Multiplayer brawling with cute little deadly Ninjas.
Following in the foot steps of the Super Smash Bros. series and the awkwardly named PlayStation Allstars Battle Royale, Grip Games’ Atomic Ninjas grants the player a chance to put the beat down on their opponents in an arena-based, side-scrolling, platform-styled brawler. Atomic Ninjas is available for both the PS3 and the Vita, and buying one will gift the player with the other ensuring that the brawling action can go everywhere the player does.
Starting with a reasonably long tutorial, the player will be treated to instruction on how to use the variety of different equipment items and skills available to them. The teacher, an aged and incredibly sarcastic Ninja, will walk the player through the simple controls before leaving them to head online and do battle against other players, or to stay offline and battle with bots.
The controls are easy to get to grips with. The left and right sticks are used for moving and aiming, while the X button and the two shoulder buttons represent all the player needs to unleash mayhem upon their opponents. Getting used to the different items of equipment and the weapons may take a little longer, as there is quite a lot of information thrown at the player during the tutorial as they bounce from one item and its use to another in fairly quick succession. Thankfully, the tutorial is replayable if the player has forgotten anything down the line.
Different Ninjas are available for the player, most of which have to be unlocked through playing the game and earning experience. There are also super abilities to unlock by successfully completing Ninja trials which have the player achieving specific targets in the course of a match. Both of these unlockables are great for encouraging players to come back and keep playing.
Of the different equipment and weapons, players can only hold one of each and will switch between other items by picking them up during the course of the match, either from boxes or fallen opponents. The equipment comes in the form of things like a rocket backpack or Ninja rope, while the weapons on offer include the likes of Shuriken and the Jedi-like Force Grip. It is the use of these weapons and equipment that is slightly different as the player can only get a kill through the use of the environmental hazards.
The levels in the game are made up with multiple platforms and a wide variety of environmental hazards, such as fire pits or lasers. While beating on an opponent is fun, it is only through forcing that opponent into one of these hazards that the player will score a kill, and that is where things get crazy. playing in a match, things move very quickly as players try to get the upperhand, and little Ninjas will be bouncing around all over the place as they try to get the advantage, making it quite difficult to actually work out what is going on. It is quite disorganised mayhem, but a lot of fun.
Atomic Ninjas packs in quite a decent number of different modes for the player to enjoy, including the standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, and the likes of Treasure Hunt or Domination. Play is pretty much limited to online, although offline play is available with bots. The problem is that the bots are really quite skilled, making offline play somewhat frustrating. But still, at least it offers a chance to practice.
Visually, the game is incredibly bright and colourful, with blatant use of neon colours. The different Ninjas are depicted in a cartoon-style fashion, and are quite distinctive, making it a bit easier to spot your own Ninja during the chaos of a match. Despite all of the on-screen chaos and the fast moving nature of the game, I didn’t notice any slow down or graphical glitches, confirming that the game is well polished.
The only real problem that players will come across when playing Atomic Ninjas is the lack of a true offline mode. As the game is online only, a lot is dependent on plenty of other players also playing the game. While I had no problem finding a match, this may well change over time. And the option of playing through a story mode of some sort is something that many players would have appreciated.
Atomic Ninjas is a rather good platform-based brawler that plays with plenty of mayhem while also encouraging players to come back and unlock new stuff. The game looks good and plays well, but the lack of story mode is a real shame. Atomic Ninjas is all about multiplayer fun, so grab it if you have buddies to play against.