This artwork by Shawnimals toy line creator Shawn Smith adorned one full wall at the PR office where I went to check out Southpeak’s upcoming Ninjatown strategy title for DS. The game’s based off of Smith’s cute little ninja characters and quirky designs, and it’s slated for an October release.
I got a chance to give it a try, and I had a hard time putting it down.
Ninjatown, the home of “Old Master Ninja”, “Consultant Ninja”, “Anti-Ninja” and yeah, a ninja that looks like a turd, among others, suffers a mysterious volcanic eruption, and now little red demons are marching on the town.
To defend it, you play top-down style on a plot of land, with a smaller mini-map in the top screen showing you where your forces are laid out and where the enemy’s coming from. Basically, you pick a plot of land and decide what type of ninja hut to place down there.
There are two kinds of melee ninjas and three types of ranged ninjas, each with different strengths and weaknesses, and you strategise – y’know, ’cause it’s a strategy game – who to put where based on what direction the little demons are marching in from, seen on your map. Once placed, the ninjas will attack on their own once the demons come in range, and your objective is to keep the devils from following their path all the way off of the screen into the town.
Each time the ninjas defeat an invader, you get points that can be used to buy more huts and plant more defenders. You can also upgrade your existing huts, increasing the strength of the ninjas fighting there. My first strategy of putting a lot of huts all over the place without upgrading the ones I had didn’t work very well, as you can probably imagine – stronger ninjas equals a better front line.
One cool feature is that Old Master Ninja accompanies you – defeating demons also accumulates his power, and in the demo I played he could do two different types of attacks when I’d saved up enough. Tapping the picture of Old Master Ninja’s staff let me choose between attacking physically and blowing some enemies back. With the physical “Hickory Lunge” attack, you touch as many enemies as you can within the time limit to have Old Master Ninja hit them all. With the blow-away attack, you choose a wind direction with the D-pad and blow into the microphone to push the advancing demons back away from your overwhelmed front lines.
Strategy titles tend not to be my favourite sort of game, personally, but I was surprised at how engaged I got with Ninjatown. The cute art style and the simple gameplay made it a lot more accessible than what one might normally think of in real-time strategy.