“Go Ninja! Go Ninja! Go!”
I had that lyric from Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap” stuck in my head constantly while playing Ponos’ new iOS game, Mr.Ninja (no space, lest you have a hard time finding it in the App Store). Its one button gameplay about a ninja slicing and dicing his way through the cosmos is easy to grasp, but its simplicity is its greatest virtue. Mr.Ninja is may not look like much, but its core mechanics are deceptively addictive.
The concept is simple: you control a ninja hopping from one spinning disk to another, slicing up demonic aliens in between to build up a score multiplier. Miss one foe, however, and the multiplier starts back at zero. Disks vary in size, rotation speed, and the direction in which they turn.
All Mr.Ninja can do is jump. And double jump. Aliens are skewered automatically, making the control scheme minimal, but it only takes one mistake to end your intergalactic hot streak.
Normal mode tasks players with going as long as they can until they miss a jump. Super Chain is a timed mode with plenty of power up stars that make it so your multiplier can’t decrease, encouraging a riskier play style. And our favorite, Impossible mode, is essentially a much harder version of normal mode. Once Impossible mode was unlocked, we stopped bothering with normal mode, since it takes too long to get into the thick of the action.
Aesthetically, the game is composed entirely of black silhouettes set against celestial orange backgrounds. It’s an unconventional color scheme, but it gets old after a while, and we wished the backgrounds changed colors to add a visual sense of progression to the randomly generated layouts.
The real reason to play Mr.Ninja is to gain a high score. With Game Center support for online leaderboards, it’s a surprisingly habit-forming pastime — especially if you have friends playing too. You never expect to play it for more than a few minutes, but the thing about ninjas is that they have a way of sneaking up on you.
The bottom line. A fast-paced, addictive game about hopping between spinning spheres, Mr.Ninja is sure to get its hooks in you.
iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, second-through-fourth-gen iPod touch running iOS 4.1 or later.
Eviscerating a dozen aliens while leaping from one disk to another is a hoot. When you die it’s usually your own fault.
Look, I like Halloween as much as the next guy, but enough with the black and orange.