Day 170: NINJA BROS. 忍者ブラザーズ

Posted: 2011/04/28 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #170, and today’s game is “NINJA BROS. 忍者ブラザーズ”.

I’m not sure if this game needs a review, I imagine a good number of you will immediately download this 80 Microsoft Point game as soon as you stream the video above. The concept is so simple, yet devious in its consequences, that you can’t help but be sucked into it. The game is inventive, and the puzzles often simultaneously simple to grasp but hard to solve, and it easily became a must buy for me. It’s right up Kobun’s alley (my favourite indie game reviewer), and I expect it’s either already on his list of games to check out, or soon will be, as he and I both love puzzle platformers with a twist.

First, from the developer (dot zo games):

“It’s Ninja action puzzle game , wao!

Ninja Bros. has you simultaneously controlling 2-4 ninjas each level. If you press left, they all go left, press right they all go right, and if one crouches they all crouch. The first few levels this is simple enough, as you can relatively easily have them all dodge the shurikens and other environmental hazards, while getting them to activate switches and the other things they need to do to finish the level. But as two ninjas become 3, then 4, and as the hazards get faster moving and more numerous, the game takes on a new urgency with every level, and keeping all four ninjas safe and coordinated suddenly not so simple.

The one thing you can do individually is make them jump separately, the four face buttons on the Xbox 360 control pad corresponding to the similarly coloured ninja. Those with colour differentiation issues, or people like me who have the new silver Xbox 360 with the transforming d-pad and all silver and grey face buttons, however, may have to compare the ninjas on screen to the A, B, X, and Y icons at the top of the screen and/or trial and error. Noting these colour differences is key in another way, as when the play areas of two ninjas overlap a ninja will only be stopped by an object that shares their colour (so the green ninja will not be stopped by a red obstacle).

The presentation is general is effective, if not stunningly attractive. The sound effects also are aptly described this way, but the music is a cut above the rest of the presentation, reminding me of System 3’s “The Last Ninja” on the Commodore 64. Despite the lack of musical variety, I didn’t find myself tiring of it. Anything that reminds me of The Last Ninja is a good thing, BTW. Like many indie games, it has an “Awardments” system entitled “Ninja Awards” which enhances replay value for the completionist players. In-game collectibles are also present for those same players, who can’t stand to leave a game only 99% done. Speaking of the Commodore 64, the graphics are somewhat reminiscent of early-80s Commodore 64 games where the graphics were rendered using the PET-ASCII graphics characters set (think Space Taxi, among many others).

The feature set is pretty barebones with no multiplayer, though it could easily be argued that multiplayer would too far removed from the game’s concept to be appropriate, just as adding multiplayer to Bioshock 2 was entirely beside the point of the game. An easy 80 MSP game to recommend.

Click here to download “NINJA BROS. 忍者ブラザーズ”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.

Know someone else who would want to read the review, or rate the game? “Share This” and invite them to.

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