… with the monsters ported in from the Resident Evil series. Ninja Blade was like a smörgåsbord of some of the biggest third-person action adventures in gaming.
Still, I didn’t hold that against it. After all, if I dismissed games because they copied, borrowed or even entirely cloned titles that preceded them, I would never have enjoyed the delights of Dante’s Inferno. Or Saint’s Row 2. Or Guitar Hero World Tour.
The thing is, at the time Ninja Blade came out, I was buried under a mountain of movie and game reviews so I never got round to playing it. My colleague Thongings did though, and it’s due to the conversation I had with him about it that I resisted the urge to trade in Ninja Blade.
When it was released, Ninja Blade came in for a lot of flack for being derivative and silly. Reviewers slammed it not only for the list of games it borrowed heavily from, but also for being packed with QTEs, its nonsensical story and the fact that you could dress your Ninja up in garish, clown-like robes. When I asked Thongings about this, he snorted that all of this criticism missed the point. Ninja Blade wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, he said, in fact, considered as a game within its genre, you could actually argue that it was a rather sly satire on all of the combo-heavy, slice and dice adventures in which you played a Ninja/Warrior that have ever been made. One comment in particular sounded in my head as I stood at the counter in GAME, with my hand hovering above the box wrestling over my decision on whether or not to trade it in.
“How can you slate this game? Dude! You get to kick a wrecking ball into a giant spider’s face!!”
This prospect alone is what prompted me to spare Ninja Blade from the cut-out bin. Now I just have to find some time to play it…