Developer: Open Emotion Studios
Release Date: 07/05/2011
Ninjamurai is the newest addition to the Mini line-up for PSP/PS3 from Open Emotion Studios. The game is a 2D sidescrolling platformer that you can play on the PSP or PS3 systems. It seems to get its inspiration from such games as Shinobi, Ninja Gaiden, and a little bit of Sonic thrown into the mix. With that out of the way, this game is by far not a clone of any of the previously mentioned games. The multifaceted combat scheme is one of the unique features in this mini that you will love to hate.
The game starts out with you taking control of Takezou Nishimura, otherwise known as the Ninjamurai. Ninjamurai, what the heck is that? He is a warrior born of an unnatural union between a ninja and a samurai. Shunned by both worlds, our hero grows up in a monastery learning numerous ways to kill people. He combines the stealth of the ninja and the swordsmanship of the samurai to form his own unique fighting style. His sensei is killed by the evil Black Armour Corporation and he is out to avenge his death! The story is a bit lacking in that it’s your typical revenge tale, the dialogue seems to not fit the character at all, and our hero seems to have no emotional connection with those helping him. Although the story is a bit lacking there is plenty to do in this game with 20 levels, a few boss fights, two difficulty settings, five unique ability costumes, and two additional play modes. One thing for sure, Open Emotion did make sure that the game had enough to do, unlike some $60 games I have played recently.
The graphics are similar to your typical cel – shaded, painted artwork look. It works well for the game, but the characters have very minimal animations which make the game a bit bland. The developers did state that this game started out as a flash project which may explain some of the disappointing animations. Platforms seem to just vanish when you step on them instead of wobbling and then falling like in most platformer games. Due to this it makes the game seem out-dated and very old-school. Now they may have been what the developer was going for, but it definitely sticks out.
The music in the game is much more than expected from a game this size. There were tunes that had that Japanese flair that fits the basis of the game and then there is the out there song that is played during the credits. The sound effects though seem to be from the old-school battery operated handheld games of our youth. Don’t get me wrong, they all sound great when you go through the sound test feature, but they just don’t seem to fit the game. I recommend turning the sound effects off and just playing with the cool music.
Let’s talk about gameplay, here is where the love to hate feeling comes in! First off the controls, you use the D-pad to play and the X button to jump. Triangle is used to switch between ninja mode and samurai mode. In Ninja “stealth” mode, you are able to move with much greater speed and have the ability to perform a double jump at the expense of having a weaker and slower attack. The attack is a bit frustrating as it is just a slow strike with your sword. Stealth also allows you to turn invisible and walk through enemies undetected. Samurai “attack” mode allows you to perform stronger and quicker attacks at the expense of having limited jumping capabilities. The attack here is a three hit combo that seems to only get in two of the three hits. You will find yourself constantly switching between the two modes based on what kind of situation you are in. The jumping ability is actually quite good, the longer you hold down the button determines power, distance and the angle of your jumps. Using square causes your character to attack and circle makes him throw kunai. Now for an experienced gamer these controls are easy to adjust to, for an inexperienced or younger gamer, you will need to play around with them until you can figure them out. Expect to die a lot, due to this.
Now your character has a health bar and a chakra bar. Using either attack mode drains your chakra bar a bit, but it replenishes over time as you do damage to your enemies. If you choose to use your special attack which clears away all enemies on the screen, this will take a full chakra bar. Along the way your hero can find health and kunai pick-ups. Use these to replenish your health and store the kunai for ranged attacks. Now one thing about the combat I found a bit frustrating is respawning at the nearest checkpoint after dying. The enemies near this checkpoint will always get a shot in and you won’t see it coming due to the mission start logo that appears. There a few other annoying bugs in this game, but they are easy to overlook due to the fact that this is A. a Mini and B. the game is quite enjoyable if you overlook its flaws.
After beating the story mode, two more play modes unlock, Time Attack and Survival. Time Attack offers the player the option to go through each level and see how fast you can make it through. You can also replay the game in “Hard’ mode which removes the health pickups, checkpoints and have a limited number of kunai. The game includes trophies, so getting them all will require multiple play throughs.
Finally the game is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Blood and Violence. The blood is minimal and isn’t very realistic and the enemies just flash and disappear when you defeat them. With that in mind I think that parents would be okay with their child playing this game with minimal supervision. Although some reading is required and again the controls may take some getting adjusted to, this game in my opinion is family friendly.Overall – 85% Story – 7/10 Graphics – 8/10 Sound – 8/10 Gameplay – 9/10 Replay Value – 8/10 Family Friendly – 8/10
My review not enough for you to go out and download the game. Well keep in mind that its a great value at $1.99. Also I have added the release trailer for your viewing pleasure.
Part time employee of a major video game retailer.