The only real exception with Ninja Reflex is that instead of teaching you everyday things, this game teaches you how to be a ninja – which is pretty darn badass.
Essentially the game is split up into six minigames which see you doing different activities and taking advantage of the DS’ touch screen. There’s a shuriken game where you have to target paper enemies by touching them and then attack them by drawing a vertical line; a fishing game where you have to gently hover your stylus over the fish until they surface and then tap their head to catch them; a firefly game where you simply tap the fireflies as and when they appear; a fly catching game where, again, you tap them and drag them into a spinning bowl (yeah I didn’t understand that bit either); a katana game where you draw lines towards the enemies attacks and then scribble on them to kill them, and finally; a nunchuck game where you have to trace a figure of eight to operate the nunchuck and use the “L” button to attack the incoming fruit (yes, fruit!).
The controls work pretty brilliantly. It’s only in later levels, where timing is (extremely) frantic, that you’ll curse them. Initially they work unbelievably well however. My particular favourite is the nunchuck game which is pretty innovative and requires a certain level of practice, timing and skill.
Given that the title is Ninja Reflex, all the minigames rely on timing and reactions. It’s just a shame EA didn’t take this concept further and provide you with accurate statistics based on your performance in the game. Why didn’t they include graphs showing how you’re average reaction time fluctuated over a period of time? Why didn’t they provide a breakdown of how you perform in the different minigames (the firefly game is very much about sight whereby the shuriken game is very much about speedy, concise movements)? It’s sad that EA haven’t provided gamers with the comprehensive data we all crave and it’s a big missed opportunity. It also limits the replay value as once you have seen all the minigames and completed all the challenges there is no real reason to revisit the game.
Replay value is probably where Ninja Reflex falls flat on it’s face. Given that there are only the 6 minigames (seriously, that’s it) to visit you’d be hard pushed to get your moneys worth out of this game. While EA have tried to shake it up by applying different challenges to each minigame (i.e. only catch small fish; catch a firefly with an exact one second reaction time; etc) they get tired pretty quick. It’s not to say that the minigames aren’t perfectly polished and well executed – it’s just there are not enough of them in there.
I don’t know what EA could have done to beef out Ninja Reflex but all I know is there certainly isn’t enough there to warrant it’s £19.99 price tag. Even though the presentation is spectacular and the dialogue hilariously tongue-in-cheek, sadly there’s not enough “game” here to recommend a purchase.
A multiplayer mode and “meditation” section (where the DS talks to you and tells you how to breathe) really don’t do much to bolster out the experience and sadly Ninja Reflex becomes another game that’s well executed and beautifully polished while it lasts but doesn’t stand up against similarly priced DS games which have bags more to do.
Ninja Reflex does work brilliantly, it's an excellent concept and most of all is fun but sadly there’s not nearly enough to it. We’d definitely welcome a bolstered out sequel but until then - see if you can find this game for £9.99.