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Cake Ninja 2 - DSiWare Review

Game Info
Cake Ninja 2

DSiWare | Cypronia | 1-2 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
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29th November 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

It's one thing to size up potential threats for protective measures, but let's get real: What are the chances of you actually having to deal with an onslaught of baked goods? Most ninjas I know train with targets that aren't edible...but then again, fruit is the apparent material of choice nowadays. Tell you what... The next time a bakery owner decides to use pastries, cookies, and gingerbread men as weapons against a direct competitor, I'll be sure to give this guy a call. Until then, I can't help but find Cake Ninja 2's concept a bit of a joke, reserved for the vault of uninspired plots behind low-budget kids movies; and not just because it's a clear copy of Fruit Ninja. I mean, the whole idea of building a game around striking consumable products is a bit scraping the bottom of the idea barrel to me. But for some inexplicable reason, Halfbrick Studios has been able to make it work, thus prompting Cypronia to question, "Hey! If they can do it, what's to stop us from doing something similar?" Put another way, if this were a classroom, they'd be the student in need of a solid performance on the next test, thinking that if they sit beside the most studious person in the class, their good habits will rub off on them. Sorry, guys. It doesn't quite work like that.

    Cake Ninja 2's training regimen is divided into four categories, identified under the names Combo, 222, Survival and Classic. Each exercise theoretically hones in on a particular skill necessary for an apprentice assassin like yourself, but whoever came up with this program doesn't seem to be a very benevolent person, as there's hardly any evidence to suggest a desire to share years of knowledge and invest in your long-term well-being. Guess that's where the self-confidence comes in... Before proceeding to take out the assortment of desserts that get thrown your way, you'll notice a couple things about the game's presentation. First, while deciding on an option to select from the Main Menu, an animated movie introduces the main character to the player and establishes a couple ground rules about what the game is about -- as if you didn't already know. Moving past this area, the cake-slicing fiend reveals a slightly more charming side to his otherwise bland personality by means of announcements made at the beginning of each session (pronouncing "three" as "fwee") and whenever items are activated by the player. But this is quickly forgotten as you get acquainted with the completely uninteresting make-up of the game itself.

The first game mode, Combo, tasks you with using a single swipe of the stylus to nullify two or three cakes in one go, with the game demanding more from you as you progress. Cakes and other desserts come from the bottom of the screen to simulate the idea of being tossed upwards, getting pulled down by gravity upon reaching their apex on the upper screen. Really, this is the setup seen across the board. It's a good thing Cake Ninja has no interest in juggling because his tosses are somewhat unreliable. Sometimes the cakes will be closer together, but at other times they can come from either ends of the screen, making it tricky when you have to get four or five in one shot. In general, players may have to assume awkward positions with their wrists to get 'em all in one line, which I see as a limitation in the framing of the experience and the sizes of the elements; but it is a manageable one. I guess the idea here is to start with the most skill-oriented task so that everything else will seem like a cakewalk.

    Next is 222, which is basically a speed test over accuracy. In this mode, rather than having desserts come from the bottom, they come in from the sides. The top screen displays a particular type of dessert that you have to focus on, with the hit counter progressively decreasing until you reach 0. Naturally, slicing desserts that you're not asked to will add to it. Also unlike the preceding mode, you're allowed to keep the stylus held down and simply move it continuously around the screen to accomplish your task. This, in company with its brief nature, makes 222 the least painful to play out of everything in this package.

    With that said, now's a good time as any to address the core issues with this game, and the best way to do so is by bringing up the remaining two modes: Survival and Classic. I've grouped them together, not only because of their similarities, but because they best illustrate a major flaw. The shared purpose of these modes is to slice cakes, with no further restraints applied other than not letting ten pass you untouched (in the case of the former). And truth be told, there's no skill involved in what amounts to rubbing the nib of your stylus against the Touch Screen repetitiously, as if you were scribbling on a sheet of paper. I'm not going to deny that there is a combo system present as well as a fair share of items, and from the team's perspective it is probably viewed as evidence that there's some depth to the experience. But that's simply not true; none of these features dignify a game that is honestly of really meager means, through and through.

The controls work as they should, so the problem isn't that the game is outright broken. The already-skeptical response to the overall idea made worse by the fact that it gets increasingly more and more repetitive, providing just the environment to see the game for what it really is. I honestly don't even think there are good ingredients that would've made for a strong creation with more development. To be frank, looking at how much time you've spent slicing cakes doesn't fill you with pride or satisfaction; it's absolutely depressing.

    I think what really bothers me most, though, is that the developers have used a marketing ploy (disguised as online leaderboards) to tactlessly try and cover over the game's dismal state and the even more offensive asking price. Not only that it's been used, but this contest has become a guiding focus of the entire package, with further embarrassment to be seen in their suggestion that Cake Ninja's goal, as the hero, is to place at the top of all four leaderboards present in the game. As tempting as the prizes may sound, the fact that they've programmed the game to have this as a dominant aim demonstrates that they were counting on people to buy-in under these pretenses. This is completely a case of artificially trying to add dubious weight to something shabby.

    About as worthless as the game itself is a list of achievements that will unlock new backgrounds when one gets checked off. There's also a multiplayer mode for two people who each possess a copy of the game, but I can't imagine this game being called to mind at all in the interest of a lively, two-player face-off, not to mention the chances that two people in the same neighbourhood would actually own this game at all are virtually non-existent.

    You may think I'm severely against the game's premise and didn't bother to give it time, to which I'd have to respond with "I'm not" and "I did," and I have just about an hour of playtime to prove it. (Yes, this is the part where you can shed a tear on my behalf.) It's laughable to see that the game is in dire need of substance, life, and charm, but also that it fails miserably in trying to amass support for an unoriginal idea. Even if you were to overlook that this is a rip-off of a successful property, the transparent impositions of the monitored leaderboard system, as well as the sour, repetitive and skill-averse gameplay serve enough of a strong deterrent without even taking into account a price tag that simply cannot be sympathized with.

11/30 - Very Poor

Gameplay 3/10 - Not broken mechanically but the foundation is incredibly weak, combos and items fail at trying to provide depth
Presentation 5/10 - Doesn't look too bad but not great either, audio could be better, what little charm it initially has quickly fades away
Enjoyment 1/5 - Really, really repetitive, gameplay can continue perpetually but will depress players, scribbling on the Touch Screen isn't satisfying at all
Extra Content 2/5 - Worthless achievements, multiplayer modes available but no one will actually play them, offensive asking price

Equivalent to a score of 37% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Cake Ninja 2
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