Your ninja friends have been kidnapped by some dastardly evil enemy and you are the lucky one that did not get captured. You must set out on a journey to rescue your friends and keep the ninja can alive. Be forewarned though as ninjas have limitations: “Ninjas cannot swim; Ninjas cannot climb wood; Ninjas die if injured; Ninjas can explode on death; Ninjas are weak to: bullets, rockets, grenades, spikes, lava and more…”
Save the Ninja Clan is a platformer that provides some intense challenges. The game was created with short levels that can be played in short spurts to allow the player to spend time optimizing the timing and path they take to allow for speed runs. The game maintains a variety of statistics to allow you to realize the number of times you die, the type of ways you died, enemies you’ve killed and the number of times you’ve killed enemies just to name a few.
The games controls are very straight forward. You can jump, attack and switch between ninja abilities. The game provides three abilities that you can use to defeat the challenges the game provides. First is the double jump, which allows you to do two jumps to reach higher platforms or jump further across the screen without touching the ground. Second is the smoke bomb, this ability allows you to disappear and avoid any attacks that might have killed you. Finally there is the fast run, this ability allows the ninja to run faster to allow you to get ahead of obstacles or a wall of blades that is chasing after you.
The Shuriken has many uses in Save the Ninja Clan. It can be used as a weapon to block enemy bullets and weapons from killing you as well as killing the enemies so they can’t continue to try to kill you. The shurikens can also be thrown against certain walls to act as a step ladder to allow you to climb tall obstacles you wouldn’t be able to without the shuriken.
Save the Ninja Clan is designed as a game for speed running. As such the levels can be quite challenging and punishing. There were times where I would rack up over 60 deaths on a level before finally successfully passing it and grabbing the scroll. The various tools and power options are designed for the gamer that can manage the twitch jumps and precise movements and timing to get the fastest and accurate jumps to complete the levels.
The graphics are very simple and do get sacrificed to allow for the developers to focus on level design that challenges and pushes the gamer to the edge of their capabilities and skills. The fortunate thing is that because the gamer is so focused on getting past the level and figuring out the timing and jumps, they don’t have as much time to pay attention to the graphics and focus completely on the gameplay.
However, for a game that is based on precision of jumps and timing the games controls are not as accurate as they could be. During jumps there are times the double jump is hard to kick in, and once you land on a surface there is a slide effect that can impact your ability to optimize the next jump. I found that sometimes I would slide off the edge and then try to recover with my jumps but then it would be too late and I would have to start again. Also for a game that has an aspect of rushing and trying to get through the level at a breakneck speed, the refire rate of your weapon is so slow that sometimes you are in a rush to make the next jump and don’t have time to kill an enemy so you are playing a spastic balancing. Also if you misfire a stepping shuriken, it is potentially an insta-death as you won’t have reload time to throw another one to make the necessary jump to get out of trouble.
The final issue I found with the game, was the multiple abilities. The only way to move back and forth between them is through a linear process, so you had to cycle all the way through to get to the desired ability. With all the additional buttons on controllers the developers could have taken advantage of the bumper or trigger buttons to allow for moving forward or backwards through the abilities for even more efficient play. Even if this were implemented I found that I only ever used the double jump ability and rarely found the other two abilities of any great use to waste time on them. Perhaps if I were a hardcore speed run streamer then I would be more efficient with them.
The game provides a very interesting challenge and falls into the extremely challenging side of the gaming spectrum. This is a new trend in a lot of indie games as speed runs and the desire for challenging games allows for interesting streams and twitches that can capture viewers and really make a player feel like they are getting their money’s worth. Even though the game has a unique design that fits a certain player, there are limits that will allow the game to be accessible to the vast majority of players out there. And while games can be challenging and push players to the edge, there must also be an accessibility to help make the game successful and capture the hearts of a vast majority of players. This limited accessibility with some of the flaws such as the controls and physics lead Redonkulous Gaming to give Save the Ninja Clan a 7.5 out of 10.