July 6, 2012

Be a Ninja

Lasting First Impressions of Mini Ninjas Adventures from SQUARE ENIX

Mini Ninjas boxart» Back in 2009, Eidos introduced us to the Mini Ninjas, cute and vertically challenged Ninjas in an adventure game that was well received.  Hoping to recapture the humour and family-oriented adventures, Square Enix asked developer Side Kick to craft a new, unique title specifically for Microsoft Kinect.  The result is Mini Ninjas Adventures, an interesting take on a Kinect-only title.  I honestly didn’t even know this game was in development until I learned of its release last Friday.  I was able to get hold of a review copy of the game and I sat down with it, er…well, I stood up to it and gave it a try not knowing what to expect.  Most Kinect titles lately have left me wanting more, or just simply didn’t work they way they were meant to, but Mini Ninjas Adventures as been designed with a very simply approach that seems to work well for it.

Mini Ninjas Adventures in essence harkens back to the vertical shooters of days gone by but is still an action adventure game.  The titular character remains at the bottom of the screen at all times and moves back and forth when you walk left and right in front of the Kinect sensor.  The enemies will appear at the top of the screen, in multiple waves, and make their way to the bottom where you will attack them using several different attacks: sword, bow and arrow, ninja stars, and magic.  Build up enough action points and you will also have the opportunity to shout “Ninja!” to bring out your mini ninja friends to lay waste to the current onscreen enemies.  Clear all the waves of a level and you move on to the next after having the opportunity to upgrade your skills.

Mini Ninjas screen 1The controls for battle are very straight forward:

  • Sword: Reach behind you with your right and to grab your sword and swing it back and forth just as you’d swing a sword.
  • Bow & Arrow: Reaching behind you with your left hand switches to your bow and arrow.  Holding your left hand straight out and pulling back and forth with your right shoots arrows. It took me some time to figure this one out but ultimately it was more of a motion like pretending to paint your left arm with your right hand that made the arrows fly fast.
  • Throwing Stars: Reach straight out to the side with both hands to select your ninja stars and throw them with each hand just as you would imagine you’d throw real ninja stars.
  • Magic: When your magic meter is full, clap your hands in front of you to select the spell and then push straight forward to unleash the power.
  • Kick: Uh…Kick. Pretty self-explanatory. This will send the enemy flying backwards, good for those pesky kamakaze ninjas ready to detonate a barrel in your face or stun the shield carrying enemies so you can defeat them with your sword.

For a Kinect title, one might be inclined to think these controls are sketchy at best and the typical “Kinect Forgiveness” may come into play here, but Mini Ninjas Adventures actually works and works well.  Not once did I find myself having to repeat an action to make it work; the response was fast and accurate and exactly what I was trying to do.

Mini Ninjas screen 2

Mini Ninjas Adventures consists of 3 worlds with 8 levels in each world.  During my review time with the game I was able to complete the entire first world, including the obligatory world boss.  By the time I reached the boss, every action I had learned up to this point was put to very good use and quick thinking was required to successfully complete the battle.  It was evident that the levels in this game would continue to grow more challenging as the game progressed but still remain enjoyable and achievable even by the younger players.

Mini Ninjas Adventures joins a very small list of titles that proves that well designed Kinect controls can work successfully and still deliver an enjoyable game.  It may not be a long game, but this title will provide a few hours of truly active fun for the whole family.

Square Enix, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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