Epic Ninja Game Is Packed With Retro-Styled Ninjitsu Goodness [Review]


Deaths leave behind a gruesome remind of what came before
Deaths leave behind a gruesome remind of what came before

Arguably the App Store needs another ninja game like it needs another Flappy Bird clone. So what does the boldly-titled Epic Ninja Game offer that you don’t get from, say, Clumsy Ninja or Ninja Chaos?

Epic Ninja Game by Mathieu Roy
Category: iOS Games
Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Price: $1.99

To start answering that, let me explain a bit about the retro-styled platformer that is Epic Ninja Game. You play an unnamed ninjitsu who, waking up in a mysterious laboratory stripped of his magical ninja powers (!), has to travel through multiple stages to regain them.

At your disposal from the start are jumps and an endless supply of shurikens, but as you make your way through the game this expands to include an unlikely assortment of jet packs, invincibility power-ups, and laser eyes.

With 3 worlds and 90 levels to work through, you certainly get a lot of bang for your $1.99 — although it’s worth pointing out that some of the easier stages will, literally, take you around 20 seconds to complete.

There are some fun graphical touches. Most prominent are the range of death-dealing traps and obstacles on display, which result in surprisingly gory endings for your diminutive hero. Amusingly, the remnants of these deaths typically remains after you regenerate, so that tough levels will wind up looking like red-splattered paintball ranges by the time you finally finish them.

Movement is done using directional virtual buttons and a red “jump,” while firing shurikens is carried out by tapping the screen wherever it is that you wish to target. There will likely be a few gamers out there who think it is inexcusable that a new game — even one styled to look like a retro port — would dare feature virtual buttons, but for the most part I found the controls intuitive enough. There are a couple of exceptions: since much of the game involves leaping off precipices it would have been nice to include a “look up/look down” option which, as far as I can see it, is sadly absent. Some of the other controls are also not as well implemented as they could be. Take, for instance, the wall-rebound jump dynamics, which will be familiar to anyone who remembers playing as Knuckles in one of the later Sonic games during the mid-1990s. While this fits well within a ninja game setup, it is poorly executed in a way that feels disappointing for a genre that should be lightning-quick and agile.

Some genuinely inventive touches along the way.

In fact, lightning-quick and agile doesn’t really describe Epic Ninja Game at all — which the latest slew of App Store titles might fool you into thinking is going to be another endless runner, only to blindside you with what turns out to be an altogether more strategic game based on trial and error, and memorizing multiple level layouts. That isn’t a bad thing in itself, but it’s maybe a bit unexpected.

The real question about Epic Ninja Game is this: in a world where ports of classic 8- and 16-bit platformers are readily available, do you want to play a title that, while acceptable, wouldn’t have been a top dog in that era of gaming? There’s certainly a whole lot to like about what’s on display here, and there are some genuinely inventive touches along the way — along with a surprising level of difficulty. On the negative side, animation is stiff, and movement is sometimes a bit dodgy — with controls particularly exposed during a few of the faster-moving boss battles.

If not quite an “Epic” Ninja Game, certainly a fun one though.

Screen_Shot_2014-03-04_at_08(1)Game Name: Epic Ninja Game
The Good: Ninjas are always fun, while the game itself is surprisingly challenging.
The Bad: Controls can be a bit glitchy.
The Verdict: Perhaps not the “epic” it presents itself as, Epic Ninja Game is still a lot of fun.
Buy from: App Store