Review: Ninjatown (DS)

by Cory Birdsong on


Tower defense games have an interesting history. After being born as mods for Blizzard’s RTS games, the genre spread to the Flash game circuit, where it was again iterated on incessantly. Between the two, it seems like almost every gameplay permutation possible had already been devised and experimented with. Recently, dedicated commercial tower defense games have started to appear; Ninjatown is one of them.

Ninjatown the brand is apparently a spinoff of a thing called Shawnimals, which are amusing cute-ified designs of everyday non-ninja objects. Let’s face it – at this point, ninjas are Interneté passé. Nerds on forums have picked the ninja corpse funny bone clean. (I’m hoping this fate does not befall hoboes, which are my current favorite amusing group of historical individuals.)

injatown, though, seems to be quite aware of the Internet ninja cliche, and it goes out of its way to lampoon it. Behold, the Ninja Consultant. His skill with charts and graphs will make your troops just that much more efficient.

owever, unlike its art style, Ninjatown can’t quite pretty up the gameplay enough to make it stand totally above and beyond the myriad of other takes on the genre all over the Internet. Though it is derivative and it brings nothing truly innovative to the table, it’s an excellent execution of the concept and, most importantly, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

injatown is a corridor-based TD game – none of this free-form, place your towers wherever you want insanity. Bad guys (in this case, demons who want to steal the secret ninja cookie recipe) walk down a path, and you have to stop them from getting to the end. Standard stuff.

am probably not the most skilled TD player around, but I have played a fair amount of them, and Ninjatown is hard. You’ll start to be challenged after only a few levels, and it quickly gets even more challenging, but in a fun way. The fact that the game is separated into levels, unlike the traditional marathon structure, means that the difficulty never feels unfair, and the short levels encourage experimentation with different strategies, which will be required. The game isn’t too cruel to players new to the genre, however; a friend who had never touched a TD game and was able to catch on without too much frustration.

here are a few twists to the gameplay. The old man ninja, seen lurking to your right, gains a number of stylus and microphone based special powers which can be used directly by the player to great effect in the right situation. The maps can also contain various twists on the formula that generally enrich the experience with a bit of variety.

Ninjatown’s greatest strength is its premise. The art is buoyed by appropriately hilarious writing and plot developments, which is augmented by its fun-but-pedestrian gameplay. The tower defense genre fits well on a handheld, and I hope to see more of them on the DS, but it will be hard for one to top the charming premise present in Ninjatown.

[![]/mrface4.jpg "Mr. Face say this game GOOD. Mr. Face never wrong!")

*Mr. Face say this game GOOD.

Mr. Face never wrong!*