When stolen carrots are at stake, there's only one thing to do: send in a rabbit and fox ninja duo with enough weapons to start World War III. Add in a council of not very smart bad guys who make questionable decisions, and you have Ninjin: Clash of Carrots
, a cartoony beat 'em up from developer Pocket Trap. The game has moments of lighthearted fun, but they are more often overshadowed by frustrating mechanics and a surprising amount of difficulty.
A playthrough of Ninjin
consists of worlds and levels. The bright and colorful levels proceed left to right in the visual style of an endless runner, with the background in constant motion. Enemies proceed in waves that must be completed. New baddies are continually encountered, requiring different tactics of approach, but all dropping carrots when defeated that can be used as currency. At the end of each world awaits a boss. The dialogue between levels or after fights is light, the plot and characters ridiculous. Ninjin
doesn't take itself too seriously and can be experienced with a friend in local or online co-op to lighten the mood more.
In true ninja fashion, Ninjin
's tools of the trade are swords and throwables. There is a huge amount of each that can be dropped in item boxes found in levels or purchased back at the store with carrots. All items have their own appearance (some of which are pretty funny), damage numbers, critical strike chance and unique attributes like the ability to bounce off enemies or cause explosions. There are also selectable special attacks, charms that provide passive boosts to your character and purely cosmetic items. All in all, there is a whopping amount of customization, and the unlocks come hard and fast. There is something new to be tested after every level, which keeps things interesting.
Level design is hit or miss. The more fast-paced, action-packed levels can be a ton of fun, and it's satisfying to string together big combos on a wave of enemies as the game pushes you along. It's when Ninjin
strays from what it knows and ventures into new mechanics that the experience get spotty. In some cases, the difficulty ramps up almost absurdly. For example, at one point, I was fighting a replica of one of the game's challenging bosses while two invincible enemies filled up half the screen with deadly lasers every half second. Or, during another part, I was in a small enclosed space fighting a miniboss while a horde of melee enemies surrounded me, all while a ranged crew fired rockets on me from afar. It felt like the developers were trying to make certain sections more interesting, but in the process unintentionally made portions of the game really hard instead.
There's nothing wrong with a challenging game, but dying from such ridiculous encounters and frustrating mechanics feels unfair and unfun instead of making the player want to try again. The difficult segments escalate as Ninjin
goes on, culminating in a final, ludicrous, three-phase boss fight that will have many players' throwing up their hands and walking away. Some of the customization goes out the window as the game goes on, too, because it feels like certain items must be equipped to stand any chance against the later bosses. The way the end-game missions went, and everything that went along with them, ended up leaving a bad taste that overshadowed the enjoyment of the early levels.
The achievement list is straightforward but not as easy as it looks. Players must essentially 100% the game, getting the maximum rank of S on every level, owning every item in the game and reaching wave 50 in a mini-game mode. While farming the carrots to buy items available in the store isn't hard, some availability of the items is tied to beating the game, which will be a challenge for some players. Others seem tied to the S rankings and the mini game (I say this because I have beaten the game but am still missing some items after clearing out the shop). In time, guides will surface on this, and everything can be clarified. The S rankings also tie up a huge amount of gamerscore — 200 in fact
— plus more if there are indeed items tied to S rankings, so just beating the game will only get you so far.
SummaryNinjin: Clash of Carrots
starts out as a silly, colorful beat 'em up, then takes a dark turn down a surprisingly frustrating and challenging path. There is a huge arsenal of weapons and perks with which to engage enemies in both local and online co-op. New gear is constantly unlocked along the way, which keeps things interesting (until you rage quit, that is). A little challenge is fine, but in Ninjin
, many mechanics feel unfair, and the later bosses' difficulty level is a sharp contrast to the rest of the game. A bit of balancing of the end-game missions would do wonders, but unless that happens, Ninjin
remains hard to recommend to everyone.
- Light, fluffy and doesn't take itself too seriously
- Constant unlocks and customization keep things interesting
- Has both online and local co-op
- ... until the difficulty randomly ramps up astronomically
- Instead of challenging, hard parts feel unfair and are wrought with frustrating mechanics
The reviewer spent 11 hours with Ninjin: Clash of Carrots, eventually retrieving the stolen carrots and beating the game in the process. 25 of 33 achievements were won during the playthrough. A review code was provided by the ID@Xbox team.
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