Go Ninja in Review – Ninja And Samurai Don’t Mix

You’d think by now that “infinite runner” games might be a bit stale.  Well, maybe you wouldn’t, but I certainly have thought that from time to time.  As I play through GoNinja I’m once again reminded that this theory isn’t necessarily true.  Depending on the atmosphere, a perpetually moving protagonist on a constantly scrolling and somewhat generic background can still be entertaining.  Apparently, a merciless ninja slicing down everything that crosses his path is just such a scenario.  It works just fine for me, at least.

It seems that your village has been overrun with demon possessed samurai, and it’s up to you to stop them all.  Now why someone would employ 50,000 samurai and only 1 ninja is beyond me, but there you have it.  As this is an infinite runner you’ll be constantly running, though you have the power to make your ninja jump whenever you wish by tapping the screen.  Two quick taps performs a double jump, and swiping down supposedly allows you to jump off of buildings, though often this movement seems to act just like a jump.  Besides being able to jump onto rooftops you can actually enter buildings if you time your jumps just right, so you get some feeling of layers even though it’s a 2D game.

Along the way you’ll take on many adversaries.  Anyone standing at the ready can be dispatched without a concern – you attack automatically when you’re close enough.  Red flashing practice dummies must be avoided as they will explode on contact, and pits in the ground are automatic death as well.  Samurai that actually have their weapons drawn usually must be avoided, though there are times where I seem to be able to defeat them by striking them from behind.  However, I think you might need to the shield in order to accomplish that.

Speaking of which, there are 3 power-ups that you have access to.  A meter is always filling up, and the first time it gets full you get a bomb that will destroy everything on the screen.  If you ignore that and let it fill up again you get temporary invincibility (adios exploding dummies!)  If you can tough it out, the last power up is a shield that remains in effect until the first time you collide with something bad.  At the completion of each game you earn ninja points, and when you have enough you can buy upgrades to your helmet or special bonus powers.  Most of these things cost a decent amount of ninja points, so be prepared to play a lot or dish out some real cash for IAP.  I prefer the former method myself.

The graphics are good, with some nice details in the background.  It does begin to feel a bit like the Flintstones after a while, which is to say a little more variety would be nice.  Maybe even take it out of the village for a while.  The characters look good, though aside from the evil red glares in their faces your adversaries are almost a bit too cute to be taken seriously.  And, unlike your hero, they could stand to be animated just a bit.  Despite the cuteness factor there is definitely enough blood to go around, but the game moves quickly enough that you have to be paying attention to really notice it.

Sound effects are a decent mixture of boards breaking and sword slicing for the most part.  The bad guys don’t make a peep unless they’re dying, at which point they often sound a bit like a gargling Schwarzenegger.  The music is okay, but much like the background it gets repetitive after a while.  A couple of distinct themes would liven things up quite a bit in that department.

I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but GoNinja doesn’t really add anything to its genre.  Instead, it provides a nice, solid example of what the genre is all about.  The ninja / samurai theme is cool, and I like the ability to run through buildings as well as the progressive power up system.  I would like to see a bit more variety both in the locale and in what you’re up against, and some more tunes would be great.  Overall Go Ninja will mainly satisfy those who have never tried this type of game or ones that are looking for the next infinite running fix.  If you’re burnt out on or don’t like this style of game play, Go Ninja won’t change your mind.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: GoNinjaDeveloper: Hiptic
Reviewed Ver:Min OS Req:4.3.0
Price:FreeApp Size:
  • Simple, solid infinite running
  • Fun to run through buildings
  • Ninja and samurai are cool
  • Decent graphics
  • Needs more variety
  • Slashing down often responds like a jump
  • Needs better music
  • Gets sluggish on iPod Touch 4

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