Puzzle platformers were the most common games in the days of the Gamecube and Playstation 2. In this sea of jumping and hack-n-slash, it’s difficult for a game to stand out. I-Ninja was one of the best.
Ninjas Are All The Rage…
I-Ninja starts with the end of a rescue mission to save Sensei. As your character: Ninja, you easily dispatch the enemies. However, before the Ninja can free his Sensei, one of the enemies spits out a “Rage Stone” that makes the Ninja crazy with rage and he accidently beheads his master.
It’s okay though, because Sensei comes back as a ghost to help Ninja defeat the evil Ranx and collect the Rage Stones. Each rage stone will give you new abilities from being able to heal yourself to riding a giant ninja star.
Along the way you’ll be able to upgrade your sword by getting kills. You’ll also collect shuriken (throwing stars) that can ricochet and explosive darts to take out enemies from a distance.
I-Ninja has some of the best combat of any hack-n-slash I have ever played (in my opinion). Being able to perform combos and finishers while fighting groups of enemies is very satisfying. I’m partial to the finishing move that slices the enemy in half, with each half falling slowly apart.
It’s Okay, They’re Synthetic
What would normally be considered ultra-violence is made more tame with the enemies being synthetic, so all you see is green goop. The whole game is a mash-up of this cartoonish style and steep difficulty mixing well with the comedic tone of the dialogue. I-Ninja doesn’t take itself seriously at all.
What it does take seriously is the difficulty. While the combat is impressive, it’s not the only focus of the gameplay. I-Ninja is interspersed with sections of fast-paced platforming where Ninja can run along walls and use a chain to swing or make sharp turns. There are also sections that require rolling something along platforms (barrels, large spheres, etc.). These sections can be very frustrating and will test your patience, however, if you have a decent controller, the balance and physics are very precise.
I-Ninja didn’t really break new ground. It’s combat and platforming sections can feel a little repetitive at times, and progress can be slowed by the need to collect tokens by completing challenges in each stage in order to move to a new area. These things contrasted against the positives are minor, though. As it is an older game, it’s a little hard to get ahold of now, but if you see it, do yourself a favor and pick it up. It does not disappoint!