Thursday, May 3

Review: Save the Ninja Clan [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Ever since Super Meat Boy and a generation of tough-as-nails action platformers hit the scene there’s been a renaissance of sorts going on. Where the likes of Mario and his ilk offer a more classic and lower-stress experience these are generally designed to punish and test limits. Of course, finding a flow and a balance to things, making the levels both tough and tight, hard and fair, is the real challenge in doing it well. Coming to the Switch on the heels of some outstanding examples of the genre Save the Ninja Clan aspires to greatness on a budget but isn’t quite as lethal and exacting as it would like to be.

You’ll be taking control of one of 3 different ninja, each with their own abilities that you’ll eventually be expected to roughly master at some point along the line. In each level you’ll need to evade death, take out enemies, and generally work your ass off if you want to additionally grab the bonus yin yang symbol while you’re at it. Much like Meatboy and some other games in this style you’ll need to execute from start to finish and then once you’re finally through you’ll get to bask in a replay of your many attempts before success as they play out simultaneously. Throw in some unusual planned “glitches” you’ll find in the game and I’ll at least give it credit for trying to do some small things to make it more competitive.

For the most part that summary and a quick look gets to the heart of the matter, the question is how silky smooth does it feel while you’re busy kicking ass and taking names? Unfortunately I’d call the controls a bit on the loose side. They’re really close, and most of the time you will have only yourself to blame, but some of the execution for things like precision wall jumping can feel inconsistent at times and that’s a bummer because it usually means you’ll die and have to start over. There are also going to be super-cheap and lame deaths like those from enemies that kill you even though you’re approaching from behind and other fun. None of it is a total killer but with the competition already on the console the comparisons really do matter.

What it comes down to is that Save The Ninja Clan is a budget version of those bigger and more refined games you’ll tend to hear about. It’s not as polished, the characters aren’t as cute or cool, and the controls aren’t as spot-on tight. That said it is likely less than half the price of almost anything else in the category so it may not be a bad deal. If you like a challenge and have a few bucks to blow it’s at least entertaining in bursts.

Score: 6

  • Some variety in level designs
  • “Glitched” levels in some places are a nice touch to break things up
  • A budget price

  • Generally a bit barren and lacking in detail
  • Control doesn’t always feel as precise and spot-on as you’d ideally have in this sort of title
  • The competition in this genre space is fierce and even with its lower prices the gap in overall quality is substantial