Thursday, April 18, 2024

Ninjala failed to inspire me into becoming a ninja

I guess some aspects of my age aren’t exactly up to par because I can be reeled in by bright colors and flashing lights. That’s why I stopped on Ninjala while browsing the Nintendo Switch e-store two days ago. Oh, and Ninjala is free to download? Well, let me click that button right away! What I found is a new game from GUNGHOONLINE that dropped on 24 June 2020 without much recognition, and a title that’s currently plagued by server issues if you’re trying to connect online. Although the game has already amassed over 2,000,000 downloads, I don’t have faith that those numbers will get much higher in coming months. Here’s the problem.

While it’s true that Ninjala is free to download, you have to purchase chapters in story-mode if you wish to do anything more than battle in online arenas. The goal, I assume, is to build a loyal fan-base that will come back as repeat offenders whenever a new story is revealed. I haven’t completed Chapter One, which sees alien ninjas abducting children, and I’m not sure if I’d be down for purchasing Chapter Two in the future. Ninjala looks and feels like it exists in the world of Splatoon, but it’s not nearly as difficult and it’s ultimately too repetitive.

It’s hard to lose or be beaten by another part of the World Ninja Association. Honestly, no matter if you’re playing against real gaymers around the world or going through the first chapter, you can succeed just by pushing the same button over and over again. Try closing your eyes and hitting R1 over and over again. See what I mean? Ninjala is a video game about competitors and heroes who use special gum to bring out latent ninja DNA in order to fight villains and gain special powers like flight, stealth and transformation. To see those abilities whittled down is kind of depressing.

While battle game-play is relatively easy, the customization of your avatar and in-game stores are quite difficult to figure out. How do you do things? Why do the red markers next to my weapons refuse to disappear? How do I turn in in-game currency and rewards earned in battle? These are important key features that shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out on your own. A game can’t be kid friendly, colorful and hypnotizing with an interesting general plot while also being too simple and yet too confusing at the same time. Am I just too dense at the ripe age of 32?

I want to like this game, I really do. However, I don’t know if I’ll continue booting up after completing the first chapter. A major overhaul would help this game, with fixes to the combat controls and main menu functionality being the key features to hone in on. It looks so fun and refreshing, but looks can be deceiving. Ninjala takes all the deep-rooted charisma out of being a ninja and boils it down to a mildly entertaining hack-and-slash game with not enough capitalization on its greatest draw – the ninja gum.

Michael Therkelsen

[He/Him] Michael was born and raised at the Jersey Shore and he loves love horror films, video games, hiking and cooking. He auditioned for American Idol in season 6 and worked as a vet tech before finally discovering his passion for writing. He has several short stories available for purchase on e-readers, and is obsessed with UFC, American Ninja Warrior and running half-marathons. With a wide area of interests and hobbies, he's excited to help other people in the LGBT community discovery the world of gaming.