Based on authentic ninja values!
I cringed when I saw the name ‘Mini Ninjas’ on the iOS release list. Not because Mini Ninjas is a bad game, but because I wasn’t sure how well the 2009 action adventure game would fare in the transition to a touch-based platform. Fortunately this is not the original Mini Ninjas, but an infinite runner that bears the thematic elements of its namesake.
Being an infinite runner has its own implications on iOS, and not always positive ones at that. There are just too many games of this subgenre of traditional platformer to choose from on iOS (see Jetpack Joyride and Rayman Jungle Run) and those of a lesser quality are quickly left behind. It seems as if the default choice for many franchises or properties migrating to iOS is to make an infinite runner, and many of them come across as sub-par cash grabs.
Mini Ninjas is a stereotypical 2D infinite runner, but not a bad one. The controls are tight, there are a couple of options for movement, plenty of collectibles, and the game even has some rudimentary combat (tap to kill). The timing for jumps, wall-runs, and attacking are all spot-on, and they give the game the feel of an action title while retaining iOS friendly tap controls. The player can also access special characters during the course of a run who have powers such as hovering or smashing rocks. Items collected in game can be used to buy outfits, spells and even craft potions.
The visuals also stand out in Mini Ninjas; the game looks and runs beautifully on a 4th generation iPad. I did find that in their desire to add visual complexity, the objects that developers have added in the foreground tend to clutter the screen and add confusion to the game. There are enough obstacles to contend with in the plane of the game that an extra plane of non-interactive objects in the foreground feels like overkill.
I was surprised by how much of the game is available for free. Mini Ninjas does present the player with the option to continue their run for gold, gold that can be purchased with real-world money. In fact, most things in the game can be had for gold. I found that opting not to continue one’s run allowed for enough gold accrual to purchase items at a reasonable pace. None of the items are necessary to enjoy the game, some are just for looks and some help you improve your score. Of course, injecting pay options into a score based game throws off the entire balance.
If you are just playing Mini Ninjas for a quick diversion and don’t get caught up in the implications that a paid system has on the scoring you are in for a treat. Those who want to sink tons of time and money into the title certainly can. I’d say that Square Enix has done a much better job at publishing a much better free to play title than they have in the past.
Mini Ninjas is available for free as a Universal app.