27th Sep2018

Digital Shorts: ‘Ninjin: Clash of Carrots’ Review (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Ninjin: Clash Of Carrots – another new retro-themed indie game.

ninjin-header

Ninjin: Clash Of Carrots plays out as a cross between a side-scrolling beat ‘em-up and an endless runner game, all wrapped up in “on-trend” retro pixel-art graphics. Set in a fantasy continent inspired by Feudal Japan, Ninjin sees you play as the titular Ninjin, a charismatic bunny; or Akai, a ninja fox, to recover your village’s stolen carrots from the claws of the evil Shogun Moe. Gather carrots by taking down a variety of enemies and bosses – then use those carrots to purchase new weapons, masks and other customisation items.

Ninjin plays out very much like a port of a mobile game, a good port of a good mobile game but still, it never really feels like it was made to be played on anything other than touchscreens – which is frustrating because I’m sure as a touchscreen game this would be a cracking endless beat ‘em-up. That’s not to say that the PS4 version of Ninjin: Clash Of Carrots is a bad game, or an unplayable one. In fact I had a lot of fun battling my way through the game and levelling up my character (essential if you want to get through further levels without hassles – the difficulty level ramps up come the latter stages) but I’m unsure how often I’d go back and play the game – which is actually probably better played on the go, via mobile, Nintendo Switch or other handheld. It’s very much a time-filling pick-up-and-play title rather than something you’ll invest a solid amount of time playing in one sitting.

Graphically Ninjin: Clash Of Carrots follows the current trend of pixel-led imagery, with 8-bit-esque graphics. I say that because Ninjin’s graphics may look 8-bit to those unaware but they are instead something akin to a 16-bit console emulating an 8-bit console with today’s upscaling technology. It’s a strange choice, but one that, given how pixel/8-bit graphics are not the norm in indie game production, is definitely following a trend rather than trying to make one. And that’s the thing about the game overall – it feels very much like a been there, done that sort of title; even the melding of an endless runner with beat ‘em-up tropes does little to make this one stand out from the crowd.

However, and here’s the dichotomy. No matter how much I could criticise the game, still had a LOT of fun playing Ninjin: Clash Of Carrots for this review. It’s weird. I’d like to think that my issues stem from the fact that this is the kind of game more suitable for small screens of the Nintendo Switch or the PSVita rather than a 40+ inch TV in the living room. Or maybe its because the game is just fun. Sheer fun. The type of simple fun that appeals to the nostalgic gamer in me. There’s no overly complicated story, no complex tactics to learn, or button combos to memorise. This is a throwback to the button mashing days of the hack/slash beat ‘em-up and it’s probably all the better for it.

Ninjin: Clash Of Carrots is out now.

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