Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Individual pieces of Ninja Newton’s core gameplay may be recognizable to App Store junkies. It’s got the endlessly ascending platforming of something like Knightmare Tower along with a grappling hook, which is one our favorite frequently used tools. However, it mines a surprising amount of depth from these deceptively simple mechanics.
Ninja Newton’s mission is to reach the highest point possible in an endless dungeon tower. To do so, players tap objects to grapple between them. Pretty much anything from stones, to fire-breathing gargoyle heads, to moving platforms can be latched onto. However, fall off the bottom edge of the screen and it's game over. There is a tremendous feeling of freedom while swinging. But because the hook can attach to so many varied objects, occasionally it will glitch out and not quite know how to react. This is especially frustrating when the player is just left hanging when they need to propel up to solid ground. Only then will the camera pan to the next object to grab. Sometimes the best solution is to drop and reattach as soon as possible. This risky move leads the big swings when successful but usually ends in death. But despite these hiccups, Ninja Newton meets the high standards of grappling hooks in video games.
If the endless tower was all the game had to offer, it would still be easy to recommend. However, Ninja Newton actually has dozens of side levels outside of the main tower for players to explore. Taking place in a variety of locations like mountaintops and spooky forests, these extra missions introduce tons of new objects to interact with like falling rocks or flying eagles to hitch a ride on. Since they are finite, these levels actually have better, more deliberate designs than the main tower. They also challenge players to complete them using insanely low amounts of jumps. As players complete these stages, they earn coins to buy upgrades like stronger rope, faster swings, or parachutes to protect them from fatal falls. Performing well opens up opportunities to perform even better, creating a satisfying feedback loop.
Ninja Newton feels like an addictive, early arcade game and it comes with an awesome and appropriately peppy retro soundtrack. The flash game graphics won’t blow anyone’s mind, but they are smooth, fast, and effectively get out of the way of the twitchy gameplay. But most importantly, that gameplay is so fun and so endlessly replayable that we dare players not to get hooked.