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G.G Series: NINJA KARAKURI DEN - DSiWare Review

Game Info

DSiWare | Genterprise / SUZAK | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 200 Nintendo Points
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20th June 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

Extravagant stealth missions are great, but once in a while it's nice to forget about all that and just keep the archetypal hoopla to a minimum. For times when you want to do this and not a whole lot more, the ever-consistent G.G Series can lend a hand. Yes, the next time you want to take a leap without worrying about where you'll land or what you'll do there, it may be worth setting your sights on this inoffensive, quick-and-easy time-waster.

    G.G Series: NINJA KARAKURI DEN stars a blue-suited, red-caped ninja who goes about defeating formidable ninja assassins as if it were his pastime. Though not much is stated in terms of story, it appears that a series of menacing robots have taken over this ninja's modest home. These assassins carry everything from spears, swords, and even beam-firing guns. Set in their ways, these enemies stay right where they have been told to stand (or float as the case may be), so all you need to worry about is making the right approach. You can make your way around by using a mixture of high and low jumps, done by pressing Up or Down when your Ninja's feet make contact with a platform. Each level has an assortment of small platforms that, when stepped on, will fall off the playing field. As the saying goes, "as one door closes, another opens"; or in this case, it's "as one platform disappears, another appears".

    A good ninja is an aerodynamic one, and so as not to be weighed down by the tricks you have up your sleeve, there are only two basic methods of attack. You can execute short-range attacks to deal damage to multiple enemies by using the B Button, or throw ninja stars using the Y Button. This comes in handy for eliminating an enemy that you see (from afar) will present a problem as you get closer to where you need to get. Specifically with the sword attack, if you perform a forward dash using the A Button and take a swing during this delivery, you can double your attack power. In actuality, though, your goal is not to hunt down these robotic (in movement and attack) enemies, but, instead, a series of small gears scattered about in each level. Although they have an obvious relation to the enemies, it isn't their power source, so your reasons for going after these gears is never made clear. But perhaps just in bringing that up I'm revealing that I was looking for more from the experience than I ought to.

At any rate, once all the gears have been cleared, you can make your way over to the shoji door that appears thereafter. Managing all this can be tricky at times, but it's not necessarily an environment that will bring out an intense focus on the part of the player. This is due to their being a number of features in place that prevent the game from ever becoming frustrating. A key one has to do with the lineancy surrounding the exit gate. So long as you destroy all the gears, even if you fall and are to lose a life, that gate will remain open for you to enter into until you get a Game Over.

    After every few stages, you'll come up against a boss who bounces from wall to wall in a bid to prove he's the better ninja. And to make that point even clearer, you'll have to do battle against the same foe multiple times. Once defeated (temporarily or permanently), short cutscenes show the ninja attempting to interact a bit with the player, indicating that there's some sort of journey taking place. But even by the end of the experience, this isn't clearly understood. Once again, it's best just to accept the experience for what it is -- a simple, uncomplicated, and ultimately plain affair. 

    Try as you may to convince yourself that the enemies in this game are no match for the blade of your sword, you can't truly neutralize the forces. All the enemies you clear return to their original positions after a few seconds, which has a subtle effect on how the player feels as they try to make their way to the exit. This means that not only is there no real sense of accomplishment, but your escapes don't feel so daring. If anything, they lean more towards cowardly, since the next ninja that tries to follow in your footsteps has to get by the same line of enemies as you. It's not a major flaw; in fact, you may not even pay much attention to it during your own experience. But it's something to be aware of.

    NINJA KARAKURI DEN consists of 60 stages in total, and it will take you an hour (or slightly less than that) to see it through completely. You've probably already gathered by now that it doesn't take much to get involved, which is why when you do see the game's ending, you won't feel like you made a wrong investment since you didn't have to put much into it. At the same time, this isn't a game that's well-suited to repeat plays due to the fact that the gameplay, while decent, doesn't provide enough fun factor to encourage a desire to return.

    As far as presentation goes, there's really not much to talk about. There's not a whole lot of detail going on in the environments you visit, but what is there works for the simple nature of the game. The music usually goes along nicely with whatever you're doing at the time -- completing a normal stage or facing a boss -- so I didn't have any complaints there either. Like I said, it's fairly simple and it works, so that leaves me with nothing else to say about the matter.

    Admittedly, the amount of fun I had with the game was less than what I could see others deriving from the game, so I'm not going to plant the suggestion that this isn't worth checking out. No, much like other simple DSiWare titles at the $2 price point (Bird & Beans comes to mind almost instantly), you can spend a few minutes without ever having to break a sweat or ever running the risk of disappointment once you recognize that the game doesn't try to be something it's not. In short, G.G Series: NINJA KARAKURI DEN would make a good addition to a person's library, however neglected it may get in the future.

19/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 7/10 - Uncomplicated in its approach and remains a simple action game, decent boss battles, can't truly defeat enemies
Presentation 7/10 - Works for the chosen style, music fits as well as the not-so-deep visuals, short cutscenes but little story to back anything up
Enjoyment 3/5 - Limited fun factor, not very satisfying, frustration kept to minimum, doesn't take much to get into it but also easy to pull yourself out
Extra Content 2/5 - 60 stages that will last you about an hour's worth of playtime, not much reason to go back even for high scores

Equivalent to a score of 63% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

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