It’s hard to believe that such an innocent-looking game was made by the fathers of the Hitman series. As a huge fan of the Hitman games, I was very excited to play Mini Ninjas. I had no idea what to expect because IO Interactive is known for that brutal series and I wondered if they could pull off a “kid’s game”.
Mini Ninjas focuses on Hiro, a ninja that must go on an epic quest to restore order to a world in chaos. Although Hiro is the focus of the game, after you save other ninjas, you are given the ability to switch between them. You can only be one ninja at a time and they each have different attacks and moves, but in all reality, you’re just going to use the one main ninja for 90% of the time because he can use magic and he’s the quintessential ninja — and he’s awesome. I really think it’s Chuck Norris behind the mask. You can also become the local wildlife. Their sense of smell helps you find ingredients in the wild among other things.
At the start of the game, you’re thrown into tutorial levels. While they are adequate for their task, all the game’s mechanics and controls are thrust upon you in a 20-minute period and it can be hard to wrap your head around everything at first, but over the next hour of gameplay you get the hang of things. However, the game desperately needs a map of some sort. There is a way to have an arrow show you where you’re supposed to be going, but despite the linear levels, it can be easy to get turned around in some places.
The visual and lighting style in Mini Ninjas is great — very cartoon-like and playful, while still being edgy and sharp. The visual style fits the game’s mood and feels very well. The cinematic videos, animation and narration also help make the entire game flow very smoothly. The game relies on a checkpoint saving system, but the checkpoints are not as intrusive or horribly paced as most games.
Mini Ninjas offers a wide range of gameplay elements that create a playfully entertaining experience. Throughout the game, you must rely on stealth, RPG elements, button-mashing and quick reflexes. It is very easy to pick up and play and it can be quite hard to resist at times with it being so playful and inviting. The boss fights are fun and often entertaining and found me laughing at times, although a bit childish at times, but still very creative. It all boils down to a fantastic kid’s game that can easily entertain even the manliest of gamers for many hours with a smile plastered to his face.
- Graphics: 9
The visual style, lighting and visual effects are nice and cartoon-like. Very clean and sterile, while still being playful and interesting.
- Storyline: 7
An interesting and slightly complex story that drives the game and keeps everything flowing all while being entertaining.
- Gameplay: 8
Though Mini Ninjas doesn’t do anything new or unusual with the overall gameplay, but despite that fact, the game is brilliantly fun to play and often addicting.
- Controls: 7
The controls are simple enough and the game does offer full controller support, if — like myself — you prefer that option for third-person games.
- Lasting Appeal: 5
Unfortunately, the game will probably not beckon you back for a second play through and on top of that, it’s a game that is begging for co-op play, but there is none to be had.
Overall: 7 Olives