Hi, everyone. It’s Gabe from CGRundertow.
There are some games that you just know are going to be good because of the title. Titles
like Resident Evil, Gears of War, and The Elder Scrolls all just scream “awesome”
before the disc even gets put into the tray, but there are some other games that have awesome
titles that seem to go under the radar, and a kids’ game with an epic title really has
become rare. Just look at Kung Zhu, ugh. Luckily, I’ve been able to track one down. This is
Mini Ninjas for the Xbox 360. Mini Ninjas follows the story of a group of
different ninjas as they fight against an evil warlord and his forces. Now, when I read
the description on the packaging before I put the disc in, I thought “Oh, no…it’s
another simple good versus evil story,” and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t
the case. However, the game uses a very nice presentation and excellently over-the-top
voice actors to help to keep the game from taking itself too seriously. After all, it
is called “Mini Ninjas.” What adults would let children become ninjas, anyway? If they
make the sequel more realistic, call it “Mini Students…or Mini Pacifists”.
The combat system is actually quite solid for a titled aimed at younger audiences. You’ll
be able to slash, stun, jump attack, throw fireballs, and use a special attack that’s
very similar to the “mark and execute” move I mentioned in my Splinter Cell: Conviction
review. Now, like I said, the platforming is basic, but it all feels very natural. The
game never tries to trick you into thinking you’re allowed to do something that you
aren’t. Now, the one thing that surprised me more than anything else in Mini Ninjas
is the camera, which is one of the best I’ve ever seen in a third-person action game. It
barely ever needs to be adjusted, and never does that weird zoom-in thing that the genre
has become prone to. Oh, AND it features a helpful arrow that makes sure that you never
get frustrated while trying to navigate through a level. Really, I was in shock while I was
playing this. It’s a game that, for the most part went unnoticed, and it avoids every
usual flaw that these games tend to have. Now, because this is a kids’ game, there
isn’t quite as much emphasis on stealth as most games with “ninja” in the title
might have. You do have the option of sneaking by a lot of enemies, but you can also just
kill everyone you see. In addition to sneaking, you’ll have the ability to take control
of animals and have them attack the Samurai for you. You can have a bear attack the Samurai!
Why haven’t any people played this!? The visuals of Mini Ninjas are really the
only reason you can tell that it was made on a low budget. It looks like a VERY early
360 title, even though its only a few years old, and some edges have points when they
should be round. However, the game uses a nice cell-shaded effect to hide this and give
some life to the characters, and it actually works extremely well.
Mini Ninjas is a game that I had never heard of before I fired it up, and I can say without
a doubt that its one of the best kids’ games I’ve ever played. Even if you aren’t a
kid, you’d be doing yourself a big disservice if you didn’t give this one a try.