With literally millions of games flooding the iOS app store and Android devices Google Play service it’s getting increasingly hard to tell the good from the downright right.
Luckily, Ninja Sprint is one that stands among one of the better mobile games released in 2012.
The game follows the exploits of one Neko the Stray Cat who, has been struck by lightening and is given humanoid form and supernatural ninja powers. Now considered a freak, Neko is banished from being with the other cats. Lost and alone she decides to fend for herself the only way a stray, humanoid, super-ninja cat can. Run and slice through hordes of monsters and steal their gold!
What I like about Ninja Sprint, and something that’s true for a lot of mobile games these days, is how crazy and unique the games premise can be, yet have such stripped down and accessible gameplay. Could you imagine this story working on a console or dedicated handheld? I couldn’t, or at least not without it becoming dull and bland.
If you were looking at a popular game to compare to Ninja Sprint to, I’d say Rayman Jungle Run. Ninja Sprint uses that same constant run gameplay, yet adds its own flavour to the mix by way of jump/slide and power-attack buttons, not to mention the insta-attack mechanic that sees monsters cut down in gory detail.
Gameplay wise, Ninja Sprint is rather solid. You auto-run through the game while Neko slashes through hordes of monsters. Each level have 3 coins that are needed to collect, with numerous smaller coins scattered throughout. Collect these and you’ll be able purchase upgrades in the in-game store such as extra life hearts, quicker energy gauge refill and gore filters.
Much like other dash titles, Ninja Sprint requires a certain amount of skill. While levels start out being rather simple and straightforward, they soon become more complex with branching paths and more obstacles and hazards requiring quick reflexes. To help you out if things get a little too much, you can unleash a power-attack which not only destroys all enemies but also whatever hazards that appear on screen.
The jump/slide/power-attack buttons are fixed to touch-sensitive areas of the mobile screen, indicated by different coloured areas. Familiarising yourself with each is recommended since the further into the game you go, the increasingly complex the level designs get. While the buttons, especially the attack/slide mechanics, are vitally important in overcoming environmental hazards, they can sometimes be entirely unresponsive, resulting in rather cheap deaths.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all it boil down to the device you’re using. For this review I was using an iPhone 5, which is known to have the best multi-touch interface. Take that however you will, though I’ll be quick to point out that it’s not overly an important drawback.
The levels themselves, as pointed out above, are well designed and fairly nice to look at. The art direction used for Ninja Sprint is quite eye-catching, with a water-coloured like Japanese design. However as nice as the levels are to look at and play through there is just too many. From the get-go there’s 4 different areas to play through, each with 20 levels each – with more to no doubt come later through free updates.
Offering consumers with as much bang for their buck is great, but I felt it was the wrong choice to go for quantity over quality – in a manner of speaking. Playing through each section tended to drag a little and would had much preferred a smaller batch of levels with maybe more interest gameplay hooks added.
But, for what Ninja Sprint is, it does everything well. Mobile games are designed for short ‘on the go’ play experiences, not sitting down for extensive amounts of time – which I did for the most part. Over the course of a few days I did pull my phone out and play 5 minutes here and there, to get a feel of how the game worked in that context, and my feelings of repetition and “is it over already” were replaced with “just one more go” syndrome. If a game can keep you wanting more in short bursts, especially mobile titles, then I’d say that’s mission accomplished.
If you’re looking for that next mobile-game fix and want something that is challenging, nice to look at and allows you customise your experience via the in-game store and micro-transcations, I certainly recommend Ninja Sprint.
Ninja Sprint is developed by Eastasiasoft and is available now for Google Play and on the iOS App Store.