July 19, 2011 1 Comment
Ninja360° is a mix between Bomb Jack (a 1984 coin-op created by Tecmo that predates my birth by five years) and the Japanese television series Ninja Warrior. Lots of games on the indie market place offer high-end difficulty in the realm of platforming, but few of those titles succeed in being fun. Ninja360° does.
Ninja360° is contains 99 levels, each of which should take on average of twenty seconds to complete. Many of them take substantially less. In fact, many will be finished in under five seconds. To complete a stage, you have to collect all the coins in it. To do so, you jump, wall jump, and glide from platform to platform in very ninja-like fashion.
The defining gimmick of the game is that anytime you walk on a curved platform, the entire level rotates. Some have compared this to Super Mario Galaxy, but I find that to incorrect. In Mario Galaxy, you remain fixed to whatever platform you are on, with gravity adapting to whatever angle you’re walking on. In Ninja360°, the level changes angles but the gravity always remains pushing from top to bottom. Thus you can’t walk upside down on platforms and you’ll fall to your death in many situations. Having said all that, the gimmick works and adds a small puzzle-twist to the experience.
The controls are smooth, if at times a touch on the sensitive side. My biggest gripe with the game is the medal system. Ninja360° is designed with speed runs in mind. Every stage has gold, silver, and bronze time goals. Obtaining the bronze medals sometimes can prove to be a light challenge but very possible. Silver medals usually require more advanced techniques and different route planning. Meanwhile, Gold Medals might as well be stored in Shangri-La because they are fucking impossible to get and might even be a thing of myth.
This is, I feel, an example of a developer who got too good at their own game and lost sight of reality. This happens quite a lot in the indie marketplace, and I’ve even discussed this with some developers who feel the same way. In some games, like A Hard Game Without Zombies, the insane difficulty curve crippled whatever fun could be had out of it. Here, the ability to unlock the next stages only collecting the lowest-level medals takes a lot of the sting out. The guys at Doerai Games included videos of their speed runs that you can watch upon completing the level, to learn how it’s done, but I found these to be not always so useful. The truth is, getting gold medals requires a degree of absolute flawlessness that almost nobody will try to achieve. To get there you would practically have to dedicate your entire life for several months to Ninja360°. I would think Ninja Warrior training might be healthier.
For a while I felt I was in danger of getting bored, but once I gave up on pursuit of perfection I actually had a really good time playing Ninja360°. It’s fast paced, challenging, handles well, and is shockingly loaded in content for an 80MSP title. Sure, it’s a less acrobatic version of N, but I feel this is actually the better game and it’s priced to move. Besides, who doesn’t love ninjas? Besides the Shredder I mean. Oh Victor Ortega. And that pony-tailed dude from 3-Ninjas. And Rita Repulsa. Basically anybody evil. I bet Rupert Murdoch really hates ninjas.
Ninja360° was developed by DoeraiGames
80 Microsoft Points quoted an obscure reference to American Ninja in the making of this review.