Developer: Square Enix
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Console and PC/Mac gamers might recall the franchise, Mini Ninjas, the loveable if slightly too simplistic adventure game geared towards the younger end of the market. Unlike its older sibling, the iOS version doesn’t offer anywhere near as much exploration, instead focusing on a very popular genre: the endless runner.

Players control Hiro, as he runs from left to right in his bid to rescue animals and survive as long as possible. Obstacles such as boulders and explosive barrels must be jumped over, while enemy ninjas must be taken out with a well timed tap of the attack button. A choice of two control methods are available, the default method involves tapping on the left hand side of the screen in order to jump, while the right hand side initiates an attack. It doesn’t feel quite as natural as it should, so I’d recommend switching to the other form which involves tapping anywhere to jump and a specific button to attack.

Hiro can also wall run, which simply involves holding a finger to the screen for longer. Other extra skills come from the other ninjas, Futo, Kuniochi and Suzume. Futo can smash his way through obstacles with ease, while Kuniochi can glide across them and Suzume absorbs any coins that happen to be near her. These coins prove especially useful given that they can be used to buy new outfits, upgrades, power-ups, as well as extra lives to prolong the game.

As an Endless Runner, Mini Ninjas relies on short sessions because it’s all too easy to die abruptly and have to start all over again, so these coins are great for carrying on. There is some help, courtesy of a tornado move, though. This move can be unleashed after collecting up a sufficient amount of energy, by saving animals and clearing obstacles. Once activated, the player goes flying across the screen for quite a distance.

Put all these elements together and there’s a pretty fun, if unremarkable Endless Runner beneath the cute license. There’s nothing exceptionally revolutionary here, but there’s also nothing bad either. Mini Ninjas is a quite dependable and fun title that avoids relying too much on in-app purchases (although the impatient can also pursue that option).

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