Version Reviewed: 1.00
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound: Rating:
Game Controls: Rating:
Replay Value: Rating:
Ninja Smasher! is somewhat of a throwback. It sports NES-style graphics and borrows gameplay elements from classic titles like Castlevania, Metroid, and even Sonic the Hedgehog. Although its world can seem a little barren at times, Ninja Smasher! is fantastically fun to play and easy to recommend to anyone seeking a great translation of classic gaming experiences to a mobile platform.
In very throwback fashion, the story of Ninja Smasher! revolves around a damsel in distress. Players take control of a ninja protagonist that must fight monsters, soldiers, and other creatures as they gather the supplies needed to rescue her. Much like Castlevania or Metroid, this involves exploring a sprawling map to gather items in order to traverse to new areas and gather more items. This feedback loop repeats itself until players have all the skills and abilities necessary to reach the areas in the final section.
The best part about Ninja Smasher! isn't what it borrows from these classic games; rather, the way Ninja Smasher! controls is what makes it such a joy to play. Players tap the screen to give the ninja a target to jump toward, and as he jumps he'll spin his sword around. Enemies within the path of this jump may receive damage, but players can also specifically jump to attack any enemies within range. While this is a very simple solution to traversal control schemes on a touch device, it works extremely well - particularly because of Ninja Smasher!'s level design.
As players progress through the game, levels in Ninja Smasher! get increasingly crowded with enemies, obstacles, and geometry - all of which aid in keeping the basic platforming in the game interesting. Moving from one screen to another by jumping once over and over again would be a completely boring way for Ninja Smasher! to play out, and the designers knew this. To compensate, each screen in Ninja Smasher! contains a string of enemies that allows players to time their jumps and attacks so they zip across while dispatching all enemies in a way that is both challenging and satisfying. As players advance they will also earn additional traversal tools like a double-jump, fire ninjutsu, and a wall climb ability that all allow for additional exploration options both in brand new sections of the map as well as old ones.
The only thing that really detracts from Ninja Smasher! is that it doesn't present a particularly rich world. With the very simple graphics and environments, very little about the game lore really pushes players to advance. However, this problem is relatively easy to overlook since jumping and slicing enemies to move around is so satisfying.
Overall, Ninja Smasher! is the best translation of a classic exploration game to iOS that I've ever played. It abandons vestiges like on-screen d-pads and does so very much to the game's benefit. Although it has a pretty flimsy story and world, Ninja Smasher! more than makes up for itself by being so fun to control.