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Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.4

Mini Ninjas
August 12, 2010 | Ted Bade

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Cloud Combat

Mac OS X: 10.5.8 | CPU: 1.8GHz | RAM: 1 GB |
Hard Disk: 5 GB | DVD drive | Graphics: 128MB Video Card

Feral Interactive has released a wonderful new third person fighter game called Mini Ninjas. What makes this game so appealing to me is the relative non-violence of the fighting system, the fun scenery and sound track all mixed with a good bit of humor. I found playing a lot of fun and look forward to completing it.

How does one create a fighting game that removes the violence? It’s all about the result of the battle. In most games of this genre you are shooting or fighting the enemy, generally killing them. In Mini Ninjas you are returning animals to their natural state. An evil overlord has used magic to turn harmless forest animals into slave samurai warriors. When you battle and defeat one of them, you gain some energy and the animal is freed from its captivity. This is a very interesting way to make a potentially violent game into an almost peaceful one and makes Mini Ninjas appropriate for most age levels.

In the universe of Mini Ninjas, the world is in peril. The evil overlord is working to take over the world (isn’t that what all evil overlord’s usually try to do?). The Ninja Master has sent out his most powerful ninjas to see what has happened. None return, and so he is left with the main character Hiro, the youngest ninja, and his friend Futo. They are sent out to discover what is happening, rescue the other ninjas, and save the world.

In the Mini Ninja’s system all the ninjas are in the same party, but only one is active at any given time. You start with Hiro and Futo, then add the others as they are rescued. Each has abilities that are useful in different situations. Since you can have only one ninja active at a time, you need to choose the best one for the current situation. Each ninja has different normal and a power attacks. Hiro fights with a sword and has a power attack that allows him to attack several enemies at once. Futo fights with a giant hammer and is better against the larger bad guys. His hammer attack includes a jump and slam that can devastate all but the major bosses. As you progress through the game you find and rescue the other four ninjas sent out before. When you do, they and their abilities are then available to use. The game system allows easy changing from one to another of the ninjas, even during battle. This is useful since one can develop different strategies for completing a battle based on the abilities. For instance, I like to sneak into a camp and use Shun’s arrow weapon to take out a few guards and attract others, then use his power attack that does a lot of damage to all attackers nearby, then switch back to Hiro to finish them off.

There are several different aspects to Mini Ninjas. First there is the main quest of saving the world and rescuing the other ninjas. Which of course involves battling and releasing the poor animals that have been turned to enslaved warriors. In addition to converting back the changed animals, you can also rescue caged animals that are awaiting conversion. Caged animals are in most camps, breaking the cage releases the animal. When you defeat an enemy or release a caged animal you gain energy balls that replenish your Ki (magical energy), charge your special power attacks, and add to your experience points.

Another aspect of Mini Ninjas is finding plants, special potions, and money. These items are hidden in vases, pots, boxes, and the tents of the enemy forces. Hiro can buy recipes that teach him how to use the plants he locates to make potions that can heal him or revive his magical energy, as well as a few different type of “bombs” that can be used in combat. Another special item that needs to be found are the Jizo statues. There are a number of them hidden in each level, sometimes finding them all requires that one move off the beaten path.

You can buy some items from the many temples that Hiro passes during his journey. Temples are operated by the Tengu crafters. The Tengu are a race of bird like creatures that help the Ninja Master as well as helping Hiro and his friends during their adventure. They also provide quests that can be completed to gain information, something of value, or access to a temple where things can be purchased.


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