iPhone App Video Review: Ninjammin Beat-Jitsu

by Andrew Koziara

Ninjammin Beat-Jitsu is a very different looking game released by YoYo Games, from yoyogames.com. They are the creators of Game Maker, a very intuitive and simplified tool for, well, making games!

In fact it was my very first foray into game development, and if you’re interested but have no idea where to start, a few basic game maker games will give you a small taste of what it’s like to make video games. Then you can jump into crazy stuff like Unity and UDK. Anyway, this game was made in Game Maker, and it’s rather unique. It sports a great art style and good music, but is a bit lacking in the game play department.

The nonsensical premise is that it’s the future, and everyone is required to be happy by law. Some… stuff happens and your character Bob… I mean, 808, learns the ancient art of beat-jitsu from his estranged ancestor. This whole thing is told through the ancestor’s narration and god awful annoying voice. Like, seriously you guys, you will hate this guy’s voice more than you all hate mine… especially when he starts rapping. Anyway, you go off to save the city from… things.

The game play looks like a platformer at first glance, but it’s really a quasi-rhythm game, like Dance Dance Revolution. Your character will automatically run through a level, and when he reaches an arrow, you have to be holding the corresponding arrow button to jump or wall run or whatever. Some arrows can be missed, letting you take alternate paths, while others result in death. Some arrows can be blatantly disobeyed. If the ring surrounding them flashes the color of a different arrow, you can hit that arrow for yet more alternate paths. There are also non-vital arrows that act as pickups to add to your score. Every now and again you’ll run into an enemy, and you have to hit the arrows that pop up on the screen to defeat them. These battles are all super easy and just get annoying after a while. Each level has three hidden stars which unlock challenge mode games when collected. Good luck finding them and surviving.

This game really needs some polishing in the game play. You almost never get ample warning for each arrow, and it leads to tons of deaths. I don’t really mind trial and error games, but we are way past that here, and it is insanely frustrating. You really should be given more chances to survive. Why not make it three failed arrows before you die? Also, even though the music itself is good, it often fails to sync up with your movements and attacks and it’s really noticeable. This is a really great idea, but the execution needs some work. I love the art style though. It reminds me of those old feudal Japan paintings, only if they were painted today and with graffiti. The UI is very well done too. There are OpenFeint leader boards and achievements, and plenty of features, but it’s all for nothing if the game is too frustrating to play. The only reason I’m not dying so much in this video is all the practice I received. Still, it’s good and cheap at only one dollar, and I like to support innovation. Check this one out at your own risk.

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