Super Ninja Boy. Wait a minute…
Tough as nails platformers seem to have been on the rise; and that is exactly where Save the Ninja Clan sits. It’s a genre that can sometimes feel over saturated since the popularity of Super Meat Boy so it’s a lot harder for this kind of game to stand out. Fortunately there are some quirky game mechanics that will have you coming back to this one.
Your objective is fairly simple; you have to collect a series of scrolls in each world which are nicely positioned at the end of every level. You can also optionally grab a collectable token of which there is one per level if you possess supreme platforming abilities. However, in order to reach said scrolls you’ll be jumping across moving platforms, dodging laser beams and dashing away from razor sharp saws. All in a days work for your ninja companion. You’re also awarded a grade after each level and from the very beginning you’ll notice it has a fairly steep grading system: my first play through I continually got C’s and it’s very much a case of trial and error here. Even when I thought I had done a level pretty well I still ended up with a C and it wasn’t until I went back to them that I could improve which adds some depth and replayability.
You’re not just limited to one ninja as well, there are three different coloured ninjas you can switch between during the first 10 stages; after that there are specific points in which you can change if you so wish. Usually that’s the game giving you a polite hint that it might be wise to do so. The green ninja has the ability to double jump, purple can sprint pretty fast and grey has a teleportation dash which can get you out of a few sticky situations. It’s a really great idea as it breaks up the levels later on in the game and makes you think of alternative ways to tackle an obstacle which perhaps may not have been obvious before.
As I mentioned previously, there has been inspiration drawn from Super Meat Boy and its genre of platforming. That’s by no means a bad thing in this case and each level in Save the Ninja Clan feels like a huge challenge. The difficulty curve is quite steep, so if you shy away from that type of gameplay or would feel frustrated after a few deaths then you may want to steer clear of this one.
You’ll find a few enemies littered around which you can take out with your throwing knife, some take more than one hit and they also carry different weapons. You’re able to upgrade your weapon through progression, the more stages you complete and tokens you collect will give you more options to upgrade. In this case; points do mean prizes!
The last thing I’d like to talk about is the game breaking mechanic. During certain points in each stage you may see an area which looks unreachable or just a part of the scenery that looks a little “off”. I would encourage you to follow your intuition as you may be rewarded for finding these nifty little secret areas, you’ll be advised to turn around and to go back the other way. But don’t be fooled by this cheeky interaction; things aren’t always as they seem.
Save the Ninja Clan is a great title for fans of hardcore platforming, with three different worlds, boss battles and the option to alter the game speed to suit your playing needs you should be able to find the right balance. Just be aware the difficulty curve is very steep and can cause frustration right from the outset!