Published by: SouthPeak Games
Developed by: Venan Entertainment
Ninjatown was a beautiful and peaceful place until a nearby volcano, Mt. Feroshi, mysteriously erupted. Since then Mr. Demon and his evil hordes, have attacked Ninjatown and they are bent on destruction. You'll take on the role of Ol' Master Ninja and it's up to you to organise the ninja students to repel the invasions of Mr. Demon and his hordes. Ninjatown is a game based on the Shawnimals toys. Whilst games that are based on toys are usually poor affairs, the same cannot be said of Ninjatown, which is one of the most pleasant surprises on the Nintendo DS this year.
Ninjatown is a Tower Defence game. If you've played PixelJunk Monsters on the PlayStation 3 you'll have a pretty good idea of what these games involve. Essentially they are real-time strategy games where you have to prepare your forces to withstand wave after wave of enemy attacks. In Ninjatown you'll prepare your ninja forces to withstand the attacks from the forces of Mr. Demon, the Devils. You'll place ninja houses and from each house a couple of ninjas will come and automatically defend against any attackers that come within their radius. Each enemy that makes it through your defences will reduce your heart count by one. Should you lose all of your hearts, you'll lose the mission.
In order to defend against the Devils you'll need to place Ninja Huts on an available building lot and each hut will cost you a certain amount of cookies. You'll begin a mission with a certain amount of cookies and you'll earn additional cookies by defeating enemies. Ninja Huts can be upgraded and this will improve your ninjas' attributes that have come from that Ninja Hut. You can see what level your hut has been upgraded to by looking at the amount of shuriken stars on the patch of land in front of the hut. You can see what radius your units will cover by tapping on a Ninja Hut. Your forces will initially comprise of just the Wee Ninjas and the Anti Ninjas (who are slow but super-strong). As the game progresses you'll gain access to more ninja types. The Business Ninjas and Mountain Ninjas, with the Wee and Anti-Ninjas are melee fighters whereas the Sniper Ninjas, White Ninjas, Forest Ninjas and Lava Ninjas are range fighters.
Aside from placing Ninja Huts and upgrading them, you can build modifier buildings, such as the Training Dojo, which will improve your ninjas' effectiveness in battle. There are also some Ol' Master Ninja Powers that you can use. You can slow down, blow away (yes you'll blow into the microphone to do this), fry and smack invading Devils and you can also give your ninjas a boost too. Ninjatown is a game that's mostly about preparation and you don't have a lot of control over how your ninjas will perform in battle so it's good to be able to exert some degree of control on the battles in this way.
In addition to the single-player game which has thirty-six missions, split over 9 districts, Ninjatown also supports multiplayer gaming. Both single and multi-card gaming is supported for two players. The amount of options are limited however if you only have one copy of the game. In the multiplayer game you'll both defend Ninjatown against your enemies with the winner being the one who successfully defends Ninjatown and defeats the incoming enemies the quickest. It's a good addition to the game and provides an interesting diversion from the single-player experience.
The presentation of Ninjatown is both simplistic and charming. The ninjas look bright and colourful and not at all what you would expect from a ninja but this doesn't work against the game at all. Even the enemies, the Devils, aren't exactly menacing in their appearance. The battles are played out on the touch screen and the top screen is reserved to display important information that will tell you when the next enemy wave will occur, a mini-map and information about how many cookies and hearts you have left.
All of the dialogue in Ninjatown is in text so you'll have absolutely no problem at all in following the storyline. You'll have to tap the touch screen to move the dialogue forward so you'll get to read the text at your own pace. Character portraits are shown and the dialogue is displayed in speech balloons so it's always possible to see who is saying what. All tutorial information, given by the Ninja Consultant, are shown in text and you can recall all kinds of tutorial information by accessing the Consultant's Files from the pause menu.
There might be other RTS titles on the Nintendo DS but I doubt that there are many which are as accessible and enjoyable as Ninjatown. It's a fun and light-hearted Tower Defence RTS that pitches the difficulty level just right and keeps things interesting throughout the single-player game. The multiplayer game rounds off the experience quite nicely too. Those wanting a more traditional RTS might be a little disappointed that you can't exert more influence on the battles but as with any Tower Defence game, it's all about preparation rather than being able to have full control of your units and their actions. Those who do enjoy Tower Defence games will find a lot to like here however.