Ninja TD Review

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. The TD in the name “Ninja TD” stands for Tower Defense.

Now that half the audience has left with a groan, we can get on with the review.

The tower defense genre has quite a healthy representation on the iPhone. Should you care about another one? With a few unique twists, Ninja TD may very well be worth your attention.

Keep in mind that, when I use the phrase ‘unique twists,’ I haven’t played every tower defense game out there. If you think I’m wrong, please freak out about it in the comments.

img_0194Ninja TD is a beautiful game. It feels very complete, with quality graphics, unique creeps and menus that actually make sense. On the surface, it looks like it could have come from a big developer. But this is Crazy Carpenter’s only iPhone game. The only thing that gives it away is the Engrish peppered throughout the game. It doesn’t hurt the gameplay, and actually adds to the atmosphere a bit, in a Mr. Miyagi sort of way.

Ninja TD has five environments with six different levels in each. With two difficulty levels plus infinite mode on each map, you could say the game has 90 levels, and you would almost be right. The difficulty levels vary only in the amount of starting resources and the number of waves.

One thing I really liked about the level progression is that Ninja TD skips around a bit. Instead of progressing straight through each environment, you play two levels in one environment, and then skip to a different one for a bit.
img_0200Ninja TD gives you a unique skill system. In addition to the standard gold you’ll collect to purchase new ninjas (towers), you’ll also collect magic coins which allow you to cast five different spells. The first available spell drops a little tornado on the path that takes a creep back to the beginning, so it can come down the line and shake hands with all of your in-laws again. The second is a golden ninja who sits in the middle if the path and snags extra gold from the creeps as they expire.
These spells become essential to beating a level. For example, every tenth wave is a mini-boss. It’s often impossible to kill these bosses in one pass, but a properly placed tornado will spin the boss back to the beginning, so you can hammer away at it again. On one map, I got greedy and used the golden ninja too many times. At the end, I didn’t have enough magic points to spin the boss back, and I lost by one hit point. Ninja TD will teach you to plan intricate strategies the hard way.
Like the magic, you’ll open five different types of ninjas as you progress through the maps. The ninjas’ powers are similar to towers you’ll find in other tower defense games. You’ll start with two ninja types: the basic, single-shot ninja and a ninja that slows the creeps.
The new infinite mode adds a lot to the value of this game. I have my phone sitting next to me right now,  playing by itself on infinite mode. It took me up to about wave 108 to build the perfect army, with all of my img_0202ninjas maxed out on upgrades. Now it’s just kicking ass on wave 151. I just have to watch for bosses, because they’re so tough at this level that I still have to hit them with the tornado. It will be interesting when my maxed out army isn’t strong enough to stop the waves. Maybe by wave 300?
Problems? Sometimes, when the map is fully loaded with ninjas and creeps, the game lags a bit. When you’re depending on a well-placed magic spell to beat a level, lag can be a big problem. Out of frustration, I discovered a trick to get around those last-minute mistakes (yours or the game’s). I spent quite some time perfecting a map, only to lose on the last wave because of lag. I hit the home button and tossed my phone aside. When I went back to the game later, I started out at the beginning of the last wave, and was able to beat the level after all. Cheating? Maybe. But I don’t feel at all guilty when it’s lag that killed me the first time.
One other tiny complaint is that the interface obstructs the view of the edges of the map. On some maps, the path runs directly under the ninja icons. You can work around this by zooming in, but it might be better for Crazy Carpenter move the buttons or make them semi-transparent.
Aside from these two minor issues (and the Engrish, if you want to count it as a problem), Ninja TD is an excellent game.

Presentation & Graphics

Ninja TD looks and feels like a premium game, despite the indie developer and low price. The maps are detailed and challenging. The ninjas are cute. The creeps are extra creepy and original. One creep even walks on bent nails.


The music is generic RPG orchestra music, which isn’t a bad thing at all. The creeps all make interesting sounds when they die. Some plink or pop or shriek, but the best is the snort from the loping green lizard creature. I could just kill green lizard creatures all day long.

Ninja TD is very engrossing. It starts out almost too difficult. The first two or three levels had me questioning whether or not I wanted to keep playing. But after I got to know the little ninjas better, I couldn’t put it down. Until you really get the hang of things, this game will punish you. When you finally discover the best strategy and beat a map, you’ll feel like you’ve really accomplished something. Ninja TD is about as good as an iPhone tower defense game can get, right now, but for the lag.

The 30 maps and two difficulty levels and infinite mode will take quite some time to play through, but regardless of the number of levels, the game is just fun. You’ll want to go back and replay levels. You won’t open up all of the ninja and magic types until halfway through the maps, so it’s quite rewarding to go back to the beginning maps and clean house with the more powerful ninjas. Even though the game originally included plenty of content to keep you happy for quite some time, the developer has just added ten new maps and the endless mode. Of course, that usually means there will be more updates in the near future. What more could you ask?


I thoroughly enjoy playing Ninja TD. It’s a premium, full-featured game that stands out in a crowd. The imaginative characters and unique magic system give it more depth than I expected to see in yet another TD game. If it’s your first tower defense game or your tenth, Ninja TD should keep you happy for months. Wave 168 and counting!

Ninja TD – $.99 (at time of review)

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  • Matt Dunn, USA

    I play this game every night. It’s awesome, even if gameplay can get a bit dry after you unlock all the special abilities and units.

  • Dan

    I just picked it up last night. Can’t wait to dive in. I played the first level, so far so good.

  • dave leclair

    ive almost beat ninja td, its sooooo good


    looks good but i am not in a mood for td games right now.

  • boy_hantinh2010