I-Ninja Review

Developer: Argonaut Games Publisher: Namco
Release Date: November 18, 2003 Also On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

Namco is in search of a platforming mascot that will compete with rival companies’ mascots, such as Sonic, Mario, Crash, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, etc. Their attempt at making long-time arcade favorite, Pac-Man a platforming legend failed, but was honorable in its own way nonetheless. Namco, in search of their new mascot, came up with I-Ninja, a ninja out to save the world from Master O-Dor.

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I-Ninja takes place on a small, earthlike planet called, “The World�. “The World� has four total islands, along with a moon base. “The World� has been invaded by Master O-Dor’s evil army, known as Ranx. They have imprisoned “The World’s� inhabitants, except for Ninja. “Sensei�, Ninja’s master, must rely on his student to retrieve the four lost Rage Stones. In I-Ninja, you will travel from island to island, earning grades by completing missions in each of the four islands. After you receive enough grades, you will gain a new Ninja Belt.

I found that there are a total of three main levels on each island, one person who will give you bonus missions, and then one boss battle. After you complete a mission, you can go back to that level to earn more grades, but this time, you will have to do something, such as collecting a certain number of red coins, before you can collect the grade at the end of the level, beat the clock to the end of the level, kill x number of Ranx, etc. However, you can only open levels that you have already beaten by upgrading your belt by one tier. Also, depending on how many Ranx that you kill, your sword can be upgraded.

I-Ninja’s glory comes from his ability to do such things as climb walls, run along walls, grind rails, run up half-pipes, chain swing around corners, wall jump, hover using his sword copter, and more. This is the core of the game and it is quite sweet, making it feel fresh compared to other games in the genre in which you just jump platforms and collect items.

The Ranx are an army of robotic ninjas, which will try to stop you from reaching your goal of the grade at the end of each level. Using moves such as fast attack, spin attack, uppercut, and the deadly lightning chop attack, Ninja can easily dismember a whole group of enemy Ranx and even cut them in half, literally. Ninja is also equipped with shurikens and darts; by using the left-trigger, you can go into first person-mode and then shoot them (Y for shurikens and X for darts) at enemies and items that need to be hit, such as targets. Aside from the normal moves that are available all of the time, rage abilities become unlocked throughout the game. By hitting an enemy or worse yet, taking damage, Ninja becomes enraged and is then capable of a Ninja Berserka (berserk attack), Ninja Revive (replenishes health), Ninja Shuriken (ride a giant shuriken into battle), and I-Ninja (invincible and extremely lethal).

There is more that I haven’t covered, but I will quickly close with the game’s graphics. The amount of detail in I-Ninja is simply fantastic. There are some nice lighting and water effects, but my major complaint is the fact that you can’t jump while you are in the water, you must instead swim to where you can walk up an embankment. I-Ninja also has many uniquely designed environments, many which take the design of factories, however, others are more of a jungle-theme, and it just depends on what island you are on. The major complaint that I have is the fact that there are some invisible walls, which sometimes result in your death, which made me overly frustrated with the game.

In I-Ninja, the good outweighs the bad three to one. With the release of some decent to high-quality platform titles on the Xbox over the past year and a half, the Xbox’s lineup is becoming much stronger in a genre that was once (and still is to an extent) lackluster. There is still room for improvement, none of the Xbox’s platforming titles can compete with the likes of GCN exclusive Super Mario Sunshine or PS2 exclusive Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, however, Xbox fans can have the next best thing, I-Ninja.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 7.3
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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