I guess it was inevitable, but with the release of their latest title on iOS, Mini Ninjas, Square Enix have joined the long line of companies making endless runner games for mobile.
However, this being Square Enix, the game sets itself apart immediately by looking gorgeous from the off. From the moment you press the big Go! button, a dragon swoops from the background and in to the screen, with our diminutive ninja chasing it until the level starts. Backgrounds are wonderful to watch as you whizz past, from dark forests to snowy mountain ranges, and the various enemies are well animated.
Gameplay is pretty much as you'd expect from the genre; run from left to right, avoid obstacles such as fires, spikes and rocks, and slash at the bad guys before they can cut you into bits. It's pretty simplistic with only 2 virtual buttons required, made up of a jump button on the left and a slash button on the right. There's a nice little touch where you can wall run by holding down the jump button and you can even fight airborne enemies with a well timed jump, but that's about it.
Along the way you'll find people locked in bamboo cages. If you manage to open these then you can play as the person you've rescued, from a lumbering hammer-wielding guy who can smash rocks to a thin female looking ninja that can gather all the nearby coins. These come few and far between though. There are even tiny animals to rescue, but these don't have any effect on the gameplay.
The trick in getting further is with coin collecting. Gather enough coins and you can head to the Dojo in the main menu to gather new outfits, potions and various items such as swords and shields. You can also choose just to save them up to restart from where you left off, which will cost you 800 coins at a time. Frugal savers can probably get a lot of extra mileage out of a single run if they build up enough coins from previous runs. Of course, you still get the option to spend real money and grab more coins this way, though it hardly seems worth it given that this would make the game far easier than it already is.
Another mainstay of the endless runner, the 3 objectives, is also present here. Expect to be asked to do a certain number of wall runs, animal collecting or simply fighting enemies to move your rank onwards and upwards. It's certainly another reason to keep coming back and doing the same run over and over.
With so many endless runners out there, Mini Ninjas doesn't feel like it does quite enough to stand out from the crowd, but the well designed graphics, use of different players and some nice power-ups still mean that it can be recommended to those fans looking for their next runner.
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 7
- Longevity: 6
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