Quick Look: Ninja, Please! for iPhone

Unfortunately, this is a fairly easy review to write, which is actually kind of bittersweet for me.  Technically, this game has it all.  80s arcade gun game play.  The silly “bad guys attack while innocents wander around aimlessly” level layout.  Guns, magic and insults as your weapons of choice.  Cheesy digitized graphics where backgrounds and characters may or may not blend.  The problem is, despite all this coolness, the game lacks any sort of difficulty balance.  That makes it nearly impossible to play after a point.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself now.  Let’s talk Ninja, Please!

Insult Time

Insult Time

You play the lone gunman, trying to take down a ninja clan that would just assume taunt you as shoot you.  Now don’t get me wrong – they will shoot you, so you might just want to level the playing field before that happens.  You start the game with a pretty much worthless pistol, but since it’s free you won’t be complaining.  As you take down ninjas you’ll earn money towards things like weapon upgrades and magic.  You can also earn money by insulting the ninjas, which is both more fun and more profitable.  I’ll discuss that more later on.  On the flip side, you can money when innocent bystanders dying.  And if you think you’re being extremely careful with your shots, don’t worry.  It won’t be you that dispatches the innocents most of the time.

The main allure to this game is the insult system.  When available, an arrow with the word insult will appear above a ninja’s head.  Being careful to tap the arrow, you will engage in a round of slinging hash.  If you start, you will lose.  This mode is just for you to learn the appropriate responses to the most heated insults.  If the ninja starts, you will only win if the retort to the ninja’s insult has already been revealed to you.  You will be presented with a list of retorts, and you either need to pick the one that goes with the insult or just pick one at random.  If you were able to select the appropriate retort you’ll earn $30 (and you can still shoot and kill the ninja for an extra $10).

Lift Him Up

Lift Him Up

Control in the game is primarily a matter of tapping.  You tap to shoot, tap to start an insult war, and tap to select choices during the insult war.  If you’re luck enough to afford magic, the electrocute and freeze spells work by tapping on the spell and then tapping on the recipient.  The only one that’s a bit different is levitation, where you drag the ninja you want to levitate and then let go once you have them where you want them.  The game does suffer a bit from “fat finger” syndrome (which I can say because I have fat fingers), but I haven’t run into too many shooters that didn’t.

The big problem I have with the game is in the balance of difficulty.  You start off with $100 and a free pistol, so all seems well.  The problem is that the least you need to spend to use a spell is $150 ($100 for the spell and $50 to buy some mana).  Health and bullets each cost $1 a unit.  The bare minimum for a gun upgrade is $200.  By the time you’ve theoretically racked up enough money to get a gun upgrade or buy a spell, you’ve wasted all that extra cash refilling your life and bullets.  Even if all I’m spending my money on is bullets (and life when I really have to), I’m out of bullets by the end of the 4th level.  No bullets and you’re dead.  Either the prices need to be more reasonable or there need to be power ups you can shoot to earn extra lives, bullets or money.

Not The Village People

Not The Village People

The visuals are lots of fun.  Whether or not they are, the characters have a digitized look to them, which for some reason reminds me of the old Sega Genesis game Pit Fighter.  The backgrounds look pretty good, though the characters don’t quite seem to fit with the backgrounds, adding to the cheese factor.  The silly animations of the innocents strolling back and forth doesn’t help any either.  The sound effects are pretty standard for the most part, but I do love the “woo-hoo” when a ninja first drops in.  There’s only one track for the music, yet for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on I really enjoy it.  That’s good, of course, since there is only one track.

Ninja, Please has the potential to be an incredible homage to those 80s arcade machines with the gun attachments.  The action is there, the graphics are solid, and the music is nice.  The insult system is a nice touch that even puts the game a step ahead of the rest.  However, the extreme difficulty sucks all the joy out of the game, especially when you know you’re going to consistently run out of ammo by the third or fourth level.  As I’ve said earlier, to me this feels more like a game imbalance than a true desire to make the game difficult.  As a result, until this problem is taken care of I sadly cannot suggest you spend your money on this game.

Final Verdict: Not Recommended
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