At first blush 1-bit Ninja looks like another iPhone game knock-off, but spend ten seconds with the game and you'll dismiss that notion. Spend a minute with it and you'll be ready to toss your phone at the wall... and then pick it up and keep playing.
1-bit Ninja is a sort of mash-up of Super Mario Bros. and Paper Mario with a dash of Canabalt and Game + Watch thrown in for good measure. The game has you running from left to right through a world of hovering "bits" (small and big), enemies that can be dispatched by jumping on them and brick landscapes.
Yes, that sounds very much like Super Mario Bros. But the game has some interesting twists. Most noticeable is the game's art style, which are informed by old Game + Watch and Gameboy titles. That means 1-bit animated sprites and tiles with a touch of blended colour and shading. Touch the screen and drag and suddenly, temporarily, the game becomes 3D, allowing you to see a bit further down the road so to speak, but also find some neat hidden paths and secret areas created by overlapping illusions.
That game's controls also seem pretty straight forward: Touching one corner of the phone makes the Ninja move from left to right on the screen. Touching the other corner has him jump. While you can stop moving, you can't backtrack. This doesn't sound like a big deal until you start playing the platformer. This inability to back track, and the count down timer at the top of the screen, turns every level into a speed run of sorts.
While you can try to play through the game with a set number of lives, you're also able to play with infinite lives, something that takes the pressure off a bit and cuts down on any urge you might have to smash your phone after the 32 time you die because you miss a jump or moved forward just a hair too much.
1-bit Ninja is set to hit iTunes Thursday, June 22 for $2.49. I highly recommend picking it up, (It requires iOS 3.1 or later) I've only spent a day or two with it and it's already becoming one of my favourite games on the iPhone.
1-bit Ninja [Kode80]