What is a chop chop ninja, anyways?
Chop Chop Ninja World has a somewhat quirky title. Chop Chop Ninja, the first release in the series, is part of an entire line of “Chop Chop” games. The Ninja part is self-explanatory, and I suppose we can chalk the “Chop Chop” up to poor branding. The World part of the title is the most significant distinguisher, as it seeks to establish a link between ‘Chop Chop Ninja World’ and Super Mario World.
As unlikely as it may sound, Chop Chop Ninja World does a good job of representing the ideals of its namesake. Sadly, the limitations of the platform and current conventions in game pricing place the game in a compromised position.
You play the Ninja, the one person capable of restoring an entire kingdom. Much like Mario titles, the game breezes through its story in favor of thrusting the player into the action. The game is set across a series of levels and challenges in which the player leaps across platforms and engages in combat. Battle is a simple affair in Chop Chop Ninja World, one that largely consists of tapping as rapidly as one can on enemies to destroy them. Movement and jumping are also handled via taps on the screen, making it easy to misstep in a game that sometimes requires precision leaping. The game’s page on the app store makes sure that prospective players understand how much of the device’s power Chop Chop Ninja World requires. The game certainly ran poorly on my iPhone 4 to the point where stutters would interfere with combat or platforming. Outside of the game’s neat physics system, I don’t see where the graphical tradeoff is coming from.
The game did perform well on my iPad 4th generation, but that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Some of the art assets didn’t seem up to retina quality, and the larger screen reveals some shortcuts in things like design of dialogue boxes. I even had a strange bug where a story player was swapped out with a grunt and I could not progress.
Chop Chop Ninja World isn’t just a simple Mario homage with combat and some hitches in technical implementation, though. The game also solves one of my problems with the Mario franchise, one that we saw magnified in the recently release New Super Mario Brothers 2. What the hell are all the coins for?
Ninja World gives the player something to do with accrued coins, and that is the restoration of their kingdom. It takes something that was meaningless and tired in other games, and attaches a more exciting prospect to it. Players use gold to purchase buildings, decorations, and items. The game has a small scale city building simulation bolted on to a Mario style platformer. Once I realized exactly what the developer had done, I was excited about the possibilities. This isn’t a new idea; Act Raiser was a pioneer in the simulation + action platformer arena ages ago on the Super Nintendo. Still, Chop Chop Ninja World is one of very few games that attempt to walk this genre bending line.
The game is mostly successful in its genre mashup, and I found that the ties between the two modes were sufficient to keep me interested in furthering my progress within the simulation layer. I was also very happy with the puzzle elements the game introduces a few levels in. I don’t think Chop Chop Ninja World has the level of control needed to stand fully on its own as an action platformer, and nor does it have the depth of interaction to stand by itself as a city builder. I won’t say that the game is greater than the sum of its parts, but it is fair to say that it benefits from being a hybrid experience.
I wish I could leave it at this. Chop Chop Ninja World is a decent game with technical problems, a lack of necessary precision in control, and some fresh ideas, and for all of that I can say the game is okay. However the freemium nature of the game can’t be ignored. I have certainly had my share of struggles with both freemium games, and paid games that include additional paid elements. Chop Chop Ninja World is free, and if it remains free I can’t begrudge it for asking the player for money during the game experience. However; ads are entirely too obtrusive in the game. I have accidentally clicked through several times- which is quite a game breaking experience. Ads pop up without warning, fill the entire screen, and force you to rotate your device. I have even been shot to Safari without clicking on anything.
The other freemium elements in the game I can bear, even though I found myself running out of potions suspiciously quickly I do think this is the kind of game you can get most of the way through for free and without sitting around waiting for a bar to fill up. The ads, though, are crippling. Can I just pay $.99 to be rid of them and have a smoother game experience? I searched for quite a while looking for that option, but it doesn’t seem to be present. Maybe it says something about Chop Chop Ninja World that I would want to do that.