Sunday, March 1, 2009

Video Game Review: Ninjatown

I did, in fact, take that mythical trip to Oz, not this morning, but starting last night. I am definitely pleased with the gameplay of Resistance 2, but holy FUCK, it is nigh impossible. The guns are far more effective (especially the Auger), but the enemies are harder. The colors make everything more beautiful, but sometimes, I find myself regretting asking for more color – specifically running through the town of Orick, being chased by Grims, which exploded from cocoons all over the damn town and scared the shit out of me. GOOD TIMES!

Really, the game is great, but I need to take a break from it to do some homework and laundry, and to let Mike play more Killzone 2. Now that I’m full of dinner and I don’t quite feel like finishing up my homework, I thought I’d write another review of a game I beat about 2 months ago, Ninjatown.

The characters in Ninjatown come from the mind, palette, and soul of Shawn Smith, the creative genius behind Shawnimals ( I had the pleasure of meeting Shawn at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle in September of 2008, after seeing Wee Ninjas and Wee Devils running around the convention center (I even got my picture taken with them, as you can see). I was intrigued, and decided to check out the game. I was interested in the pins as well, scattered across a table with a sign begging people to be honest and take only one – which, in addition to the fact that they were the cutest pins I had ever seen, made me want a pocketful. My evil plot was thwarted by the appearance of Shawn himself, who explained how the game was played on the demo that had been set up next to the pins, and also recognized my Patrick the Wolfboy shirt and commented on it. It turns out that Art and Franco had worked on his Ninjatown comic! It was a righteous coincidence.

Ninjatown itself is a painfully adorable tower defense game for the DS. You help Ol’ Master Ninja defend Ninjatown by strategically defending it from Mr. Demon and his angry hordes. A variety of ninjas can be called upon to help, starting with Wee Ninjas and later getting volunteer Business Ninjas and even Lava Ninjas. Each Ninja has specific powers and is ideal against certain devils – I find the Anti-Ninja to be the best defense against the Chubby Devil, and the Business Devil is best defeated by his swift Ninja counterpart. Each level requires another area to be defended, and you can choose which Ninja Houses you want to build – depending on how many Ninja Cookies you have. Yes, that’s right, I said Ninja Cookies – that is the monetary value you’re dealing with here in Ninjatown, and Mr. Demon is trying to steal the recipe.

Not cute enough for you? What if I were to tell you that you can gain tokens with each level beaten, and that the tokens include Baby Ninjas, who are so cute the Devils must slow down, as well as Ninja Droppings, which…well…that one’s obvious, now isn’t it? You can also enlist the direct aid of Master Ninja, who flies above you in a hot-air balloon. You can unlock various powers for him to help you in your defense of your beloved town.

On top of being cute, it’s also addictive. I found myself playing levels again and again, trying to best mixes of Ninjas to defeat the onslaught of Devils, addicted to seeing that grade of “A” after each one was finished.

So, the gameplay is fun, the characters are fun and lovable, and it’s a level of challenging I found quite satisfying – it wasn’t so easy I beat it in a day, but it also wasn’t so hard that I got frustrated with it. All in all, I would say Ninjatown is definitely a game I heartily recommend to everyone.

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