Since 1995, Team Ninja has tried its best to deviate from the norm. Franchises like Dead or Alive and Nioh borrow from their genre counterparts and introduce new mechanics to diversify themselves from the competition. While the studio doesn’t always produce compelling software, it’s successful at crafting distinct identities for each of its properties. Beyond the fan service of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball lies a serious developer that pays close attention to detail. The following are some of Team Ninja’s most celebrated titles so far. With Dead or Alive 6‘s recent release, it’s possible that this list will change once more people get their hands on it.
Team Ninja’s best games | Nioh
Team Ninja’s newest franchise, Nioh, launched on PlayStation 4 back in 2017. Clearly inspired by From Software’s Dark Souls franchise, the game has players slay demons in a fictionalized version of Japan’s Sengoku period. William’s journey becomes more daunting as these monstrous yokai feed off the chaos caused by the nation’s ongoing civil war. Nioh‘s hack and slash gameplay feels satisfying as one’s blade slices through opponents, spewing out bits and pieces of their guts. On the other hand, watching William get trashed around by a horned behemoth certainly leaves players feeling a bit uncomfortable.
Elements of Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden‘s visceral, fluid combat are certainly found in Nioh. Despite this, the title feels much different from the developer’s prior work. Be it the difficulty or heavy basis in Japanese folklore, Nioh succeeds in establishing a viable property for Team Ninja. It’s no surprise that the developer is already working on a sequel.
Team Ninja’s best games | Ninja Gaiden Sigma
Ninja Gaiden Sigma is not for everyone. Popularly regarded as one of the most challenging action adventure titles ever made, this enhanced version of 2004’s Ninja Gaiden catapults dozens of enemies toward players without remorse. Some may try Ninja Gaiden Sigma‘s first stage and quit halfway through. Others, particularly those who are well-versed in hack and slash games, may find the title to be just as rewarding as it is difficult. Despite the criticism that the title still receives today, many gaming outlets bestow it the honor of being the best ninja title in modern history.
Team Ninja’s knack for detail is evident in Sigma, as blood plasters walls and red oozes out of foes when they’e cut open. Speed is a key component here, and thankfully the game keeps up with all the action onscreen without suffering from performance issues. Video game fans who live for challenging software may fall in love with Sigma.
Team Ninja’s best games | Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2
While Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is more accessible than its predecessor, it still isn’t for the faint of heart. Gore and graphic violence are the stars of this entry. When protagonist Ryu dismembers his enemies, blood covers his weapons and the environment around him. Mutilation is a key gameplay component, as foes with severed limbs are more likely to use suicide tactics, one of which includes pining down the main character and igniting an incendiary shuriken on top of him.
Watching Ryu perform a chiburui (the act of swatting blood off one’s sword) is satisfying, especially after using multiple Obliteration Techniques in a row. Like the original, Sigma 2 is rewarding the more one pours his or her time and patience into the game. Fans can also wield a scythe called the Eclipse, which is pretty badass.
Team Ninja’s best games | Metroid: Other M
Metroid: Other M is one of the most controversial titles that Nintendo has published so far. In fact, you might be a little stunned that it is on this list. Set between Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, the game has players explore an abandoned space station as franchise mascot Samus Aran. Significant emphasis is placed on story, particularly on Samus’ relationship with her commanding officer Adam Malkovich. Though many critics and fans dislike the game from a narrative standpoint, many praise its third-person combat and intuitive control scheme. Although some don’t, which is why it is a controversial title. Those who do like it might even see it as a proper evolution of the series’ original design.
Team Ninja did its homework before making Other M and it shows, especially when players encounter the game’s moody environments and listen to its atmospheric tracks for the first time. Despite the outcry, it’s possible that Nintendo was at least somewhat pleased with the final product. After all, the company is publishing Team Ninja’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 exclusively on Switch soon.
Team Ninja’s best games | Dead or Alive 5
Dead or Alive 5 is action-packed, zany, and fun. While launching opponents up in the air and shooting black holes out of one’s hands is always a thrill, this fighter offers fans robust gameplay that refines and rebalances some of Dead or Alive 4‘s uneven aspects. Perhaps the game’s most impressive component lies in its dynamic stages, the likes of which break apart the more that combatants wreak havoc. Team Ninja managed to craft a fighting game that’s a delight to play and a marvel to look at with Dead or Alive 5. It’s an accomplishment among fighting games, even by today’s standards.
Team Ninja’s best games | Dead or Alive 2
Dead or Alive 2 represents the pinnacle of Team Ninja’s beloved fighting franchise as its signature relationship between holds, throws, and blows is honed in on here. Offensive tactics can be easily countered, challenging the perception that chaining combos is the only way one can become skilled at fighting games. This entry also laid the groundwork for Dead or Alive 5‘s dynamic stages, as combatants can enter new areas when they break through walls or fall off ledges. Team Ninja’s famous series found its identity in Dead or Alive 2, one that has helped diversify it from the competition for 20 years.
Outside the aforementioned Dead or Alive 6, Team Ninja fans have Nioh 2 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 to look forward to. Though the developer isn’t as celebrated as Naughty Dog, Rockstar, or Blizzard, its contributions are welcome in a market that’s often saturated with first-person shooters and massive online multiplayer games. Slicing up hulking demons or juggling opponents with martial arts moves are thrills worth experiencing over and over again, even as video games enter a new generation of technical sophistication. There’s no telling what Team Ninja will develop beyond its announced projects, but the future is rife with opportunity.