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I-Ninja

Developer: Argonaut Games | Publisher: Namco
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 12/04/03 | Genre: Action

I didn't give I-Ninja much thought when I saw it at E3 2003. I was more concerned with seeing as much of Soul Calibur II as possible. However, what I did see of I-Ninja showed an adventure that was comical with intense gameplay that frustrated even the Namco representative showing off the game. Now that we have had our hands on the final product and have played through it, I-Ninja falls short in a few categories.

Our story begins with the character known as Ninja watching some powerful enemies torture his sensei. Ninja jumps into the action and proceeds to kick everyone's butt. However, a large boss enemy appears and after defeating it, Ninja absorbs a Rage Stone. This stone causes him to lose control of himself and then he murders his sensei--who then transforms into a ghost. Your sensei, not really upset after his death, guides you on a quest to uncover all the Rage Stones in the world.

Okay, I understand the world is in danger and you are the only hope to save it. However, shouldn't Ninja feel a little bit upset at what he did to his sensei? Shouldn't he at least think about pursuing a side-quest to uncover a potion of life? Maybe being a short Ninja with a big head causes you to lose compassion for your sensei?

Despite his lack of common sense, Ninja is a character that would be considered cute. Much like Link in The Wind Waker, a glance at Ninja will cause you to not take him seriously. The game world also leads you to this conclusion because everything is bright and colorful. However, when defeating enemies, they can be sliced in half, explode with goo, and even expose their guts. Also, even though the Xbox is the most powerful console, the developers didn't do a lot to take advantage of the console's power. While the Xbox version is a slight visual upgrade over the other versions, you won't easily tell a difference.

The gameplay in I-Ninja is pretty simple but it will leave you very frustrated. While the game appears to be for kids, the difficulty of the title will make it a little difficult for players of a younger age.

Ninja can perform several moves like running, jumping, double-jumping, hover-jump, and running up walls. There are a few times when Ninja can also use his grappling hook to swing across places he couldn't jump. At some point during a level, you will be placed in a giant sphere, control a giant robot, balance on a wooden keg full of explosives, or defend a beach from several waves of enemies. While these elements add a little bit to the standard button smashing action, they don't last long enough and leave you wanting a little more variety.

Each level is a different mission. Depending on how many levels you have beaten before determine your skill level. So you won't have all areas open at first until you get some training done.

I found that the gameplay in I-Ninja was just a little bit repetitive and this took some of the fun out of the game. This doesn't necessarily make the game bad or not worth a look, I just found it to be a little bit above average. However, if you are in the market for a light-hearted action title with plenty of challenge, give I-Ninja a look. It may just be the right combination for you. It just didn't quite hit a home-run for me.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 02/08/04
ESRB Details: Animated Blood, Violence
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Screenshots for I-Ninja

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