HappyGiant, a US-based developer and publisher made up of veterans from the likes of LucasArts and Activision among other big studios, has released a free-to-play iPhone and iPad game called Ninja Time Pirates.
As you can probably imagine from its name, Ninja Time Pirates isn’t a serious title.
It is, in fact, a rather zany action-RPG squad-based shoot-‘em-up in which you play as Ben Franklin, Blackbeard, and other famous historical characters as you attempt to uncover a conspiracy and save the planet from an alien invasion.
Across Ninja Time Pirates’ 20 action-packed levels, you’ll journey through various time eras and advance a plot that involves The Philadelphia Experiment, Roswell, Nikola Tesla, and many other conspiracy theories that you’ve no-doubt heard about over the years.
Levels in Ninja Time Pirates are filled with strategic missions to complete (some of which require different approaches) from full on action, to stealth missions.
You can grab one of the game’s ridiculously over-the-top upgradeable weapons and blast everything that moves, for example, or you can channel legendary hero Solid Snake (who isn’t in the game) and sneak your way past enemy defenses. You can even capture alien tanks and use them against their previous owners.
Ninja Time Pirates was inspired by a variety of mobile and console titles.!
The game’s fun and slightly crazy weapons were heavily influenced by the diverse arsenal found in the Ratchet and Clank console series, while the game’s basic control mechanic (tap to move and tap to attack) was inspired by mobile title Tiny Troopers 2.
Made by veterans of LucasArts, on the story side, Ninja Time Pirates has an ‘X-Files meets Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ vibe. According to Mike Levine, HappyGiant’s chief creative officer, he also references Buckaroo Banzai (a movie that he calls ‘an oldie but a goodie’).
“Ninja Time Pirates mixes every conspiracy theory out there into a giant pretzel-looking thingy – and what comes out is pretty cool,” he said. “I also met with and studied the work of Ron Mallett – the leading astrophysicist in the country studying time travel”.
“So, even though the game is meant to be ridiculous (and it most definitely is!), a lot of the science in it is rooted in real and current scientific theory,” he concluded.
Ninja Time Pirates features ‘insanely cool graphics and visual FX’ for a mobile game, and Levine believes that this (combined with the game’s story) makes it stand out from similar titles that are available.
Each Time Guardian (or historical figure) in Ninja Time Pirates has fully upgradeable special powers and abilities based on their real-world counterpart (George Washington can drop damaging “cherry bombs” for instance), and the FX visually change and grow as you upgrade them.
￼Levine is incredibly proud of the fact that HappyGiant studied real history during the development of Ninja Time Pirates and implemented it into the game. Throughout Ninja Time Pirates, in fact, you can pick up ‘chronofacts’, which are a little card game within the game that contain real historical facts
“On top of the very accessible gameplay mechanic and amazing graphics we have, I hope people will appreciate the history and story,” he said.
Ninja Time Pirates is currently available to download from the App Store, and it’ll also be available on Google play within the next couple of weeks.
After the Android version of the game is released, HappyGiant will spend some time adding new content to Ninja Time Pirates, including new Time Guardians. If you’d like to see a specific hero character from earth’s past pop up in-game, HappyGiant is taking requests.
The developers is also close to finishing a ‘Time Raids’ multiplayer mode that will allow you to lead your team of historical battlers into carnage against your friends as you try to steal their hard- earned loot.
Ninja Time Pirates is available to download for free, and you can purchase in-game goodies via IAPs for cash. Levine sees this free-to-play model as ‘something that isn’t going away’ on mobile platforms and believes that it’s up to developers to figure out how to make it work so that it also benefits players.
“We chose to make this game very easy to play from the monetization stand-point, and we don’t pull the rug from under players and force them to pay too soon if at all. We are going for long-term players in this game and not looking to make a quick buck,” Levine commented.!
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