Developer: Kazufumi Shimamoto
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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With its combination of simple gameplay and weird, inexplicable aesthetics, NinRobo HD feels like something from gaming’s more bizarre, golden age. However, every game back then wasn’t necessarily on the same level as Super Mario Bros. Being strange can be great, just look at the Katamari franchise, but in NinRobo’s case it can’t always cover up mediocrity.
Players take control of NinRobo, a little ball who we can only assume is a ninja robot. NinRobo’s job is to hunt down force balls while avoiding enemy fire and other deadly traps. NinRobo comes equipped with a shuriken attack and can access other items like a shield, cannon, jetpack, and the ability to clone himself and quadruple his firepower. The force balls are usually in plain sight but actually getting to all of them without dying is harder than it looks. The enemies aren’t too difficult to deal with but the traps often come without warning. The random crevices are particularly bothersome.
Also bothersome are the controls. On the ground they work fine. Players can easily move and shoot quickly and activating the power-ups is enjoyable as well. However, the swipe controls for jumping, turning, and air movement are slow, awkward, and often leave NinRobo in even more dangerous situations.
While the basic gameplay is easy to quickly grasp the visuals are so strange players will most likely remain confused throughout the entire adventure. Unfortunately, NinRobo proves that even the weirdest art styles still need to meet certain technical standards. The game just assaults the player with blocky, random nonsense inside weirdly empty arenas. Players will probably die many times simply due to not understanding what they are looking at and what’s going on. The music tries its best to give the game the fun, fast, chaotic personality it’s striving for but it’s not enough. Speaking of not enough, the game is free but only comes with one level and two harder variations of it. The other 69 levels must be purchased.
With some more polish, NinRobo could’ve been a pleasant little action diversion. As it is now though, its poor visuals, often clumsy controls, and misuse of the freemium model drag down the experience considerably.