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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Eidos Interactive
Developed By: Io Interactive
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Rated: E10 (Everyone 10 and Up)
Release Date: September 8, 2009
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

What is it about a ninja that makes people want to dress as them for Halloween, take martial arts classes, or even play videogames based on them? Is it the cool outfit? Is it the fact that they traverse lush environments? Could it possibly be the weaponry? Whatever you answer may be for these questions, the real reason why anyone would play Mini Ninjas is because of simply, yet intuitive gameplay mechanics, lush and interactive environments and because they can get enough of ninjas.

The story of Mini Ninjas is told through a visually pleasing cutscene in which a Ninja Master has discovered a great disturbance within nature, thatís threatening to destroy life as we know it. In order to right the wrongs of this disturbance, the Ninja Master sends his most trusted students down Ninja Mountain in order to investigate the situation. As each season comes and goes, the master continuously sends down students in order to investigate and find their fellow comrades until one day, he only has two pupils left. Due to the force continuously growing strong and stronger, the Ninja Master has no other choice but to place this burden on the shoulders of his last two students, Hiro and Futo. Upon investigating the environmental disturbances, Hiro, Futo and the Ninja Master discover that itís the Evil Samurai Warlord who has returned and is using dark Kuji magic in order to turn animals into mindless minions.

Mini Ninjas is a well-developed third-person action/adventure title by Io Interactive. Whiles intriguing about this game is the fact it appeals to practically all ages. While the presentation was specifically design for children and teenagers, there enough depth and content surrounding the title that it appeals to the older gamers who long for a quality ninja experience outside of Ninja Gaiden/Ninja Gaiden Sigma series. A prime example of this is seen within the combat. When fighting with your opponent, you are delivering devastation slices, stabs that would leave a defeated foe dead and bloody in other games. In Mini Ninjas, the enemies disappear into a cloud of smoke and out pops a wilderness creature, whether it is a bear, rabbit, fox, frog, etc.

Continuing to talk about the combat system, it seems basic on the surface, however once you progress through the game; you will see there is more depth to it than you initially realized. Each combatant you use has some pretty basic attacks including a primary attack, block breaker attack and a power attack. For the most part you will be alternating between your primary and block breaker attacks early in the game. After the first couple of levels, you will face more enemies at one time, and this is where your power attack comes in. With Hiro, heís about to jump in the air and strike multiple enemies, one at a time, delivering a killing blow to each. Each character his or her own distinct fighting style and power attacks.

The ninja that could Hiro is the most powerful of the six characters within the game, seven if you include the Evil Samurai Warlord. What makes Hiro stand out is his innate ability to use Kuji magic as an additional measure to combat his enemies. In order to unlock Hiroís full potential; you must discover hidden Kuji shrines that you must place a rare white flower upon in order to unlock a new Kuji spell for Hiro to master. The new Kuji spells include casting a tornado to immobilize enemy units or slowing down time in order to defeat enemies that are faster than the speed of light.

By far the most memorable feature of Mini Ninjas is the audio/video presentation within the game. Whatís so appealing about the visuals are the fact that they are simple, yet detailed and stylized in reference to its Japanese influences. Environments are grand, offering lush backdrops and detailed set pieces. One minute you can be traversing through a forest, the next you are on top of snow-covered mountain. Special effects are also nicely done, given off a real since of dedication to the project by the developer. Working hand-and-hand with the visuals is the superb soundtrack, utilizing flutes and drums to help set the mood of the location and battle sequences. The voiceover work has its funny moments, but never oversteps its boundaries, adding yet another layer of quality to the overall experience.

Even though Mini Ninjas is catering to a different audience than a game like Ninja Gaiden, it still provides a solid gaming experience than can be experience by the casual and the hardcore gamers out there. From lush environments, simple yet intuitive gameplay mechanics and an incredible musical soundtrack, Mini Ninjas has the total package some expect from blockbuster titles. For those who werenít able to collect everything the first time through, you have the option to replay completed levels in order to gather those missing coins, plants, etc.


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