Ninja Striker made its way to the Nintendo Switch eShop last month and being stealthy like a ninja I seemed to have missed its arrival and that will be my excuse for why this review is so late. Being released at a very reasonable $3.99 it is hard not to take a look at a game priced so low and ponder whether it is worth a purchase.
I can’t say I am exactly sure what genre the title is. At first glance it looks like a platformer, but that just wouldn’t be accurate. It’s more of a combo building high score chaser, with a few boss fights thrown in for good measure. Mix that with a charming 8 bit aesthetic and sound design and you have yourself quite an interesting title.
Now allow me to elaborate on the gameplay. The aim of the game is to reach the end of the level, but also to get the highest score. To do this you must utilize your characters abilities to combo from enemy to enemy without hitting the floor to build up a combo. The controls are simple. Standard movement, jump, double jump, homing attack and a unique attack depending on the character you pick. It made for a very interesting type of gameplay. Homing in on an enemy, jumping to avoid an attack and locking my sights on my next victim was very satisfying and it really did make me feel like a ninja.
I found myself breezing through the first half of the game, but also shocked at how low my star ranking was. This is a game that is easy to pick up, but difficult to master! Stringing together attacks on enemies isn’t the only way to build up your score. Collecting coins, avoiding damage and how long you take to beat a mission is important as well. These factors blend together and make getting that 3 star ranking a serious challenge on even some of the earlier levels and a seeming impossibility on later levels.
A bit of an odd addition to the mix are the bosses you fight. Personally I didn’t find these encounters to be that enjoyable. The aim of the game is the same in these levels. You’ll want to build up the best score by avoiding the ground and taking damage, but for the most part I found that a lot of the bosses really felt quite similar in their approach and how you approach them. It’s not to say that they were particularly bad, but I never felt excited to reach a new one.
That is essentially Ninja Striker in a nutshell. It’s an easy to learn, but difficult to master title. However there is a bit more to talk about. The game offers four different characters to play as each with different stats and special attacks that make it worth playing through the game again. I found the standard Ninja and Kunoichi to be fairly similar in playstyle, but the Chain Sickle and Robot Ninja played very differently to their comrades and were even harder to master. It is safe to say that if the premise of this game is something that appeals to you then there will be a great selection of content for you to sink you teeth into. For others who aren’t quite as hooked playing through once might be enough.
The level design is bright, colourful and very pleasing to the eyes. You’ll go through woods, caves, castles and other Japan inspired locales as you progress. The soundtrack is the typical 8 bit ensemble and might not stand out, but certainly accomplishes what is was meant to.
I found myself playing Ninja Striker in handheld mode the most. It is a great little game to crack out for short bursts as each level only lasts a little over a minute and if you are just playing through to beat each level and not go for a high score then they all feel very similar, but of course vary greatly when you really break things down and want to get that 3 star ranking.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Ninja Striker! was provided by Circle Entertainment.