Star-Fired Beef

Steam Challenge – Mini Ninjas

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This is part of my Steam Challenge Series (the full list is here).

Time played: 2 hours

I liked Mini Ninjas. Well, okay, I liked the idea of Mini Ninjas. Why couldn’t I stick with it?

The reviews I read on Steam before I played, mentioned the phrase “children’s game” fairly regularly. I assumed that the main reason was the art aesthetic – it’s very much reminiscent of a children’s cartoon show. Even though the game is all about violence – you are a ninja, after all – there is no blood or gore or even death. The samurai minions you defeat are cursed forest animals, and “killing” them merely lifts the curse, changing them back into their former selves. Again, an argument that the game is directed at children.

I didn’t buy those reasons. I was determined to have as much, if not more fun as an adult being a Mini Ninja than the children it was allegedly developed for. At first, I did. The tutorial was good, the mechanics seemed solid, and it was cute as hell. But as I progressed through the first few chapters of the game, it felt more and more like a chore. Things that I had previously been fine with started to irritate me. Not long after the first boss fight, I was struggling to care about the game at all. I am fairly confident that I had seen almost everything the game had to offer by then, that the later chapters were simple variations on the first ones.

Ultimately, it did end up feeling like a children’s game to me. The presentation was there, but depth was lacking…practically nonexistant. As a ninja I expected stealthy gameplay, but I found that I could simply wade into battle, charging headlong into a fortified position, greatly outnumbered, and still come out on top. There was no incentive to avoid combat. The great variety of consumable weapons and spells were clumsy to use and rarely powerful enough to justify the headache of menu management mid-combat. The boss fights were quicktime events. The overly-stereotypical “old master” voicework that most npcs had, grew irritating very quickly.

I guess I was expecting and wanting something much deeper and more complex than what Mini Ninjas offers. As I said, I liked it, it is not a bad game at all on its own merits, but it was not what I was after in a game like this.

Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting

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