Mini Ninjas

Name a recent kids game that’s not a movie tie in, or linked to a tv show or toy range. It’s pretty hard isn’t it? There’s little confidence that a game can sell to children unless it rides onto the market on a wave of excitement about some hilarious 3D cinematic experience or a variety of brightly coloured cheap plastic nonsense. Back in the day there were kids games coming out of our ears but publishers just don’t want to take the chance anymore. Up steps Eidos, their heroic hair waving in the sun as they stand upon Mount Bravery, holding aloft Mini Ninjas, Not only does Mini Ninjas stand alone, judged entirely on it’s own gameplay merits but Eidos entrusted this jolly kids title to Io Interactive makers of Hitman and Kane and Lynch, not exactly the sort of characters you’d want babysitting your “cute as a button” offspring while you go down the pub.

Our hero, conveniently called Hiro, has to defeat the ‘Evil Samurai Warlord’ who’s been turning all the little animals into samurai bad guys. You’ll have to rescue five other mini ninjas along the way each of whom then become playable. Switching between them gives you a full range of abilities, attacks and skills to defeat your enemies. You can possess animals and use them to disguise yourself or attack enemies, you can of course use some stealth tactics to stay hidden, there’s a variety of weapons and Kuju magic attacks to unlock. There’s also a bunch of collectables including hats, shurikens, fish, flowers and fruit. You can cook up some potions and meals with many of your collectibles.

There’s a lot going on for a kids game and while every button on the controller is utilised to give you the full compliment of gameplay mechanics  it’s also possible to just press all the buttons till the bad guys die. This makes the game reasonably easy for young kids but those trying to implement all the things they’ve been taught in the early levels may find it a bit hard going with so much to remember. What would have really catapulted Mini Ninjas into a truly awesome experience would have been a co-op mode allowing parents to play along side their kids. It’s a shame it’s not there because the game seems built for it with a variety of ninjas you can play as, all of whom help each other to achieve their goals.

The game looks superb. The graphics offer a pared down simplicity that is a little like cell shading without going to far over into slick and stylish looks that kids wouldn’t necessarily appreciate. For the grown up gamer with a penchant for playing fun simple games Mini Ninjas has a lot to offer. There’s not much in the way of challenge even on higher difficulty settings but there are several ways to approach enemy encounters which will keep you interested for quite sometime. For those who like to collect Achievement points/Trophies this is a game that will boost your score without you having to feel too ashamed about it. Hey, we all like to take a break from blowing mofo’s away and chainsawing people in the face, right?


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