I-Ninja is an adventure game with a new hero; a ninja with attitude. This isn’t your simple platform adventure. Namco did a fine job coming up with something a little deeper. Read on to see what they have in-store for you.
In I-Ninja Master O-Dor and his army of Ranx have invaded and slain almost all the Ninja clan sworn to defend the land against evil. The only two left are an old sensei and an angry little ninja. You take control of the angry little ninja who is a warrior who has spent years mastering his weapons and honing his skills. You travel all over trying to protect the lands from Master O-Dor and the evil Ranx. To help and guide you along the way there are Guardians that you must free in each level.
You begin the game with basic abilities and maneuvers from hovering using your sword blade like a helicopter, to using a chain to swing over large gaps and around sharp corners. You can even grind along rails, run up walls or kick jump. At times you will find yourself running down tracks and around tight turns by swing your chain out and using it as an anchor to swing around the corner. Each of the moves is specifically intended for certain points in the game. As you move from level to level you will learn more and more abilities and maneuvers.
A big plus in I-Ninja is the Ninja Berserk system. As you move through enemy soldiers your rage meter increases. As the meter fills up you can heal yourself, or increase your speed and agility. Before you can use Ninja Berserk you must earn your Yellow Belt. There are no power-ups in the game so Ninja Berserk is a must have. As the game progresses I-Ninja increases his abilities and power with new swords and new belts which allows you to do more ninja-like moves.
Throughout the game you must battle enemies like bagoman, dragon wolf, stenchu, sap sucker, kappa captain and a wide range of Ranx. For most of the game you spend your time slicing your way through bobble-headed enemy robots where you can put together combos to earn points and collect coins. Collecting coins really has no point in the game it just earns you more points at the end of the level you are playing.
There are 5 levels in I-Ninja; Robot Beach, Bomb Bay, Jungle Falls, Mountain Gorge, and Moon Base, all with mini levels and missions in each. The first beach level is more of a training level and introduction to the game. In Robot Beach your quest is to gather the missing heart and eyes of the robo-governor of the beach and rebuild him. In one of the segments of the first mission, you complete the task of retrieving a giant mechanical eyeball. I-Ninja climbs on top of the eyeball, grabs it and rolls away into a chute. As you roll down the chute you must control the giant eyeball through an obstacle course and bowl over little enemy soldiers to gain more coins. This is only one of many Eye Bowling mini-levels throughout the game.
The start of the second level Bomb Bay is one of the best parts of the game with the action starting to pick up. In Bomb Bay I-Ninja must stop the Ranx from reaching the bay and will find himself shooting incoming ships with a gun turret and sniping villains with darts and shurikens. The shooting of ships with wave after wave coming in is very difficult. The small levels and easy missions are a kind of Super Monkey Ball style mini-game.
In the Jungle Falls level you must stop the evil Ranx from taking the sap from the jungle. This sap will open up a gateway to the underworld. In each level you must free the guardian of that level. This is very important in this level as he holds the key to the Mountain Gorge.
The Mountain Gorge is a dark mist covered mountain and will give you many obstacles to overcome before you infiltrate the enemy’s army. Once you get through this level you will go on to the Moon Base which is the last level and is very dangerous and has an unknown destination.
At the end of each level you must battle an end boss. Kyza is a heavyweight champ of a 150 foot robot. Ventis lurks within an unexploded bomb. Psyrmon is summoned to the Jungle to extract the life force from sacred trees, and Malakai a master shepherd is in a mountain crater.
Graphically I-Ninja has a distinct style and character design. I Ninja’s head is twice the size of his body in true anime style. The colors are very bright and colorful for the levels and characters. Character designs are a little kiddish and simple, but they fit the game very well. I-Ninja is well animated with no slow downs as you hack your way through enemies. Backgrounds also move very smoothly and are very colorful and detailed.
As far as sound and music there is not much to speak of. The music has a nice groove to it, but nothing inspiring. Given the overall nature of I-Ninja this is to be expected. The voice acting is a little annoying at times after hearing the same thing over and over again. Sensei will offer some interesting commentary and snippets of mixed up wisdoms.
Controls don’t get much better than I-Ninja’s. They are very responsive and well timed. There are a lot of controls so have all your fingers warmed up. Thankfully most of the time you won’t need all of them at once.
I-Ninja is a great game for all ages but is a little short. It’s sad that there weren’t any multi-player options or Xbox Live support. It would have been nice to run and hack with a friend. Without these there is no real replay value. I-Ninja has a neat concept and the Ninja Berserk is a must have. Some of the odd Japanese humor makes the game fun and worth playing. Overall I-Ninja is a great game and should be given a try.
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