Based on the website and adorable plush toy line of the same name, Ninjatown is a real-time strategy game about a town of Ninjas out to defend themselves and their way of life from invading devils. Ol' Master Ninja heads the forces of good, directing the residents on how to deflect the invaders from his hot air balloon. Between each level are witty scenes of conversations between Master and his Ninjas, which progress a simple, but cute plot.
Master's guidance from the sky plays out with stylus controls artfully mixed with the ability to change your field of view using the D-pad. This enables you to quickly and precisely make decisions such as placing the buildings inhabiting Ninjas spring from to fight waves of Wee Devils. As each group is defeated, you utilize the brief time before the next wave to build new areas or improve your existing one, using resources gained from the fallen enemies. This lends the game the strategy of smart resource management, without all the boring mining of a traditional RTS, more in line with Tower Defense type games.
As you go through story mode, more unit types open up, such as Lava Ninjas and pick-axe wielding Mountain Ninjas. They’re all pretty useful, none coming off as gimmicky or needless once a better Ninja appears. The support buildings and their perks are also a nice touch, but all but a couple seemed superfluous to us as we played; getting extra resources or improved range is great, but a small increase in speed or defense wasn’t worth the real estate. And overall the game has a welcoming difficulty curve that lets the player learn without feeling like it's going easy on you.
Each map is a great time, from “outlast the enemies” missions to time attacks and occasional boss battles, making the player want to keep going and going, which is not completely in Ninjatown's favor. While you can replay any map in hopes of getting a better score, after completing the story, you will have played all the single player areas there are. Plus, going to older maps feels restrictive, as you can't use your newer units in areas they weren't available in before. But for 10-12 hours, Ninjatown is a very charming and habit-forming, if modest, RTS that puts a throwing star right in our hearts.
Nov 6, 2008