Save the Ninja Clan
Developed By: Sometimes You
Published By: Sometimes You
Category: Puzzle Platformer Action
Release Date: 4.27.2018
Save the Ninja Clan for Nintendo Switch is the story of one ninja’s unforgiving journey to save his clan. The story is really all in the name there, I guess, but that’s not really where the focus of the game lies. Ridiculously hard obstacle courses are the name of the game (well, not literally, but… aphoristically. You know what I mean).
The game is hard. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat. No sort of hesitation will go unpunished, whether your retribution comes in the form of spinning buzz saws or homing missiles, you will regret stepping off the gas for any reason, so make your reaction times are up to snuff before attempting this game. I am not particularly dexterous despite a lifetime of playing video games, mostly because I prefer turn-based or more thoughtful games, so this was a tough one for me. Dying at any point in the level brings you back to the beginning, but luckily the levels are relatively short. A successful run on most missions only takes a couple of minutes, tops.
One of the first things you see is a screen telling you all the things that will kill your ninja; and it is basically everything but the walls and ground. Everything that isn’t the walls or ground is either a weapon or hazard, so it wouldn’t take long to figure that out on your own, but it’s nice to have it in writing. The object of the game is to complete levels by getting past traps like buzz saws, lava, water, lasers, homing rockets, grenades, turrets, and guards (just to name a few) by using environmental tools like moving platforms and trampolines and ninja skills and weapons like a double jump and kunai. You can also combine some of these skills; for instance, throwing a kunai into a wooden crate allows the ninja to jump onto the kunai for an additional platform, allowing for the scaling of walls that cannot be jumped.
Throughout each level, there are two collectibles that can be found. One is a Tao symbol, which can be used to unlock new weapons at the weapon rack in the level select screen. Every new level of weapon unlocks useful new skills, such as causing enemies to explode or not being destroyed when coming into contact with an enemy projectile. The other is a ninja scroll, the collection of which marks the completion of the level. There are multiple worlds with 10 levels and a boss fight each. After each boss fight, you save a member of your clan. When you beat all the levels and all the bosses, you have saved the ninja clan.
Save the Ninja Clan’s graphics are simple but sharp. Everything is blocky and sort of bland, but the bright colors add some life to the visuals despite the lack of detail. The character models are bricklike, and almost look like 2D Lego figures. The uniform blockiness of the characters and their world adds some visual unity to the game, but they’re just not very interesting to look at. The music is similarly bland, but I suppose it’s better than a distractingly annoying soundtrack that draws focus away from the game.
Save the Ninja Clan can be played docked or undocked; there are no motion or touchscreen controls, so the gameplay experience is largely the same whichever method you choose. The character model is really small on the Switch’s handheld screen, so I preferred to play it on a TV since I felt like I could keep track of the action better on the larger screen. I generally prefer to play the Switch undocked, but this is one of the few games I would recommend to play on a TV just because of that better view. The controls were smooth and responsive either way, you just have to be fast enough for that responsiveness to mean something. More frequently than I would care to admit, I was not.
TL;DR: Challenging and unforgiving platformer with lackluster presentation
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