Nestled between Mount Feroshi and the Dark Forest, the Ninjas of Ninjatown live their secret lives, making their delicious Ninja Star-Shaped Cookies while enjoying a cup of green tea at the bistro, training in the dojo, harvesting the special ingredients needed for those secret cookies. They are accountants, bakers, defenders and protectors. But something has stirred in the Dark Forest, and his name is Mr. Demon. Leading the Wee Devils to invade the unsuspecting people of Ninjatown, he is armed with Dark Syrup and after only one thing: to acquire the Ninja’s secret cookie recipe and take over Shawnimaland.

Ninjatown comes to life with the use of very vibrant colours and cute little animations as the Ninjas fight and flip their way to victory. The huts are all very similar with colour determining which Ninjas are housed within, and there are several other power-up buildings that accompany your Ninja huts, basic yet extremely effective. Backgrounds are decently textured for a DS title who’s focus it definitely on gameplay, yet they are not sacrificing graphics for game.

Ninjatown offers building spaces laid out on each map where you place your Ninja huts and other buildings. From each of the huts, you can upgrade your Ninjas (once you have collected enough cookies to do so), tell them which enemies to target, to rest if their health is low, and even remove the hut if it is no longer needed. Using the DS microphone, you have access to Old Master Ninja’s Skills; some of these skills are blowing into the mic to push back enemies, yelling into it to give your Ninjas a speed boost, stopping time briefly with the hourglass in order to pause play and upgrade or build new huts. You can tap on each Ninja to check their health or just watch them do backflips if you’d like.

There is not a lot of variety in the music for this game, basically one track for the map screen and another for the game play itself. Each wave of enemies is sounded by a gong, and you get a few different attack noises from your Ninjas and their enemies.

Fun Factor:
If you enjoy action strategy games and love to be challenged, then you need to play this game. Not only does it offer great game play, but there is a wonderful humour entwined with the storyline. Quick thinking and planning ahead for each new wave of enemies will help you clear the levels with higher grades.

Replay Value:
One thing that I love about Ninjatown is that I can go back to levels that I cleared with low scores and attempt to better my score. If I got a D grade or passed on Easy Mode, the game will let me try again and again until I achieve the mark I am looking for. Ninjatown also delivers some multiplayer action with a play-off system. Battle against another Ol’ Master Ninja in defending your respective Ninjatowns from waves of Wee Devils and Associates. The first player to defeat all the enemies is the winner. Winners will collect character tokens and losers will unlock Forbidden Techniques.

Overall Opinion:
This is a wonderful game, a great addition to any DS collection. The only issue that I ran into was a sudden jump in difficulty as I progressed into the final maps. This could prove to be a little challenging for younger players who tend to get frustrated easily, but if nothing else it will really make you think as you refine your strategy with each attempt.

(Reviewed for GamingAngels – Mar 16, 2009)

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