Ninja Shodown Review
Rising Star Games and Bitmap Bureau bring a dose of dabbing ninjas to the multiplayer fighting genre with their release of Ninja Shodown. Should you take up arms in your search for the Jade Katana, or are these ninjas all washed up?
Ninja Shodown Review
Ninja Shodown is first and foremost about the combat. Players take control of a member of the Viper Clan, choosing their color and name before entering the battlefield. From there, it’s a free for all that awards victory to the last man standing. To accomplish this, your ninja of choice has a sword, a limited amount of shurikens, a dodge, and the ability to pick up a wide variety of weaponry (and more shurikens) from rapidly spawning crates. Though they might not be ninja-like, players can grab shotguns, grenade launchers, mines, and plenty more.
The game makes sure you’re on edge at all times – simply brushing up against an enemy character means death, and with more than eight enemies on the screen at any given time, the odds are often against you. It can get pretty frustrating when a poorly timed dodge or randomly spawning enemy takes you down, which can often feel unfair. However, the game has an addictive quality to it that begs you to try again just one more time, if only to see if you can get a little farther the next go around.
However, taking down your foes in quick succession is a thrilling feeling, and it builds up a combo meter. There is also a ranking system in its arcade mode, one that rewards extra lives for “S” rankings. The heavy platforming and loose controls are an acquired taste, one that admittedly won’t sit well with everyone. However, those that take the time to master the game will feel nigh unstoppable as they blast through foes.
The aforementioned arcade mode is nothing to write home about. There are brief animated cutscenes a la Ninja Gaiden that guide you along to locales like temples, dojos, and museums, but the bulk of the game will have you thrashing hordes of mooks that run from one side of the screen to the other. Some require a different strategy to defeat, but they don’t have a single brain among them. Still, it provides quite a challenge, and its steep difficulty curve will have people either rage quit or try their hand once more. With support for up to four players, however, it’s best to bring a friend or three to even the odds. There is also an Infinite mode that has you taking on endless waves of baddies.
It’s just a shame that for a game that supports such a multiplayer experience that it does not offer online play. If anything, the versus mode feels pretty bare bones. You can choose from game modes like “Last Ninja,” “Battle,” “Coin,” and “Crown,” and can even choose the layout of each level, but the settings pale in comparison to something like Nintendo’s offerings in Super Smash Bros. This game has tremendous potential, and it feels like the most basic setup was done here.
Ninja Shodown is not the most original title around, but it provides raw competitive thrills that will have you begging for one more round. The bare bones package is a tough sell for $15, but those willing to suit up may find their next multiplayer addiction here.