Developer: Bad Chunk
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Nano Ninjas might as well be called Ninjas vs. Robots. Not because it would be any more descriptive but rather it would clue players in on the game's biggest influence: Plants vs. Zombies. While not as good as that tower defense classic it offers a serviceable enough imitation.
Once there were two ninja masters that were best buddies forever. However, when one master is corrupted by an evil green orb, the other must gather his forces to oppose the robot hordes of his former friend. It's a thin but cute story told well via appealing 2D animation. The five areas the game spans each have their own unique art style but the handful of characters, ninjas and robots alike, aren't quite as varied as they could've been.
When it comes to gameplay Nano Ninjas is basically Plants vs. Zombies lite. Players arrange their ninjas, monks, bombs, and shield-wielding pigs on a five-row grid to stave off the oncoming enemy forces. It’s a great formula that just feels incredibly familiar. Even the music sounds vaguely similar to Popcap’s.
Luckily, there are a few new systems. Players slowly build up Zen energy over the course of a match and it can be used for a variety of upgrades. Players can power up individual units through meditation, earn cash at a faster rate, and even summon a dragon with enough patience. Taking advantage of these systems is crucial too because even early in the game, Nano Ninja’s level of difficulty far surpasses PVZ's. Any missteps, no matter how small, lead to players’ defenses being overwhelmed by enemies and there are no lawnmowers to help clear the field. It's a fine line to walk but the game goes from challenging to just plain frustrating a little too often.
At this point though, Plants vs. Zombies has been around for quite some time. No doubt many players have already exhausted its content. For them, Nano Ninjas delivers a good enough version of what they want.