People who missed out on the first 3D-action Ninja Gaiden games released in the aughts (and that other one that we don’t really talk about from 2012) will have a chance to play all three this coming June in Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection, announced for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4. But sadly, the first two entries in the trilogy will be based on the Sigma re-releases that originally came out on PS3 and PS Vita, not their definitive versions (Ninja Gaiden Black for the original Xbox and Ninja Gaiden II for the Xbox 360) because the team says their source code went missing.
Citing a recent Famitsu interview (via Kotaku), a staffer from developer Team Ninja told the publication that “there are only fragments of the data that remain. We couldn’t salvage them.” So, it’s not that the company prefers the Sigma remakes over the beloved original titles: this was Team Ninja’s only option, apparently.
Another screengrab from Ninja Gaiden Black running on Xbox One X, showcasing the original design of the Xbox as an easter egg.
“I am aware there are pros and cons,” says Team Ninja brand manager Fumihiko Yasuda, referring to the Sigma remakes. “For me personally, Ninja Gaiden II was my debut, and so I have a deep feeling for it,” Yasuda said in Famitsu. The pros he’s speaking of are the graphical and performance enhancements and extra content. The cons are more plentiful, like how many people felt Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Sigma II were made easier than the 2004, 2005, and 2008 copies of those games, and that some of the level design, game items, story beats, and enemies were changed. The interview doesn’t address whether the data for the original 2004 version of Ninja Gaiden still exists, or if Sigma is really the only complete copy of the game in existence.
I’m still looking forward to playing all of these games again, possibly on my Nintendo Switch, but this is yet another example of why preservation in gaming is so important. These aren’t even particularly old titles, with the original Ninja Gaiden releasing on the Xbox just 17 years ago. But, regardless of age, gaming’s rich history is better off remembered by having those games around rather than wishing they still existed. Well, time to go clutch my copy of Ninja Gaiden Black and never let go.