Another ninja game? What is wrong with us iPhone users? This is the third game I review based on ninjas, and I am feeling a bit tired of ninjas to tell you the truth. Thankfully Card Ninja is a fresh game despite the theme.
Card Ninja is all about flicking cards from a pile at surrounding targets. The card pile lies on a table in the centre of the screen. The targets are either stationary or moving, and are placed along the edges of the screen. The cards have different colours and symbols, and you have to match them to the correct targets. Each level has predetermined objectives, either match colour, symbols or both. There are three rounds of increasing difficulty for each level. You have to reach a certain score for each level to continue. Flicking cards correctly give you one point for each card, and you also get a point for every second you have left once all cards have been thrown. You get point deductions for hitting the wrong target as well as evil wildcards lower your score.
The game quickly increases the demands on your ability to decide which card to flick where. As targets start moving it also becomes a matter of quick reflexes and aiming. I find it much easier to match colours then to match symbols. When I have to match symbols as well as hitting moving targets with 18 cards in 10 seconds it all becomes really intense.
Flicking cards feel really natural in Card Ninja. The controls are spot on, and when I miss it is my own fault. I love it when a game manages to mimic natural motions this well.
Presentation is good, and the worn look of the saucer the pile of cards is placed on is really realistic. The menu music has a nice Asian flair to it, and sound effects are top notch. I haven’t tried flicking cards to confirm it but I am guessing they have got the sound rights.
No game is without flaws, and sadly Card Ninja has three major flaws lowering the score significantly.
Flaw one: There is only one game mode available. You have to restart from zero each time it is game over, and I would love to be able to start at harder settings right away. I would also like a mode without scoring; just flicking cards at targets would be a good way to practise.
Flaw two: There is no high score list available, local or online, and that really hurts a game that is all about scoring. Nothing to unlock or achieve either, what you see is what you get.
Flaw three: You can cheat in Card Ninja. You can always save the game after each level, and that save lives on until you get game over. If you are doing poorly in a round simply press the hold button, and when you go back to the game you can start the last round again bettering your score.
It is hard to score a game such as Card Ninja. The game mechanic works brilliantly, the game play is intense, it has a subtle humour drawing you in, and presentation is nice. On the other hand basic must-haves are missing from the game. Not recording high scores is totally eliminating the frenzy of beating scores. Hopefully the developer will update Card Ninja, and add more modes and eliminate cheating in the future. I have to score the total experience of Card Ninja, and sadly those flaws are hurting the game. It is not a bad game in it’s current state but it could have been great.