Mini Ninjas iOS review
The art of making a video game great these days is one which has become more complicated in recent years. Big budget AAA titles with movie-like narratives and life-like motion capture surely have eclipsed the smaller games on mobile platforms right? Well, no. In the case of Mini Ninjas it proves that like pint sized protagonist Hiro, a true greatness can come in the smallest packages.
Going into Mini Ninjas you could be forgiven for thinking that it is just another cutesy arcade money-spinner from a major developer on the App Store. After playing it a couple of times you realise that behind the pleasant veneer of the colourful environment lies an extremely solid and addictive game which you will struggle to put down.
This mobile version of Square Enix’s 2009 multi-platform release has been altered from being a third-person adventure into a side-scrolling runner, a decision that makes perfect sense for the mobile format and is all the more fun for it. Mini Ninjas possesses a lot a similarities with other excellent runner titles on the App Store, the game play here is akin to the likes of Jetpack Joyride and Halfbricks other addictive gem, Monster Hunter. The aim of the game is to simply jump over obstacles and use your sword to defeat enemies that are in your path.
Run Ninja, run!
With such a simple premise it would be easy to fall into the pitfall of keeping the player interested, but Square Enix have taken a leaf out of similar successes elsewhere and made sure this is not the case. At the end of each game your score will be determined by how far you get in your run; the longer the distance the higher the score. This system gives Mini Ninjas a perfect arcade feel and encourages repeat plays as you seek to beat your high score, or others if you can tear yourself away from it.
A runner title on the App Store would not be complete without the all-important power up. Mini Ninjas has them in spades and they come in the clever form of your sidekick ninjas. As opposed to giving you a standard extra speed, magnet or brutal force power up, the power ups will change your character for a limited time to a ninja with a specific ability. With four friends (power ups) available, they mix things up and really help you in boosting that all-important score.
Outside of the main game Mini Ninjas also possess an upgrade store in the form of the Dojo where you can buy new costumes, potions and Kuji Spells using coins collected in game to help you get better equipment and look awesome at the same time. There is also a mission hub that challenges players to complete certain tasks while playing in reward for extra bonuses. Of course they are completely optional, but thoroughly recommended for an addictive and challenging game on the go.
Mini Ninjas is far from a revolutionary game. It borrows elements that have worked for others and maintains the same high standards set previously in the runner genre. It is simply a solid and addictive game that leaves you wanting more after each play. This reason alone puts it up there with some of the best titles on the App Store today, a piece of bite sized brilliance which epitomises the essence of what makes a game great – simplicity.