Developer: Chi Trung Tran and Crescent Moon Games
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.03
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

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

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

It’s hip to be a square ninja. That’s Nakama: a 2D action game featuring blocky ninjas and lots of action.

Nakama-1

Players control one of those blocky ninjas, trying to rescue their “nakama” which is Japanese for comrades. Each one has been kidnapped by deadly bosses, who must be defeated to be freed. Doing so comes with two rewards: one, a permanent health upgrade. Two, they fight alongside the hero, one at a time, helping to defeat enemies and at least one drops health periodically. See? Helping out one’s friends comes with benefits. In this case, they’re tangible!

The game uses a level-based structure with high scores to attain, though it’s possible to start from the latest level one has reached. There’s only two real attacks: a basic slash attack, and a charge attack that can be jumped into for some upward heft against jumping enemies. The charge attack can repel enemy projectiles. Be warned: enemies can trap players in the corner, and that’s usually a one-way ticket to an early grave.

Nakama‘s graphic style is simplistic, with characters largely portrayed as squares, but it looks good in motion, particularly with the visual effects in use. It’s an effective visual style. The soundtrack, which is repetitive and heavy on the pan flute, is best muted.

Nakama-5

The game does reach a bit of a brick wall where the enemies ramp up in strength and intensity of their attacks to where it’s hard to figure out what’s going on and to even defeat them. Sure, the AI partner can help out, but only so much.

The controls are decent, with left/right buttons on the left side of the screen, and two action buttons on the right. Sometimes it’s required to slide from the fire button to the jump buttons, which thankfully is recognized by the game. There’s also support for iOS 7’s MFi game controllers, but as there are none publicly available, I couldn’t test this feature out…yet.

Nakama won’t set the world on fire, particularly as it can get a bit repetitive in terms of what it has the player doing. but it’s charming and entertaining enough, with enough of a challenge, to be worth the $0.99 for sure.

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