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March 4, 2004
I-Ninja - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
10/2/2004SonyArgonaut Games1G8+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
377KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesNoSmallYes

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Slowing the descent.
Argonaut have always been a company which I have admired. Although they have been around since the Commodore 64 days it was their legendary Starfox on Super Nintendo using the ultra powerful Super FX chip to create 3D graphics and polygons that first grabbed worldwide headlines. You may laugh at the game now, but at the time it was revolutionary. Since then Argonaut have released several impressive titles which, while never up there with the “must have” titles have always proven to be tremendous fun. One of these games includes Vivendi's recently released SWAT: Global Strike Team on PS2.

So what's this game about then. He might be small, but he’s one angry Ninja! Despite his size, I-Ninja is the consummate warrior who has spent years mastering his weapons and honing his skills. Challenged by the world’s most wicked villain, Master O-Dor and his menacing army of Ranx, I-Ninja is graceful in honor and deadly in combat. With extreme agility he traverses unknown environments and conquers all that is evil. There is no challenge too big or risk too great for I-Ninja!

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Just hanging around.
The game starts with I-Ninja accidentally comically killing his master, or sensei. It's not all bad however as he becomes a mentor through the game. Playing I-Ninja is quite a joy. The controls are responsive with some nice features such as using a grappling hook to swing yourself around a curve at speed, or running and jumping up the walls. In fact one of the moves, running along walls, is almost identical to that found in UbiSoft's recent Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Combat in the game (with the sword) is swift with bonus points for dispatching several enemies in quick succession. The game is structured in your typicall hub format with new locations becoming unlocked as you earn new belts for your ninja.

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One of the Marble Madness areas.
While the game is predominanty a platform title one of the more impressive aspects is the numerous mini-games and gameplay styles. One of the best is having to move a large ball (Which I-Ninja has attached himself to) through a variety of mazes, very much in a similar vein to the classic Marble Madness game, or Sega's recent Super Monkey Ball on Gamecube. I-Ninja also includes several stealth sections where you must avoid being seen by the enemies. While not brilliantly implemented these are fairly fun while they last.

While there is few technical problems with this game, there are some basics that could have been altered prior to release to elevate the gameplay from good, to great. The main problem is that the game just lacks that magic spark. There are plenty of nice ideas, the engine is solid enough, and there are enough styles of gameply, but it just lacks that something special. The AI of enemies also seems a little cheap. "See the ninja, head straight for him and start swinging" seems to be the order of the day.

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Visuals are nice, if a little rough.
Graphically, Argonaut have done a reasonable job with this game. It is never stunning, but I-Ninja has a clean, fresh quality that suits the style of game quite well. Don't expect brilliant animation or texturing, but the game is fairly fast in spots with a steady frame rate. What deserves a special mention, however, is the wonderful character design. I love the look of I-Ninja, while the enemies look even better. Another great inclusion which I wasn't expecting in this title is support for Widescreen TV's, something which is becoming a necessity with Widescreen TV's today.

Sound is yet another area of I-Ninja which is solid, but never brilliant. The music merely adequate while the speech is quite well done, with plenty of humour littered about the game. In fact, the hero of the game is voiced by none other then Billy West who will be familair to fans of Futurama (as the voice of Fry, Doctor Zoidberg and Professor Farnsworth). The sound is rounded off with Dolby Pro Logic II support.

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Taking on some enemies.
I-Ninja is solid game, but one that adds little to the platform genre, it's all been seen before. Still, in an odd way I-Ninja still manges to impress, mainly due to the fact that it very much reminded me of the old Sonic games as you speed through some sections of the levels, but also had some Marball Madness syled action. Overall, a game that doesn't come up to the high standards set by others like Jak II: Renegade or Ratchet & Clank 2, but having said that this is a much more child-firendly title that will keep the young ones happy for quite some time. A solid, if not entirely polished, game.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSGraphics are clean, but certainly up to the best on Playstation 2.
SOUNDFairly good music and speech, but once again it's just above average.
GAMEPLAYProbably more fun for the younger among use, some small niggles.
VALUEA game worthy of attention, but there is much better available.
OVERALLI-Ninja is a game that fails to live up to expectations. Certainly a sequel could create a buzz but I feel that this game is missing that something special and will get lost in the crowded platform market.

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