Ninja Blade

When first having a crack at Ninja Blade, this reviewer came to the realisation that it is quite similar to that of the Xbox game Kung Fu Panda. Now, you might be thinking that this is a crazy statement, but there are some interesting similarities

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Ninja Blade
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By  Gareth Van Zyl Published  May 18, 2009

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Key Specs

Number of players: 1
Online play: N
Price: $73

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When first having a crack at Ninja Blade, this reviewer came to the realisation that it is quite similar to that of the Xbox game Kung Fu Panda. Now, you might be thinking that this is a crazy statement, but there are some interesting similarities. The two games both have a ‘ninja’ theme going, but they also share one similarity in terms of game-play: ‘quick time events’.

You have to have fast reflexes when pushing buttons at ‘surprise’ moments to progress through Ninja Blade. While this particular feature is present in only a section of Kung Fu Panda, it is a permanent fixture of Ninja Blade and comes with a playback feature in which if you’re reactions are not fast enough, you can always have another crack at that particular event. Throughout Ninja Blade, from beginning to end, you are presented with moments where you have to be on your toes.

However, while Kung Fu Panda is a game for a younger audience and with a much more light-hearted storyline, Ninja Blade on the other hand has a darker storyline. The game revolves around the storyline that in the year 2010 at a ‘site’ referred to as “Ground: ALPHA”, a small village, was attacked by a pack of wild animals. The survivors were brought to a nearby research facility for treatment and while medical staff were cleaning the patients’ bite wounds, the medical staff discovered the “Alphaworms”.

Normal medication was ineffective and the parasites rapidly multiplied while triggering off uncontrollable bleeding and open sores amongst its victims. These victims’ bodies then began to deform with their muscles swelling and bursting through their skin. Soon, the patients turned violent.

After the horror that followed at Ground: Alpha, the Global United Infestation Detection and Elimination (GU-I-D-E) task force, which has elite soldiers from around the world, started to try taking control of the situation. The game then starts in the year 2015, when the hook worm species of “Alpha-worms” have a parasitic hold on downtown Tokyo. The director of GUIDE then advises the Japanese Prime Minister to clear out downtown Tokyo so that they can clear the area of the parasites that grow into huge 'monsters'.

As you can judge from the storyline, Ninja Blade is fantastical in its approach (as all Japanese games usually are). In the first few stages of this game, your character is flying out of helicopter into the depths of Tokyo. The fight scenes themselves are very dramatic as beams of light are emitted everywhere upon a punch or kick.

When it comes to game-play though, Ninja Blade is actually quite a difficult game. The controls are not simple to master and if you don’t have lightning quick reflexes it can be a challenge to perfect. Furthermore, this game has interesting extensibility in so far as it features pole jumps, wall runs, grapples, finish attacks and reflecting projectiles. And then there’s ‘Ninjutsu’ which involves Ninja masters channeling their ‘chi’ to manipulate the world around them.

By pressing the ‘B’ button one can harness the powers of a ‘Cyclone Shuriken’ which unleashes a blast of air that knocks enemies off their feet. Then there’s the ‘Flame Shuriken’ that explodes upon impact, and also the lightning Shuriken which allows you to summon a lightning storm that auto-targets enemies.

Gamers can channel their chi into a form of ninja vision, which helps your character to boost reflexes and read your environment. You can then use this to dodge threats, outrun pursuers and attack enemies. Ninja Vision also allows you to scan the environment, revealing invisible objects and highlighting important information. When blue the ninja vision represents walls you can run on. Enemies’ armour is highlighted in orange while explosive objects and enemies are highlighted in red. Highly flammable plant-types are highlighted in green, which then means that you can use your Flame Shuriken to set them ablaze.

The game is a finger bashing one that requires fast reactions in terms of pressing a number of what is sometimes relatively complicated combinations. But it is a run-a-minute game that will keep you on you’re toes. If you’re also into a storyline that is way out there, then this game is for you.

For: Jumping out of the chopper over-looking the Tokyo skyline and then having to react quickly to beat off the enemies.
Verdict: A game that has interesting visual display but slightly difficult and overly complex game-play.

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