I may not look like much, but I’m an expert at trying to be a ninja.
-Darynda Jones, First Grave on the Right
“The following is a contributor post by the Midnight Mystic Mage.”
Save The Ninja Clan is releasing today for the Nintendo Switch. It marks the first game I have had the pleasure of playing and reviewing before its actual release date and I am very honored to be able to do so. It was a very challenging game for me personally, but I loved stepping up to that challenge and pushing through to the end.
Its play style is very reminiscent of Super Meat Boy in that you play as a 2D character with a very hand-drawn feel who moves similarly and feels alike, especially when jumping against walls to make it around the level. It is different in many ways as well, of course. You play as a ninja, not a little glob of meat with arms and legs, and you can swap back and forth between three different types of ninjas who have different abilities. In the beginning, I was able to swap between the three at will to do double jumps, smokescreen maneuvers, or run very quickly. After a while, though you are only able to do this via the different colored portals which summon the ninja with that corresponding color.
At first, I was not sure if this was due to some way that I did my playthrough because there are some rather hilarious scenes that allow you to “break the game” and play in areas that the developers “did not intend you to”. I thought this nice little meta touch was very welcomed and neat.
You might see a flashing brick that you are then able to jump through and then you behold yourself walking upon thin air with a little message from the developers ensuring you that this is not the right way to go and that you should really make your way back to the level. Sometimes this is true and there will be nothing but a tease such as a treat that does nothing and you are not able to pick up, while other times it is an entire level that you are able to play through rather than the original level that was before you.
I mentioned that the game was quite the challenge for me; I do not usually tackle games with a high level of difficulty. I am very into simulators, story-driven games, and just generally games with a nice relaxing pace.
Luckily this time I was feeling up to it and finished the game within a week or so of continuous play when I had the time after work. The way the game is designed makes it very addicting to just keep trying the level over and over even when the amount of times that you have to retry begins to border on the nonsensical and absurd. You are able to hop right back into it without delay and that plays a huge part in helping you to just keep trying and getting the next part right and then the next part. Don’t get me wrong some sections of the game were absolutely rage-inducing and I am sure my wife could tell when I was getting a bit frustrated as I played.
I had some trouble with a strange frame rate issue. Not sure whether it was my system or the game itself, so won’t put too much weight on it. Things would begin to move around too fast or too slow at times but if I restarted the system or game it would always be fixed once I did. I wasn’t aware that it was happening at first and found myself wondering why in the world I was having so much trouble with my timing in different areas.
Another thing that was troubling me was the size of the character and level on the screen. I do not have the best sight so this could a personal problem but I just couldn’t see everything as well as I wish I could have. Maybe this could be helped with different zoomed settings for those of us who are slightly more vision impaired.
The pre-purchase price on Switch is only $3.99 so it is very reasonably priced for what you get. It isn’t the longest game and it does not offer much of anything in the form of story or narrative but the gameplay is enjoyable and I like the charm of it.
The art style is right up my alley; as some of you may know I am a huge fan of the pixelated and 2d style. You really can get into a groove with this game that gives it that addictive quality, trying and trying to get better at each part of the level and then finally piecing it all together into a solid run and finishing strong. Speaking of finishing strong, let’s change gears and bring this into the 8-Bit Review phase!
The 8-bit Review
I will start with the bad, there is no narrative. I may get some backlash for that statement, I know there is a sliver of a story about the ninja clan being kidnapped and how you have to rescue them, but it is super vague and might as well be nonexistent. I know I don’t have much good to say here, but stick around because I did enjoy the game and I hope to explain why you might as well even though I found it sorely lacking in this area.
This is one of the things that this game does best: you can pick it up and get right into it. The controls work well and besides when my screen was lagging, you always feel like if you die it’s because of something you did incorrectly. There is a high level of difficulty at times but the game flows together smoothly and is very easy to learn and enjoy.
Family Friendliness: 6/10
The score here may vary depending on how badly you view the blood splattering when they are torn to shreds by the giant saw blades of doom. Man, it sounds bad when I say it like that. I really don’t think that the blood is so bad and besides that everything else is super fun for the kids or anyone for that matter. Like I said though maybe slap a PG rating on it and beware of some bloody death scenes. Everything else is very cartoony and light-hearted, nothing too harsh or heavy about it.
The game has a way of keeping the carrot just out of reach so that you want to keep going no matter how frustrating it can be at times. It isn’t just blindly challenging and impossible but it makes you really push yourself and test your limits. I mentioned earlier that I do not usually enjoy difficult games but this one was most definitely an exception.
This goes hand in hand with the accessibility of the game. It is easy to pick up, but difficult to master. It will have you jumping off the walls both literally (in the game, not at home) and figuratively as you overcome the next challenge that each level or series of levels introduces. Two aspects that I found myself enamored with were the tornados and the portals that warp you to different areas as you jump around and complete the puzzle in each level.
I don’t believe that I will personally be playing it again but I guess you never really know. I did enjoy it but it just needs something more to leave me wanting to pick it back up and do it all again, maybe some kind of an endless mode or procedurally generated level mode. I also think that online or local multiplayer would give a huge reason to come back and keep playing.
I think the saw blades and the replay screen are very derivative of Super Meat Boy; there are many things that are different but if you have played both you will see that these similarities are glaring and a bit hard to overlook. It has an intriguing style and I applaud the different things that are unique. However, I don’t think it is quite enough to warrant a very high score in this area.
My Personal Grade: 6/10
It’s a game that you should look out for if you are a Switch owner. It is available on other platforms as well if you do not have one and are interested, but I really loved being able to kick back on the couch or in the bed and rage through the buzz saws and free falls of Save The Ninja Clan. It has got to be one you keep in mind if you are searching for a cheap game that will be enjoyable and will not take a ton of time to complete.
We would like to thank Sometimes You for supplying us with a copy of their game for this critique!
Aggregated Score: 6.1
The Midnight Mystic Mage is the resident writer of sublimereviews.wordpress.com, a reviewer of games, books, and film, and a fan of all things horror and spooky. Follow the link… if you dare!
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