Yaiba Ninja Gaiden Z features a colorful, cel-shaded approach to hand-to-hand combat - and humor.
Like other Ninja Gaiden games, the combat is all about timing and combos, which increases the number of hits and eventually yields over-the-top finishing moves if the player has executed a sequence correctly. Yaiba moves so fast between enemies, it becomes almost a rhythm game of pressing face buttons and triggers to execute punches, sword swings, blocks, and grab attacks. The challenge comes in the rank of enemies -- the further you progress in the game, the better the AI becomes about blocking Yaiba 's attacks, forcing the player to change tactics beyond mere button mashing. The finishing move attacks are also timed with a narrowing reticule hinting at when a player should mash their next button to complete the move and a "Good/Fair/Poor" rating displayed on screen immediately afterward.