Final Ninja

So much better than pirates.

As you may be aware, one of my mission statements with the games portion of this blog is to highlight what I think are some of the defining talents in browser-based and independent game design.  But in doing so there is something of a catch.

One that nitrome embodies almost perfectly.

What if there were a game designer who was well respected, whom I respected, and was clearly a positive force in the world of casual gaming, and yet, I personally haven’t enjoyed a single game this designer has put out.

That’s nitrome to a t.  I have the utmost respect for the designer, but for personal reasons just never really enjoyed any of nitrome’s games.  This is strange considering that nitrome’s predeliction for SNES era visuals is right up my alley.

What’s more, I recognize most nitrome games as being good themselves, just nothing that I can get really excited about.

THANK GOD nitrome came up with Final Ninja, a game that is definitely in keeping with nitrome’s 2d retro style gaming, and yet one that I find myself truly enjoying.

You take command of an aged ninja, the final ninja master who decided it was time for retirement from the assassination business.  Unfortunately your underwold masters were none too pleased with your decision and one in particular, Akuma, has chosen to punish you for your insolence.

The lackeys that were sent after you, however, weren’t even a good warm up for the greatest ninja of all time, but as you stand amid the piles of their lifeless broken bodies, only one thing is clear.  Akuma won’t stop until you force him to stop.

Thus you don the suit one more time for your final mission.

Final Ninja is an action game with some aspects of stealth added, though one would be in error to even attempt to quantify this as a stealth game.  Forget MGS, or even Sly Cooper, you’ll find yourself chucking ninja stars and swinging from the rafters more often than you will find yourself slinking in the shadows.

But that’s what makes it fun.  In it’s most basic form, Final Ninja is an updated take on the old Bionic Commando concept which is itself not a very bad start at all (Bionic Commando still remains one of the awesomest NES games ever).  But the added ability to turn invisible by hitting the down or the S key and having enemies and traps whose defeat practically rely upon this maneuver really kicks the game up a notch.

The controls are simple to grasp and simple to master, and the action is well paced.  I love the grappling hook ability which is suitably ergonomic and handles almost exactly like the grappling ability in the Worms series. 

The rest of the gameplay is fine.  I think one  of the things I’ve always held against nitrome has been what I have at least perceived to be sticky, almost sluggish control.  Final Ninja still has residual traces of clunky gameplay, but overall things are fast, smooth, and engaging, especially compared to the rest of nitrome’s library.

Cap this off with some cool post-apocalyptic imagery, and glowing green eyes, and you have a classic browser action title from a classy designer.

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