Published by Marvelous Europe, Ninja or Die: Shadow of the Sun is a roguelite with a gimmick. From a 2D side scrolling perspective, the player controls a ninja that can only jump; there is no option to walk, run, or manually attack. While the springboard hopping is unique, there are times when simple traversal can get tedious.
The angle of the jump is aimed with the analog stick and jumping happens instantly with a single button tap, sort of like playing a side scrolling golf game. Holding the button can warm up a super jump which carries more attack power and speed. Jumping into enemies causes damage and it is possible to wall jump. Bouncing from surface to surface, auto slicing enemies along the way, can be satisfying with practice. While this might sound easy enough, the difficulty is rather high thanks to ridiculous flourishes.
Visually, the art style is impressively striking. In fact, the presentation is so stylish, it can be distracting once the action starts, making it difficult to distinguish what is happening. The flourishes look cool, no question, but it can be overwhelming at times. Don’t be surprised if you are taking damage because you lost track of your location on screen.
Spicing up gameplay, some stages introduce auto-scrolling which can be tremendously difficult to stay in frame with the speedy camera. Items can also be collected and used, like health restoring consumables, range attacks, and equippable stat boosters. Inventory management can be a little cumbersome since space in limited, items are accessible using the shoulder buttons, but it can be a bit much to juggle when trying not to die due to the speed of gameplay.
This is a rogue title, so death takes you back to the beginning, losing just about all your collectables with each restart. Sometimes though, game over can be frustrating because of the occasional blind jumps, demanding wall hops during auto-scrolling segments, and just losing track of positioning due to the speed of action. However, there are optional side objectives to complete, villagers to rescue, and unlockable characters available. Fans of rogue titles have plenty to sink their teeth into if players can grasp the speedy jumping mechanic.
Ninja or Die deserves applause for having the guts to implement such a unique gameplay gimmick but constantly hopping, even if you just want to move slightly to the side, can get tedious and frustrating. The same goes for the visuals. They are absolutely gorgeous but gets disorienting when put into the action. At this least this rogue title tries something new, which probably can’t be said for the half dozen other rogue titles also released this week.
Not As Demanding As: Jump King
Also Play: Dead or School
Don’t Forget About: Assault Gunners HD Edition
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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