“Ehh, what’s up doc?”
Mixing a beat’em up but with a twist of an endless runner, Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is easy-going, mindless fun especially in co-op mode.
In classic brawlers like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, or the TMNT games, the players walk from left to right and punch everything that moves. Ninjin is essentially the same thing only the player is constantly moving forward like an endless runner. The difference here is that each stage will eventually end by either defeating all the enemies or seeing game over by running out of health.
Playing as a ninja rabbit, the ultimate goal is to retrieve your stolen horde of carrots – essentially the plot of Donkey Kong Country 1 only swap bananas with carrots. The gimmick behind this button masher is a wealth of unlockable weapons and balance found in the stamina system. Reminding me a lot of Castle Crashers, the player will eventually be exposed to many ridiculous weapons, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some weapons might be short but attack quickly whereas the more powerful weapons yield more attack strength but carry a high cost against the stamina meter. Unfortunately, inventory management becomes cumbersome as more and more weapons and items are unlocked. Defeated enemies will drop carrots. Carrots are used to buy new weapons, items, and cosmetic costume pieces. If you want to collect them all, players will need to grind. To be clear, there are no RPG leveling mechanics. The player only gains access to different, often not better, equipment. This feels like a miss opportunity.
The pacing does a good job of introducing new enemies to the player often, keeping the gameplay from growing stale. Mini-bosses and level ending bosses accompany common baddies that attack in a number of different ways like exploding on contact, stabbing with spears, or even holding shields. Like any good brawler, there is always something to attack. Combat is elevated by also incorporating ranged attacks through use of the second analog stick. So if you have the stamina for it, the player can opt to play this game like a twin-stick shooter, which is unique unto itself. Eventually screen-clearing elemental limit breaks become unlocked which also adds flavor to combat.
Although the entire campaign can be played solo, the best way to defeat these anthropomorphic carrot stealers is with a buddy by your side. Thankfully, online play is supported along with local co-op. The only bad news is, not a whole of people are playing online. In the one online partner I found, gameplay was lag free and just way more fun to play. More importantly, co-op makes the quest easier to swallow. The problem is, the later levels prove rather challenging when playing solo. Although not exactly unfair, solo players will need to be on the top of their game by the time they reach the third world. Having a fellow bunny on your side makes the experience more tolerable and entertaining.
The plot is ridiculous, sure, but the entire game is built with humor in mind. At no point does this game take itself seriously and this can easily be seen within the dialog between characters. Not only do characters provide humorous dialog, they speak in Animal Crossing-like animalese mumbling accompanied by word bubbles that shake to demonstrate emphasis. The world is built using bright colors too, making the experience more casual from beginning to end. My only other issue come from the absence of basic housekeeping options: there is no option to turn off rumble (and this game will be constantly shaking your controller) and there is no controller map screen to explain the controls. Also, the ability to dash is cool but having this as the only form of defense seems limiting. I feel like there should have been a block button and this makes it apparent in the later, more difficult stages.
While not perfect, players can do a lot worse when it comes to a humorous, action game. Playing co-op with a friend can provide some mindless fun (it is a shame more randoms are not playing online) if you can look past the flaws in difficulty spikes and inventory management.
Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is also available on PS4, Steam, and Switch for $14.99.
Also Try: Jetpack Joyride
Not To Be Confused With: Clash of Clans
Wait For It: Streets of Rage 4