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 NDS Game Review: Ninjatown 
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Lite Four
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The Good:
> Easy to learn gameplay; learning curve is not steep
> Fast paced action that, for most part of the game, is spaced out in short battles for quick portable gaming
> Difficulty increases gradually, save for the occasional mission
> Adorable and endearing graphics and characters, with a humorous script. Which you can also choose to skip if you do not like dialogue in your games, and want to skip directly to the action

The Bad:
> Some maps require a fair bit of trial and error before you get the right mix to clear the mission
> Later missions might become a little lengthy, though epic

Think of Ninjas and typically the mental image of a sword-slashing, shuriken-tossing character dressed in black and shrouded in mystery arises. In fact, ninjas are anything but cute. Or are they?

Ninjatown is a game for the Nintendo DS based on Shawnimals' cute and cuddly ninjas. It is a tower defence strategy game with cutesy graphics and addictive gameplay, and, overall, a great NDS title.

The game follows the story of Ol' Master Ninja, who has to come up with strategies with the help of his ever useful Ninja Consultant to thwart the plans of Mr. Demon, who wants to steal the recipe behind the ninjas' famous cookies. It's a simple story, but it's enough to move the game along. You can skip the story scenes entirely by pressing Start, but since the story is sprinkled with humour, you might want to read it through to get a few laughs.

Gameplay comprises of 36 missions, spread out over 9 areas. In each mission, after a short cut-scene, you will enter a map of which you have a bird's eye view. Each map has one or more paths crossing through it, and spaces beside the paths. Enemies will spawn on the paths from the edge of the map in waves, and your job is to construct defences in the spaces adjacent to the paths to prevent the waves of enemies from passing through the map. Defences come in the form on ninja huts, which house up to two ninjas each. There are two kinds - melee and ranged. Melee ninjas are much stronger on offence but are unable to deal with flying enemies, for which ranged ninjas are required. Defeating enemies earn you ninja cookies, which is the currency in the game. You can then use the extra cookies to upgrade your ninjas, or to create even more ninja huts.

It's a simple concept, but it works. Where the game really scores is in its variety of missions and defences alike. You start off with defending single, straightforward paths, but later in the game you will be presented with maps with multiple paths and branching paths. Add to that the wide variety of enemy types with different strengths and weaknesses, and you would have to consider your strategies carefully in order to survive the mission.

Thankfully, there are numerous weapons in your arsenal to deal with different situations and threats. Your ninjas also have their own strengths and weaknesses. Black ninjas, or Wee Ninjas, are your standard troopers, dealing average damage and moving and attacking at average speed. To deal with harder-hitting enemies, such as the rotund Chubby Devils, you can choose to employ the orange Anti-Ninjas, who hit for high damage, but are slow moving and therefore unable to keep up with faster enemies. Aside from building ninja huts, you can also construct modifier buildings which gives useful boosts to adjacent ninja huts, such as the Guard Tower which increases the effective range of nearby ninja huts. You can also make use of "items", which you can obtain after each successful mission. For instance, place a baby ninja on the map and nearby enemies will be slowed down by its sheer cuteness. Last but not least, kill enough enemies, and you can gather enough Ol' Master Ninja powers, which is depicted by a gauge on the top left of the screen. Ol' Master Ninja powers are powerful, and they include abilities such as a giant magnifying glass to fry enemies with focused sunlight. All in all, the features all contribute to the strategy level of the game.

The difficulty is just right for the game in my opinion. You do get perfect games now and then, but quite often you will leak a few enemies past your defences, and the more you leak, the worse the grade you obtain for the mission. Missions are graded A to D based on how your defences have held up. You might clear the mission by obtaining a D, but trust me you will want to replay these missions to try to get an A. Once in a while you will come across missions that take multiple tries to even get a D grade, and less patient players might get frustrated at the trial-and-error approach of trying to get your defences good enough, but it's immensely satisfying when you do complete these missions. So there's something for the perfectionist who wants to excel in each mission, but at the same time, if you are content to get a D in each mission and streak through the game, that's fine too.

In terms of portability, the game is decent enough for gaming on the go. A quick mission for a break in between lessons? No problem... initially. The missions typically last for about 10 to 20 waves of enemies each, which spells out to slightly longer than 10 minutes for each mission. However, the latter missions are longer, and the final, epic, mission can easily take up to half an hour.

The game's graphics are cutesy and cartoonish, as mentioned earlier, but it works, so no complaints there for me. As for the music, it is decent enough for you to not want to turn the volume off, but there aren't really any memorable tunes that you would want to listen to again and again.

All in all, Ninjatown is a highly addictive game with a strong personality, with memorable characters that are just too adorable, and gameplay that is easy to pick up by anyone.

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Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:46 pm
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Ace Trainer
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I really hope this doesn't count as Necromancy, but the "Review" part interested me...

Anyway, until now, I've never heard of the game, but then again, most good DS and Wii games are buried under the swarm of the bad titles from third-parties that don't even put effort into making the game at least half acceptable. The title made me think this was going to be an epic and notable review (for the lulz) but surprisingly, from this review this game sounds pretty good, and while I wouldn't show it off to my friends, I might just play by myself. If I have money to waste, I will consider wasting it on this game...if it's in stores still...and no one's watching.

A last note though, sN0wBall, is that there is a problem with this review (not for me personally, but for pretty much everyone), which is that people would have to read this topic, which is actually good for people to do every once in a while. People are usually expecting some numerical value when they read a review, but that doesn't really matter to me, numbers make the words seem meaningless. Still, for those who don't bother with reading reviews (which I would imagine is this topic's temporary demise) what would the numerical value be? Also as a tip, a list of Pro's and Con's helps the ignorant get an idea for the game, you don't have to though, maybe let's make the readers of this topic, oh I don't know, actually read?

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Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:00 am
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Lite Four
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Location: Singapore
Good idea; I've added a list of good and bad points about the game.

I didn't give a numerical score to the review, however, since I feel that any value I give would be somewhat arbitrary, especially since this is my first review. I think it might be better for people to just read and glean off details from the review instead of looking at the score to summarise the game.

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Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:02 pm
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Ace Trainer
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Well your addition of Pro's and Con's was a good one, and keeping the numerical score out would also be a good decision, for you at least.

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Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:57 am
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I think pictures would be nice. You talked about how the characters/world is cute. After reading that, people would be curious how it looks (I know I was), and it'd be nice to see pictures portraying what you've already said. Although it isn't necessary, it'd be nice.

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Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:08 pm
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