Tuesday, October 5, 2010

App O' The Mornin': Urban Ninja Review

Urban Ninja is a mixed bag. It offers some good platforming action, but includes a few niggling design flaws that diminish the effect.

The titular ninja is a pudgy little man in black, hopping from rooftop to rooftop on his way to grab a rope dangling from a helicopter. This is his exit point, but it’s not his only goal. Along the way he has to collect enough stars to make his exit, while avoiding various hazards and pitfalls.

When the ninja is on a flat surface, he can walk left or right. From any location, he can also leap with a simple touch-and-drag control. This allows him to jump over threats or onto nearby roofs, as well as grab onto walls and low-hanging objects. If he makes too many jumps, however, he’ll expend all his energy before he reaches the end of a level.

With these simple controls, the ninja can reach stars in out-of-the-way places, which is the whole point. The problem is with too many levels that have inconsistent design rules. Sometimes, you need to drop off the bottom of a screen to reach a place that hides essential stars, while other times dropping off the bottom of a screen simply results in death. There’s no clear distinction between the two situations.

Urban Ninja also doesn’t make the most of the situations it creates. There are some fine touches, like a bubble that allows you to float to higher levels; but just as many places where more could have been done. This is particularly clear with the rather random selection of monsters and threats, which don’t really add anything interesting except obstacles to be avoided. They’re just kind of there.

Across its 40 levels, Urban Ninja offers some diverting platforming action. For 99 cents, it’s passable buy. There are some good elements here, but also a few places where it just could have been better.


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