He looks like a large,
round-headed Lego character, but you don’t want to see him mad … He is like the
eye of the storm – calm and focused, while about him chaos reigns.
Namco and Argonaut are the
driving forces behind the persona of I-Ninja, a third-person action-adventure
title for the PlayStation2 console. Sporting solid cutscenes that blend
seamlessly with the action, this is a combat title, filled with minor puzzles
and maze-like levels full of bad guys.
The game begins with a
cutscene. I-Ninja sneaks into a cave, where his sensei is chained. He defeats
the guards and frees his master, but then a large monster emerges. Fearlessly,
I-Ninja attacks and defeats the mob, and it relinquishes a glowing red, spiked
square. I-Ninja grabs the red object, even as his sensei is yelling ‘no!’
Hurled through the air,
I-Ninja becomes a cannon ball, and ultimately smashed into his master, killing
the latter. The pale blue ghost of his sensei rises from the ground and turns to
“You’re dead,” the warrior
“Your grasp of the obvious
is astounding,” replies the spirit.
“What was that thing?”
His master explains that it
was a Rage Stone, and that there are more that must be recovered. The sensei
only hopes there is time to teach I-Ninja all that is necessary in time to
confront the trials that lay ahead.
“Ah, he’s dead and still all
he can think about is my training.”
Each level is rather basic
in terms of the mission – complete a mission and sensei will give I-Ninja grade.
Grades will earn belts and demonstrate I-Ninja’s mastery of the ninja way.
The first task will take
I-Ninja to Robot Beach, where a series of missions will be given to I-Ninja.
The game centers on The
World, a realm that has been invaded by Master O-Dor’s evil army. The World’s
population has been imprisoned, and in order to free them all, I-Ninja (the
title character) must recover four artifacts – the Rage Stones – and battle
through all the levels and minions to face O-Dor. Many of what you will face are
the robotic Ranx.
I-Ninja has many skills to
use, including a chain to help him swing across gaps, and a sword hover to
helicopter to distant platforms. There are power-ups to collect en route, and
checkpoints will record progress.
The sound is very good and
the game is not without some attempts at light humor. The sensei will impart
such wisdom as “a stitch in time is worth two … in the bush.” Meanwhile, I-Ninja
himself is quite personable. The music can be a little techno-drab, but the
overall quality of the game is very solid.
The graphical elements are
very well done. This game looks lush and colorful and is a rich
three-dimensional world. Renowned animators and filmmakers Don Bluth and Gary
Goldman aided with the cutscenes and those blend seamlessly into the game’s
action. The animation and special effects are very well done. The game also has
a fully rotatable camera.
Other game features include
five principle environments, multiple weapons, and a rewards system for new
The levels can be rather redundant it terms
of what you need to accomplish and the general layout. While the game itself
looks very good, the gameplay is repetitious, though it does try to embrace
several arcade-like elements, such as timed errands.
I-Ninja is a delightfully visual game that
may be a little simplistic but does play well. The humor can be strained, but
this is a title that should appeal to gamers of different age levels.
This is somewhat redundant. The levels are
mazes, which require reflexive interplay of timed jumps and running along walls.
The controls are simple to use but each level is more or less the same.
The game foregoes dynamic lighting or shadow
effects, but does deliver on rich and lush three-dimensional environments, and
solid animation. This is a gorgeous game to look at.
The music can be annoying after a bit, and
the humor a bit strained, but the vocal acting is solid and the battle elements
Not much is hidden here. You see the levels
laid out before you and can usually see the course through them. The puzzles are
not that hard to figure out.
The interface is simple, and the controls
are designed to allow players to get into the game quickly. The story is not
bad, though a little shopworn.
I-Ninja is a terrific treat for the eyes.
The gameplay is simplistic and veteran gamers should pass on this, as it won’t
be a diversion for long. But younger players may find this a wonderful little
arcade adventure in a lush world.