Ninja Reflex DS
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Ninja Reflex is a compilation of ninja themed mini games that are designed to test your reflexes. The mini-games have you doing things such as catching flies with chopsticks, grabbing swimming fish and slicing watermelons with nunchuks. For the most part the games on offer are OK but the problem is not with the quality of the mini-games but the quantity. With just six mini-games on offer there really isn’t a whole lot to the DS version of Ninja Reflex and that’s a real shame because there’s definitely potential here.
You’ll begin the game by choosing one of the four profile save slots and choosing a suitable name for yourself ‘Loud Leopard’ or ‘Conscious Tiger’ before being given a speech, which isn’t subtitled, from your Sensei. You’re then welcomed, in text, to Ninja Reflex and told that there are six Reflex Games that will help hone your skills. For each game there are a variety of challenges. Complete the challenges available for a mini-game and you’ll earn a jewel. Earn enough jewels and you will be able to take a belt test. Completing a belt test will unlock more challenges for each of the mini-games. Should you fail a belt test, you’ll have to go back and re-earn the three jewels before you can take the test again. There are quite a few belts to obtain and as well as unlocking additional challenges with each belt you earn, you will have slightly more difficult versions of those challenges you’ve already completed.
The mini-games on offer in Ninja Reflex are: Shuriken, Koi, Hotaru, Hashi, Nunchaku and Katana. In Shuriken you’ll throw the shuriken at a range of targets. You simply touch the target to lock on and then make an upward motion with the stylus to throw. Koi requires you to catch fish with your hands. There are three sizes of fish with more points being given for the smaller fish. You’ll use the stylus to move the hand and you have to quickly tap on a fish that comes up for air in order to catch it. Hashi is a game that requires you to catch flies with chopsticks. You’ll simply tap on the flies and then drag them to the bowl for safe keeping. Katana is a game where you have to block strikes (by quickly drawing a vertical line with the stylus) from an Oni (ghost demon) and when a successful block has been performed, you’ll have the opportunity to strike back by doing a horizontal line with the stylus. Hotaru challenges you with capturing fireflies. All that’s required here is that you tap on a firefly when it appears. Finally Nunchaku requires you to smash or hit objects with your nunchaku (nunchuks) by drawing a horizontal figure of eight with your stylus at the appropriate time. Koi, Katana and Nunchaku can be played as a multiplayer game for 2-4 players with players taking turns to play.
The quality of the mini-games is OK. Some are actually quite enjoyable in short bursts. The problem is that there aren’t enough of the mini-games to prevent Ninja Reflex from becoming repetitive very quickly. Unlocking extra challenges for each mini-game is all well and good but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re playing the same mini-games over and over again. Whilst the six games here are exactly the same ones as in the Wii version of Ninja Reflex, the controls feel like they have been simplified to a certain extent and the games, perhaps with the exception of Koi, all feel much easier than they do in the Wii version. As a result of this they also feel a little less rewarding.
There can be no denying that the general presentation of Ninja Reflex is rather impressive. The graphics are nicely detailed and the ninja theme has been captured rather well in terms of the visual style of menus and mini-game graphics. Deaf gamers get a bit of a raw deal however because there is quite a bit of speech here that isn’t subtitled. Thankfully none of the speech that isn’t subtitled is crucial to the experience but it’s still very disappointing. That said however, the in-game meditation feature is rendered pretty much useless by not being subtitled. Your reaction time is shown visually which is important as you’ll need to beat a specific reaction time for some challenges. Mini-game instructions and all essential information are shown in text. The game manual gives rather brief instructions on how to play the mini-games and informs you what needs to be done in order to progress in the game.
Ninja Reflex on the DS isn’t quite as enjoyable as it was on the Wii but it does cost a whole £10 less. That said however, neither version is as good as it could have been and both are guilty for having too little content and too little replay value. There are better mini-game collections on the DS which you should consider over Ninja Reflex. The real disappointment however, is that it’s easy to see how Ninja Reflex could have been so much better. Many more mini-games were needed and better multiplayer options should have also been included. Ninja Reflex is certainly not a bad game but it’s too light on content and there’s not enough here to keep you coming back for more for long.