Mini Ninjas

This review is for the PS3 version of the game, but it is also available for XBox 360, Wii, DS, and PC.

Mini Ninjas is a refreshing change from all the overly serious games being made nowadays – a light-hearted game designed exclusively to be fun.

The basics

Mini Ninjas takes place in a land where an evil Samurai has risen to power and is building a massive army of Samurai warriors to take over the entire land. The magic he is using to do this is causing the world to be angry, with storms and earthquakes constantly. You play as Hiro, the last Ninja from the Ninja village who is sent to find out two things. First of all, what is causing all the problems with nature, and second to find out what has happened to all of your ninja friends who were also sent to find out #1. As you play through the game, you learn new magic to use as Hiro, and you rescue Hiro’s friends, who you can then choose to swap between at any point in the game.

The game is a ninja action game with light rpg elements. These elements are in the form of a leveling system that gives you bonuses as you progress. For example, gaining a level may give you some extra magic to use. The leveling system isn’t intrusive, and at no point do you feel like you need to grind to progress, which is one of the things that keeps the game feeling quick and fun. Nothing in this game takes itself too seriously, which leads to the creation of an adorably fun game.

And the game invokes that pokemon-esque ‘gotta catch ’em all’ feeling by adding a massive host of collectible things in each level, from freeing animals from cages to little statues hidden around the levels.

Ninja Action!

The combat itself is pretty simple, you have two types of regular attacks – a damaging attack and a stun attack. And you have two types of special abilities, magic/items and your power attack. Only Hiro can use magic, but there are things like shurikens and bombs that all of the ninjas can use so they don’t feel weak despite that. Each Ninja has its own power attack, an attack that he can use to devastate enemies. The enemies are relatively easy, which can leave hardcore gamers feeling a little unchallenged. And some of the bosses use quick-time moves in stead of regular combat to beat them, which helps to make it feel like you’re not beating these huge bosses with a quick swing of your sword.

The magic is integrated very well, despite only being available to Hiro. Spells include a fireball, tornadoes, and the ability to take over small animals and run around using them. This is handy for finding collectables as the animals have heightened senses which make these items appear to have a purplish cloud around them.

The final aspect of the gameplay is a very simple crafting system to let you make potions out of some of the things you find in the levels. You buy the recipes from temples using the coins you can find. This lends a nice dynamic to the gameplay because the potions can do things from heal you to make you automatically deflect arrows for a time.

“Aww… its sooo cute!”

This game, much like Little Big Planet for the PS3, is a game that is perfect to get for kids, girlfriends, or wives – just due to the simplicity and cuteness of it. Everything in this game is adorable, from the characters themselves, to the little animals, the scenery, and even most of the enemies. The graphics are reasonably high quality, with quite a good draw distance, minimal pop-in, and a nice thematic quality to the entire graphics scheme. Everything fits.

The voice acting is over the top, but fun. Everyone has these exceptionally exaggerated Japanese accents which makes you laugh and which really fits the world they’ve built. The audio itself is pretty good quality, with sound effects that are fitting and are pleasant on the ears.

Last thoughts

Overall, Mini Ninjas is a brilliantly fun game that is definitely worth a play no matter what type of gamer you are. Everything works together nicely to make the game just simply fun. Its not going to win any awards for its story, its graphics, or its audio; but none of these aspects are bad. What makes this game special is the above. Its just fun. And with all the collectables, and the trophy system, it has a nice layer of replayability and addictive fun.

The game doesn’t do anything particularly new or revolutionary, but it certainly does feel fresh and unique due to the fact that it is just designed for fun.

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