I-Ninja
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, PS2, GC
Publisher
Namco
Developer
Argonaut
Genre
Platformer
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Animated Blood, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Excellent level variety
• Fine challenge
• Humorous voicework
• Large, intricate levels

The Bad

• Can be brutally hard for casual gamers
• Camera can get hung in rare instances

 
Grade
A-

I-Ninja plays itself well as a mockery of other ninja flicks and games. As soon as you understand that, you're sure to enjoy yourself with the theme that the game exhibits. Storywise, players find themselves on a world where the evil Master O-Dor and his army of Ranx have wiped out almost all of your ninja clan. The game starts with a great-looking CG sequence where your rookie ninja gains his Ninja Berserk Rage and accidentally kills his Sensei.

After this point, your deposited on the first stage, Robot Beach, which acts as a hub to a series of stages. Along with Robot Beach are the pirate-themed Bomb Bay, Jungle Falls, Mountain Gorge and Moon Base. Each hub comes with stages that players will need to defeat. After finishing each stage, players earn a Grade and once you collect enough of the grades, you will earn a new belt. Earning new belts is how you'll be able to fight the next boss fight and then be allowed to move onto the next hub area.

The ninja's abilities fall under the standard set of controls for this type of game. The A Button jumps and even performs a double jump. Once in the air, you can press the B Button to hover with your sword. Your ninja also comes equipped with a chain and hook that can be used to snag Chain Points and swing you over to other platforms. Once you get into combat, the X Button is a fast attack while the B Button serves as a spin attack. The Y Button throws shurikens, once you find them, and during combat you can perform special attacks by pulling off button combos. Once you locate some explosive darts, hold down the Left Trigger and use them with the X Button.

Throughout the game, players will pick up four Ninja Rage abilities, including a berserker rage, the ability to heal and a brutal flying shuriken. To be able to use these abilities, each one fills like a gauge when the ninja either takes or delivers damage. Once full, these abilities can be activated by pressing in the appropriate direction on the D-Pad.

Do not be confused - I-Ninja is not all about the combat. Probably the strongest aspect of the game for me is the large variety of level designs. You won't be forced to play the same types of levels over and over to get more grades. Players will be challenged to roll an explosive barrel to a goal, given a cannon to defend a beach from enemy ships or forced to race a lit fuse to explosives. Some levels will provide a handful of platforms, rails to grind, kick jumps between walls, or even walls to run along, as seen in other games (Shinobi, Devil May Cry 2). On top of this, mid-boss and main boss fights prove to be varied and fun as well. The first boss fight plays out like a robot styled boxing mini-game.

And what would a platformer be without stuff to collect. Unlike other games that force you to collect everything, you only find yourself picking up Coins and Ranx scalps from defeated enemies. Also, once you've defeated stages, you can return for new challenges, like killing all the enemies in a stage or beating it within a certain time limit. You'll also find Ninja Guardians who will provide tests for money.

The game world itself looks pretty nice. Locations are large, often with many things going on at once. Visual and lighting effects are used well to accent the themed locations. While the textures used may not be overly detailed (like in more serious titles), they work just fine with the well-executed level of detail needed to pull off the game world. Characters are oddly designed but go along well with the ninja-theme. The animation is loose without being sloppy.

The audio package nicely compliments the graphics. Sound effects and music go along well with the theme and feel appropriately executed during the scheme of the game. One of the stronger aspects is the rather humorous voice work that plays up the ninja-theme without being heavy handed. The humor may not be high brow, but it's always good for a quick laugh while you're working your way through.

The only technical aspect I found needed a little more polish was the in-game camera, which is usually automatic, but can be controlled by the right analog stick. There were times when the camera wouldn't move from a set spot or would move too slowly on its own, making certain sections of the game more challenging than they needed to be. And considering the brutal challenge available, players don't need any more "help". Platformer die-hard will enjoy the difficulty that I-Ninja can throw at you, but more casual gamers may be turned off by some serious testing of your platforming skills.

If you're looking for a nice action/platformer that throws a good variety of challenges your way, I-Ninja should fit the bit nicely. The inherent humor and healthy challenge should serve most platform fans nicely.

- - Kinderfeld

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