Trying to get Reshade to work with this game has been quite troublesome and Special K (SK) requires some workarounds too. This is what motivated me to make this guide. I try to go through things in an easy to follow step by step process.
I’m assuming that people who ended up here already know what Reshade is but some might be less familiar with Special K. SK’s own wiki page describes it like this:
Special K is an extensive game modifying framework allowing for various forms of in-depth tweaking of a game. The focus is primarily on the graphics pipeline but the tool also includes features such as input device blocking/configuring, window and volume management, enhancements for some of the in-game functionality of Steam, and more. On top of this the framework includes various game-specific changes and optimizations that its developer Kaldaien have come across and fixed over the years.
One of the main functions of Special K for Reshade users is that we can use Special K to load Reshade as a plugin for SK. Normally Reshade just crashes the game and so does SK. However we can get SK working in the game with some workarounds and with SK we can also get Reshade to work. I have tried and tested this for all the Master Collection Ninja Gaiden games. There are some notes on the other two games at the end of this guide.
If you are already familiar with SK and are using this guide for the workarounds, take note that local injection (putting SpecialK64.dll file in game folder and renaming it dxgi.dll or dinput8.dll) does not work with this game. You need to use global Injection and setting that up is something that I will go through in this guide.
To get started you need to download installers for Special K and Reshade. Windows 10 is recommend for this. SK does work with windows 8.1 to an extent but I can’t guarantee that there won’t be issues because of it.
Special K: https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/792979353117524009/852102257055105044/SpecialK-21.06.08.exe
Warning concerning multiplayer games
IMPORTANT Make sure Special K is not running when you play an online game with an anti-cheat as this might get you BANNED from the game.
Many anti-cheats do not like the injection method of Special K and Special K has some texture editing features that could be used to cheat. Some online games do allow you to use it, but always be sure it’s allowed before using it. Use special K with an online game at your own risk.
If you don’t stop the injection before closing the Special K Injection Frontend (SKIF) Special K will stay running. To make sure Special K is not running open SKIF (installer names it as Special K) and make sure you see this:
MAKE SURE THE SPECIAL K SERVICE IS “NOT RUNNING” BEFORE YOU PLAY ONLINE GAMES!
Special K installation and setup
Run the Special K installer. If windows SmartScreen nags you, you can just choose “run anyway”. The installer will also install the Visual c++ 2019 redistributables which are required for SK to work.
The launcher installs the Special K to Username\Documents\My Mods\SpecialK This can’t be changed.
Now launch Special K Injection Frontend (named Special K on your desktop) and click on “Start Service to start global injection (this is similar to how RTSS hooks itself into games).
It should say “Running” if it worked:
Launch Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. The game will crash, this is expected. If you did things right so far you should have seen this appear on top of the screen before the game crashed:
Now let’s get Special K actually working with the game. The first launch of this game with Special K on should have created a profile folder for the game and a configuration file. Locate the SpecialK.ini configuration file in the Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 profile folder:
My Mods\SpecialK\Profiles\[NINJA GAIDEN Master Collection] NINJA GAIDEN Σ2\
Open the .ini file and inside it locate the line: [Steam.log]. Under it is Silent=false set it to true so it looks like this
Alright now SK shouldn’t crash on startup anymore. There’s still another issue you need to fix. The SK Control Panel will disappear when the intro video starts running. To prevent this from happening follow the next step. Locate [API.Hook] inside the SpecialK.ini and set everything but d3d11 to false, like so:
[API.Hook] LastKnown=64 d3d9=false d3d9ex=false d3d11=true OpenGL=false d3d12=false Vulkan=false
The main installation phase of SK is done. When you restart the game everything should work fine without crashing and you should be able to open the Special K Control Panel with CTRL+SHIFT+Backspace
Special K recommended settings and some tweaks
Now that SK is running. Let’s make use of some of it’s better features. This is not necessary if all you want to do is run Reshade, but I still recommend doing the steps in this section for a better gameplay experience. One thing I don’t go into here is enabling HDR with Special K. If you want to know more about how to run Ninja Gaiden in HDR with Special K, ask around the Special K discord server and look up guides for it in the Special K wiki. https://wiki.special-k.info/en/HDR/Retrofit
Let’s start by opening the Special K Control Panel. When SK is injected into the game (Service is Running) you can open the Control Panel with CTRL+SHIFT+Backspace or Start+Select or Start+Back buttons on your controller.
The Control Panel should appear:
Borderless Windowed mode on launch
Normally you can set this game to launch in borderless window mode by adding “Fullscreen” to the game’s launch options with your Steam client. For some people this will work just fine. I heard that some people with 1440p monitors have issues with this. As an alternative method, you can set this game to launch in borderless window mode automatically with Special K.
Open the control panel. Click on Window Management -> Style and Position. Tick the Borderless and Center boxes.
If your game is prone to crashing in fullscreen mode especially when the window loses focus, click on “Input/Output Behavior” below “Style and Positioning” and tick the “Continue Rendering” box.
Hide mouse cursor when not in use
Click “Input Management” and then “Mouse Cursor” and tick “Hide When Not Moved”
Framepacing and Latency Optimization
This is one of the main features of Special K.
Under the “Framerate Limiter” section tick the Framerate Limit box then CTRL+Click on the box where it shows the current FPS limit and (Limit Engaged) and set the number to 59.9. Special K will now take presedence over the horrible in-game framerate limiter and will give you much better Framepacing. You should have a flat green line when things work correctly. If you see a lot of fluctuation then you might want to enable and disable Framerate limiter once, that should smooth out the line again.
Click on the “Advanced” section next to the limiter and tick “Low Latency Mode”. Then If you are on an NVIDIA GPU look under “NVIDIA Driver Black Magic” and set “NVIDIA Reflex Mode” to Low Latency + Boost
Now it’s time to make your Borderless Window (BW) mode behave similarly to Fullscreen Exclusive (FSE) mode. This will give you the lower latency of FSE with the advantages of BW (easy Alt+TAB).
Click “Direct3D 11 Settings” and then “Swap Chain Management”.
Click “Flip Model Presentation”.
The rest of the settings under this section depend on the kind of monitor you use. Refer to the recommended settings section here: https://wiki.special-k.info/en/SwapChain. Choose based on what fits your setup best and whether you’d like to use vsync or not.
The settings in the example image below are what I use with fastsync enabled from NVIDIA control panel.
After setting up things how you like relaunch the game.
As a last little tip. If you have a native Xinput controller you can disable Steam Input for a slight input lag improvement. Go to the game’s properties in the Steam client and select the “Controller” tab. From there you can disable steam input.
Reshade installation and setup
This section of the guide is mostly following the steps of Special K’s own Reshade setup guide in it’s wiki page: https://wiki.special-k.info/en/SpecialK/ReShade
You should have done the steps in Special K installation and setup before you begin with setting up Reshade. The Special K optimization section is optional when it comes to using Reshade, but still highly recommended.
First you need to make sure that SK is compatible with Reshade. Open the Control Panel with CTRL+SHIFT+Backspace
Make sure to untick “Sleepless Render Thread” under the “Advanced” section of the “Framerate Limiter”. You should also untick “Show OSD in Video Capture” under Direct3D 11 Settings:
Move the Reshade installation .exe file to the next folder and launch it:
Hold CTRL and click on “Click here to select a game and manage its ReShade installation”. Some DLL and json files should appear.
Launch the Reshade installation .exe again. Click the “Click here to select a game and manage its ReShade installation” button again, but this time without holding CTRL. When the Reshade installer asks you to select game or application click “browse” and choose the folder where the Reshade Installation exe is and select the installation .exe. That might sound strange, but it’s what you want to do.
Choose Direct3D 10/11/12 as your Rendering API. Next select the Shaders you want. I recommend Installing all of the ones you tend to use across different games if you plan on using Reshade through Special K in other games. Injecting Reshade through Special K is a handy way to get Reshade into other games without having to install it separately for each game.
Now the folder should have a ReShade.ini file, open it and add this to the end of it:
[APP] ForceVSync=0 ForceWindowed=0 ForceFullscreen=0 ForceResolution=0,0 Force10BitFormat=0
Launch Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.
Open the SK control panel again, click “Plug-Ins”, “Third-Party” and then tick ReShade (Official). let the “Load Order” be set as Plug-In
Restart the game. Now you should be able to open the Reshade UI with the HOME key. If Reshade doesn’t seem to start then just restart the game couple of times, eventually Reshade should load properly and appear. After a few relaunches Reshade should show up consistently.
With the Reshade UI now open and accessible to you, it’s up to you how you want to use it.
Final notes and other NG games
Special K has it’s own Wiki page with a lot of guides to other features in Special K. One of the best feature I didn’t go into this guide is SDR to HDR. You should be able to run Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 in HDR with Special K even though the game doesn’t support it natively. I haven’t tried that personally so it’s something you will have to figure out on your own if you are interested.
Special K has a discord server that I recommend you to join. The front page of the Special K wiki has the invite link to it. The discord server gets the newest releases of Special K first and you can discuss the features of the mod and ask for support in the support chat. It also has a separate chat for the HDR feature I just mentioned previously.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 1
I did this originally with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 1 and it worked the same way. If you already went through the process of setting everything up for NGS2 then just running the global injection (Start Service) and enabling Reshade plugin from the control panel should make it work, you just need to apply one of the fixes again to stop the game from crashing on startup
Run the game with SK on at least once to create the required config files and then go to:
Documents\My Mods\SpecialK\Profiles\[NINJA GAIDEN Master Collection] NINJA GAIDEN Σ\
Open the SpecialK.ini and locate [Steam.Log]Silent=false and set it to Silent=true.
You also need to tick the same boxes in SK Control Panel that I tell you to tick in the Reshade setup guide. Just follow the 3 images in the guide.
If the game keeps crashing for you on alt-tabs tick the “Continue Rendering” box like I tell you to do in the SK recommended settings section. I recommend going through the optimization section of this guide and redo the steps for NGS1.
Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge
Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge runs on DirectX 9 which limits some of the options available to Special K. However it is still possible to turn on SKs framerate limiter, low latency mode and run Reshade.
To get SK working on NG3RE you need to do the same .ini fix that was required for the other games. Again run the game with SK on at least once to create the required config files and then go to:
Documents\My Mods\SpecialK\Profiles\[NINJA GAIDEN Master Collection] NINJA GAIDEN 3 Razor’s Edge\
Open the SpecialK.ini and locate [Steam.Log]Silent=false and set it to Silent=true.
Make sure the “Sleepless Render Thread” is unticked just like with the other two games. However for NG3RE you need to change the Load Order for reshade from “Plug-In” to “Early”. You can see where to do that in the last image of the Reshade section of this guide.
If the game keeps crashing for you on alt-tabs tick the “Continue Rendering” box like I tell you to do in the SK recommended settings section.
A big thank you to Kaldaien for creating and constantly updating Special K and to Aemony for his involvement in the project too. Big thanks to the creators of Reshade.
Also thank you to the people in SK discord server who were part of troubleshooting these issues so we could get SK to work with the Ninja Gaiden games.
This is all about [NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection] NINJA GAIDEN Σ2 – Optimization and Tweaks for Best Performance in NINJA GAIDEN Σ2; I hope you enjoy reading the Guide! If you feel like we should add more information or we forget/mistake, please let us know via commenting below, and thanks! See you soon!
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