Though adorable, these ninjas are tougher than they seem.
As a fan of all things cute it’s no wonder I was immediately drawn into every aspect of this game. Chibi Ninjas talking about defending their cookie recipe from an evil Ninja is absolutely adorable. But then something unforeseen began to happen: this cute little game started completely destroying me!
The place known as Ninjatown is a peaceful community where ninjas live under the protection of the mayor. That is, until one day a volcano erupts and Mr. Demon decides to invade the town. Your "courageous" mayor puts the town's existence into the hands of the Ol' Master Ninja and swiftly runs off to cower in fear. Ol' Master Ninja quickly gathers all types of ninjas to fight and gets to work defending Ninjatown.
Like most tower defense games, keeping enemies out is the highest priority. Each level has a designated entrance and exit for enemies; allow an enemy to exit unscathed and the player will lose one point from the ten they are allotted each level. There are eight ninja types that the player will encounter, all having their own special ability, strength, and weakness.
The player is allotted a certain amount of cookies (money) for building ninja huts and buildings at the beginning of a level, and must spend it very wisely. Cookies are earned as enemies are killed, allowing the player to build more huts or upgrade existing ones. The player is also given powers from Ol' Master Ninja himself, and are able to utilize these when times get rough via the Hickory Cane Meter. One such power enables players to push back enemies if they have past your ninja defenders, enabling their defeat. After successful completion of a level, the player is given a grade from A-D and also wins a bonus ninja token that can perform special tasks when used.
Controlling Ninjatown is completely touchscreen-based and extremely simple. All one has to do is touch an area of land and choose which type of hut or building they would like to place. After that, the player just needs to tap the hut again if they want to create a specific post spot for the ninjas, upgrade them, or demolish the hut. The top screen shows the overall map of the area which details where enemies will be entering along with a bar that depicts how long it will be until the next wave of enemies, and what type they will be. If a player ever needs a bit of help, the Ol' Master Ninja powers are accessed by touching the hickory cane in the top left corner of the touch screen. This brings up a menu with the different powers, and as long as enough power has been stored all it takes is a tap to access them.
Simplicity was the key when designing this game and this concept shows in its graphics. The areas are just detailed enough to give the game a crisp look, but not overly detailed as to take away from the art direction. Everything is bright, colorful, and basically designed to be ironically adorable. While they could have added more flair, it probably would have been a distraction.
Ninjatown is a wonderful experience overall, and never feels frustrating despite its challenge. While there may be a specific formula to beating every level, it's the trial and error that allows ultimate success to feel so very gratifying. Parents beware: while this game may seem cute and colorful, it will not likely appeal to your small child. However, everyone else should put this charming game on their list.