Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ninja Gaiden 3: Collector's Edition Review (w/pics)

In Depth Review: Ninja Gaiden III: Collector’s Edition

Note: This is NOT a review of Ninja Gaiden III, the game. Instead, this is a review of the contents of the Collector’s Edition’s Contents.

The Collector’s Edition of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 3 is supposed to contain the following:
1) Game
2) Online Pass
3) Download Voucher for Dead or Alive 5
4) Statue
5) Artbook
6) Soundtrack CD

It seems, via gamefaqs users, that the PS3 version of Ninja Gaiden 3's Collector's Edition does not seem to include the online pass in the game's box the way it’s supposed to. Having purchased the PS3 version, I can confirm that my copy also did not come with an online pass. I have already called Tecmo support (at 650 692-9080) and they took my information. They promised to get back to me by the end of today with a solution. I will edit this post when I hear back from them. (EDIT: Moments before posting this, I recieved my call and online pass code! Great job Tecmo support team. Handled this like pros!) Until then, let’s see what else we get for our 100 dollars plus tax!

The Packaging:

Slipcase, Statue Box, and Box

            The collector’s edition comes packaged in a fairly boring, but completely practical box. The design on the box is about as minimalist as it gets. It suits the game well, though, so I don’t think the plainness is a result of laziness on the part of the graphic designers. The box's art assets have been covered by those annoying logos that seem to cover just about anything we purchase these days.
            Thankfully, the logos and such are all part of a (very tight) slip cover that can be removed to allow you to display your box (don’t know why you’d want to but you could) in all its minimalist non-logo’d glory.
            Inside the box is yet another box. This box is for the included statuette. It is almost the same size as the entire collector’s edition and comes with a really slick-looking render of what the statuette is modeled after. 

            The rest of the room in the box is taken up by a small cardboard spacer (to prevent shifting of contents), the game disc (individually wrapped), and a download voucher for DOA5.
            In short, the collector's edition is well packaged and is quite economical in regards to how much space it takes up.

The Soundtrack:

            The game’s soundtrack comes packaged in its very own CD jewel case. I think it was only a few posts ago that I was wishing that Collector’s Editions would put their soundtracks in cases that can be shelved with the rest of one's CD collection.
            At a time when so many Collector’s Editions are giving consumers Downloadable versions of soundtracks instead of CD’s or putting the CD’s in paper sleeves, this jewel case is a mostly pleasant surprise. 


            There are, however, a few problems that mar this pleasantness. First, the jewel case does not come with a back/spine label. This means that though I can put the soundtrack with my music CD's, I’ll never know where the disc is because there is no spine label. Secondly, the jewel case was broken. The spindle that's supposed to hold the disc was pretty well shattered when I took the jewel case out of the box. 


            On to the good news… The CD has a nice design on it and comes with 15 tracks. The track listing is included in the folded booklet that comes in the jewel case. The music itself is what you would expect from a videogame soundtrack. If such soundtracks are you cup of tea, you’ll probably like it. If you don’t particularly care for videogame soundtracks (like me), then you’ll be disappointed with this Collector’s Edition staple. 


Track list

The Artbook:

            Another Collector’s Edition staple: the artbook. How does this artbook fair? Quite well, actually. The artbook is softcover and about the same dimensions as a comic book. The page count is a modest 50. The paper used is nice and glossy with paper that is not too cheap but not really high quality either. It’s right in the middle. 

Artbook has modest dimensions

But is VERY thin. Right, book. Left, Game box for scale.

            When it comes to the actual content of those 50 pages, this is probably my favorite pack-in artbook since starting this blog. The artwork consists of 3D renders, in-game assets, and very little concept artwork. For someone (like me) who loves hand drawn artwork, that’s a big disappointment. So, why am I so pleased with the artbook even though it lacks said hand drawn art? Well, most pages include what the artbook calls “Designer Notes.” In these sections, the designer explains the artwork or character design being shown. These designer notes do an excellent job of contextualizing the art being presented. It’s the kind of addition that really would have made the Metal Gear HD Collection Limited Edition's artbook a must have item. 


Render + Concept Art + Designer Notes = Neatest

            As if that weren’t enough, the artbook also includes: 1) explanations about some promotional images, 2) weapon designs,  3) a character relationship chart to acquaint you to how characters are related to one another, and 4) a short glossary to keep you up to speed on your basic Ninja Gaiden terminology.  


A Glossary? I approve!

            It’s a great addition.

The Statuette:

            The statuette is mostly cool. To start with, the statuette is about 7 inches tall and 8 inches wide. It consists of 5 pieces that must be assembled to fit together. 

Just for scale

            The first part is the base. The base is plain, flat, black sheet of plastic with foot pegs for the two characters. The base has one major flaw. The plastic is too thin. When trying to place the characters on the pegs, you can feel the base really start to bend. I found myself holding the bottom of the base right under the peg when inserting the characters. This was done to make sure that I didn’t break the peg by having it punch a hole through the bottom of the base. 

Flimsy Base with some paint that rubbed off of the figure

            A nice addition to the base is that there is a thin ridge along the back that you can use to prop up a piece of cardboard for a diorama-style presentation. The included cardboard is the second piece of the statuette. It is nicely printed, but is on cardboard that is too big to fit the dimensions of the base. Meaning that there are parts of the diorama that hang off of the base. The cardboard used is also a tad too flimsy and prone to bending/creasing.
            The third item is the masked warrior in red. He is a fairly well sculpted piece of hard plastic. The sculpt itself is a bit soft and lacking in fine details. Thankfully, the soft sculpt still has a nice look to it and the pose works well in conjunction with Ryu. The paint application, however, leaves a lot to be desired. The man in red has a good deal of paint slop in places where one color ends and another begins. It’s a common problem with action figures but should not be an issue in a collector’s edition inclusion at this price point. 

Surprisingly, no blood flying out of giant wound(s).

            The fourth piece is Ryu. The Ryu statuette has the same basic problems that the man in red's statuette. The sculpt is soft the paint application is mediocre. Thankfully, Ryu's statue also has the same positive attributes as the man in red's. Ryu has a good pose that works well in conjunction with the other figure.

Terrible Paint Application on "Right Hand of Doom"

            The fifth piece is Ryu’s sword. Unlike the masked duelist’s sword, Ryu’s sword is removable. It also, as evidenced by gamefaqs users, is very very fragile. Some CE owners seem to have received swords in a broken state. No word on whether this issue will be addressed by Tecmo. I will update this review with more information if it becomes available. (EDIT: Thanks to gamefaqs user Residentevil421, I have learned that Tecmo's solution to the broken sword is to return the game to the store where it was purchased for a replacement. This is a pretty awful solution. With this edition being released at only one chain and with multiple buyers having this problem, this solution is a bit too cavalier considering the awesome online support we've seen from Tecmo)
            Putting all of these pieces together takes a little bit of work. The pieces fit so well together that it is actually quite nerve racking to try and interlock the fragile plastic blades into the spaces provided for them. The good news is that after you finally put the piece together, the completed statuette looks quite nice. Even though the statuette is nowhere near the quality of the Uncharted 3 or Arkham City statues, the completed unit is easily more striking than the aforementioned statues. It’s a shame that closer inspections reveal the corners cut in regards to sculpt, build quality (mold lines and part seames), and paint application.  

Bird's Eye view of carnage

All Together Now

Dead or Alive 5 Premium Demo Voucher:

            This is another one of those nice inclusions with a big flaw. At this time, the demo code that I have still does not work. The PSN continues to tell me that this code is not correct or no longer valid. I have already emailed Tecmo about the issue and await their reply. I will edit this section when more information becomes available. (EDIT: Demo Code started working the very next day 3/21/12)
            I was really looking forward to this demo. I am one of those people who actually really dislikes DLC to be put into Collector’s Editions. To me, it always feels like they’re not actually making my Edition better, but making the regular edition worse by making edition-exclusive DLC. In short, taking content away from others is not the same as giving me extra content.
            That said, this DLC was going to break that mold. No content needed to be taken away from other gamers to give collector’s edition owners this downloadable extra. It was a great idea. I will post impressions once I acquire it.
            (Updated Demo Impressions 3/21/12) 

             The Collector's Editions Demo of DOA5 is like a combination of the two Ninja Gaiden 3 pre-order demos that were offered by Gamestop and Amazon respectively. Amazon's pre-order demo came with Ayane and Hayate as the only playable characters. Gamestop's came with Ryu and Hitomi. The Collector's edition comes with all 4 characters available for play. All 4 characters come with 2 costumes. I imagine that many more will be available come September. Hopefully they will be free (in DOA tradition). Lastly, there seems to be only 1 available stage for play.

            The Demo comes in at 415 megabytes. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the demo is very limited. Considering that the game doesn't come out until about 6 months time, it's nice to see that even though many options are crossed out, the game runs very smoothly. The game plays similarly to what I remember DOA playing like. The main difference that I noticed was that the game injects a cinematic flair to the action. Camera angles shift around to focus on the flashier moves ala Street Fighter IV (or even Ninja Gaiden 3).

             On a final note, the sweat shown on Hitomi's face on the Demo voucher seems to be more than just a neat visual. The characters in the demo show dirt and sweat on their persons as the fights progress. It's very much like the effect given to Lara Croft in the underrated  Tomb Raider Underworld. It's a good addition that I can only assume is new to the series. I should note that the last time I played a console DOA game was during the PS2 era because of the reluctance to release the series on the PS3 and my refusal to buy a second next gen console (the 360).


The whole kitten kaboodle
            It all comes down to the value. Is this edition worth 100 dollars? Right now that’s very hard to answer. With one item missing, one item not working, and a potential problem with statue sword durability, this edition doesn’t really feel as special as it could have. (EDIT: 2 out of 3 problems completely solved)
            However, if everything had gone as planned, this edition would have been mostly worth the asking price. The soundtrack is easily worth about 10 dollars. The artbook is also easily a 10 dollar value. The demo has no real monetary value (although I'm sure ebay disagrees), but has tons of fan value. So, you have to ask yourself if the statuette is worth the remaining 20 dollars. I say it is. It may not be the best statuette, but at 20 dollars, you’d be hard pressed to find something comparable at Toys'r'us.
            Of course, the real reason to pick this up, as with all collector’s editions, is to cater to your love of a particular brand. In this case that’s Ninja Gaiden. Regardless of what fans are saying about the new title, I think that fans can agree that the inclusions here are pretty cool and definitely worth having if you’ve got the cheddar to spare.

One more for the road

Thanks for reading. This edition is moderately recommended and for fans only.


Anonymous said...

My collectors edition did not come with with Ninja Gaiden 3 Online Pass Vouchers its missing what steps should I take to take care of this.You can email me at cam93230@yahoo.com Thank you so much for the help

Jonathan Ruiz said...

I called Tecmo support at (650) 692-9080. You could also email them at support@tecmokoeiamerica.com

Or, if you need more information, here is their support page: