A few years ago I happened upon a demo of Mini Ninjas. I was immediately drawn in by the visually striking artwork, ambient music and adorable characters. Unfortunately the full game was too expensive to buy at the time but from my recent trip to the PlayStation store I recently discovered that it has been reduced to a fiver. If you like unique graphics, inventive gameplay and a story that is more of a relaxing ride as opposed to a series of hardcore challenges then this is the game for you. And for the low price of five pounds, you are guaranteed good value for money.
You start of as a ninja (funnily enough) tasked with the challenge of defeating the evil samurai lord and in doing so, restore peace to the land. Along the way you must free your friends who have been captured by the samurai. Each ninja you free joins your party and becomes a playable character. There are six characters in total, each with their own set of skills and powers. Your starting character is your standard ninja, trained in stealth and swordsmanship. The second is your heavy duty ninja, outfitted with a massive wooden hammer and possessing brute strength. You then have your first female ninja who specializes in agility, as well as using her magical flute to hypnotize enemy ninjas. The fourth ninja is the long ranged expert, equipped with bow and arrows. The fifth and by far the most amusing ninja is Tora, who believes he is tiger. Outfitted with metal claws, he runs around on all fours, attacking enemies with fervent ferocity. The last but by no means the least, is a spear wielding chick who is particularly useful at tackling large crowds. What is more impressive than the characters themselves is the way that you can combine them together to your advantage in battle. Certain situations and battles challenge you to determine which character is best suited to overcome it, depending on their particular skill set.
What I particularly enjoy about this game is the lack of violence. There is no blood or gore. Each enemy you defeat is transformed into an animal. As well as appeasing my childhood love of Sonic The Hedgehog with the freeing of the captured animals at the end of the level, it seems to explore ideas of reincarnation. Now I am no buddhist by any means but I do enjoy the idea of sword wielding samurai being turned into furry, cuddly creatures. It is both amusing and down right cool. This is not the only humorous aspect of the game. There are several giggle inducing sections of the game, including a boss who uses farts as an attack, samurais who run around shouting mini ninjas every time they seen you and highly amusing evil warlord cutscenes.
As well as interchangeable characters, there are a whole range of quirky design features that stop the game from becoming a simple hack and slash. Throughout each level of the game you will come across shrines hidden in certain areas of the map. A specific flower must be found to activate the shrine. Once activated the main man Hiro will be able to learn a spell. These spells can then be used in battle against enemies. Only Hiro can use these spells but personally I think this is a good thing because it makes the game a tad more challenging. A hat is also provided at the start of the game which can be used as either a helmet against arrows or as a boat on water. I spent the majority of my time in the game, sailing around in the hat/boat, giddily excited by the novelty of the design.
As much as I would like to go on about this game all day long, I don’t want to give away too much. I want people to experience the sheer awesomeness of it themselves. What I will say is that if you are looking for a quirky, enjoyable, amusing and eye pleasing adventure then you can look no further then Mini Ninjas.
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