Don’t be fooled by the cuteness of this game, it is only a disguise: there is some serious gameplay hidden here.
Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.
Mini Ninjas ($0.99 Universal) is a side-scrolling runner where you play a jumping fighting ninja with a mission to free his friends from captivity. Don’t be fooled by the cuteness of this game, it is only a disguise: there is some serious gameplay hidden under its shinobi shōzoku.
As with all endless running, side-scrolling action games, you do not need to control your forward movement. You do however need to control both your jumps and your attacks. Tap on the left side of the screen to jump and on the right side of the screen to attack. There is also the ninja skill to run along walls. This one is a little harder to master, and is accomplished by jumping with the left control, then pressing and holding the left control as you run along the wall. Once you release, you fall from the wall back onto the ground. You are not able to scale every wall, but the ones you can run across end up being the only means of avoiding the obstacle in front of you.
The backdrop for each trail is set in different seasons which you are placed in by the magic of a flying dragon. As you run there are different obstacles you must either destroy or avoid. Along the way you will be challenged by warriors of varying skills and abilities. Fortunately for you they each have a distinctive color and costume that distinguishes them from one another. Some warriors jump, some fly, and others just run, but they all will eventually attack you. When each warrior is defeated, an animal appears in its place and follows you on your journey.
As you run, you also collect gold “koins.” These koins are more than just pocket change as they can be used for one of two purposes. The first is to buy yourself a second life when you stumble on an obstacle or get killed. All you need to do is surrender some of your koins and you will be brought back to life, running once again right where you left off. The second use of the koins is to buy various outfits, equipment upgrades, potions and spells from the village Dojo. While the outfits and equipment upgrades appear to be more cosmetic, the potions and spells have a real effect on game play. One such potion, Death Banisher, will extend your run by bringing you back to life when you die.
Throughout the game there are various missions that you must complete: land on top of three rocks, craft three potions, or even defeat three captains of the guard. Once you have achieved a certain number of missions, your ninja will level up and be granted a new title. You soon find that your friends are trapped in cages and strung up in trees. You must break open their cage in order to free them. Once free, you will run as the friend instead of the ninja and use their unique abilities for a while. This is also a way of gaining extra life with each run, as you will continue to run as your friend until you stumble upon an obstacle or are defeated by an opposing warrior. At which time you will be transformed back into the mini ninja and continue with the endless running.
While there is a Mini Ninjas game for OS X ($19.99, Mac), the two games are not alike. The characters artwork and storyline of both games are identical, but the Mac game plays more like a 3D character adventure game, not a side-scrolling runner. The Mac version of the game is fun to play and very well done, but there is more than enough here on the iOS version to keep you busy this weekend.