kalmis's Ninja Bros (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

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Ninja's are cool, right?

Chances are that if you have played a lot of video-games you have played Ninja Bros before. Or at least it will feel like so. This simple XBLA indie puzzle/platformer was released in 2009 and can be purchased for mere 80MS points.

Ninja Bros as the name implies consist of several ninjas controllable ninjas, four to be exact. One ninja for each of controllers face button (red, green, blue and yellow). The movement controls are synchronized. Meaning if you have blue and yellow ninja on the screen and move left both yellow and blue ninja will move left. Only distinguished control is the jump button which is mapped to matching face button. Red ninja jumping from red button and so on. 

Idea behind game is very simple. One needs to guide each ninja to it's own colored door. Before entering, the door needs to be opened by a trigger. Interesting thing is that the door triggers are placed on other ninja's stages. Each ninja is contained to its own smaller section which again colored after the ninja. The stage's can overlap other colors, but the walls/platforms are not impacted by the other colored walls/platforms. 

Game has 3 different difficulty levels which having each several stages. Unfortunately there is no mid level saves. Making player to start difficulty level from the beginning each time. Fourth nightmare difficulty is unlocked after Hard difficulty stages are completed. XBLA Indie games have no achievements but a set of similar achievements exist in-game. A highscore list also adds further depth for the competitive ones.

Graphics are simple pixelated 8-bit style with only handful of different colors. Basically: black and white and of course the four ninja (face button) colors. Level design is very simple with platforms with few obstacles such as moving platforms or spikes and flying shurikens. Presentation is very primitive, could be from a Atari 2600 even. Audio is minimal as well with couple of catchy oriental tracks. 

From hard difficulty level on, the game turns really difficult. Luckily there is no death penalty and the action resumes instantly. The only complaint with Ninja Bros I have is the controls. For such a accurate platform action one would have expect bit more tighter controls. One example here is a jumping which can become most frustrating. For instance, it is not possible to jump to ledge above from stand still. Might seem like minor thing but the jump being a key factor one would have expected more accurate control overall.

As mentioned price tag is only at 80MS points. There is hours of challenging game-play. Even with the the primitive looking presentation. The synchronized controls have been around for a long time. Very interesting to see this idea carried out full. For most parts it works really well and the button coordination feels like a proper challenge.     

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