[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”Side Kick” publishers=”SQUARE ENIX” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”June 29, 2012″]
One of the great things about Xbox Live Arcade is that we get spin-off games from the much larger retail variety. These spin-offs typically are bite sized chunks of goodness that bring a smaller side story and experimental gameplay. Alan Wake has American Nightmare, Fable has Fable Adventures, and now Mini Ninjas has Mini Ninjas Adventures.
The original game was developed by IO Interactive and released in 2009 as a family friendly action title. Publisher Square Enix decided to pass the ball to developer Side Kick LTD for the Kinect only Xbox Live Arcade spin-off. Mini Ninjas Adventures sees the return of the ninja Hiro, one of the playable characters in Mini Ninjas. Hiro is on a mission to rescue his friends and master from a Samurai Warlord gone evil. Mini Ninjas Adventures showcases how to actually design gameplay for Kinect to be fun, which leaves setting and graphics to be the only thing it derives from big brother Mini Ninjas.
Mini Ninjas Adventures is a typical gesture based game where the player is sitting on the front row and interacting with objects further back with gestures. Moving side to side will move Hiro the same but there is no forward and backward movement. Hiro has 3 weapons at his disposal. The weapons are used to attack based on which row the enemy is on. The sword attacks with the player slicing with his hand side to side and affects the row closest to the player. The bow and arrow has the player holding one hand out and pulling back from it like a bow string with the other and attacks the furthest row back. The ninja stars has the player making a throwing motion from the chest very much like how you would throw a ninja star and attacks the row between the first and last. There is also a kick move that allows you to knock enemies back from the first row to the back row. Switching between weapons is a rather simple procedure of reaching over your shoulder as if grabbing for a different weapon. The system is very intuitive and has some of the best responsiveness to gestures seen on Kinect.
Weapons aren’t the only tool Hiro has to try and save his friends. He can also cast magic that has different effects depending on the gesture used. If you yell Ninja after filling the appropriate meter, any ninja friends you saved will drop down and attack the enemies. Once an enemy is destroyed they puff into animals to stay kid friendly and drop experience, health, magic, and other power ups on the row that the player is on. Once the player gains enough experience to level up, they gain points to place into various attributes to strengthen Hiro.
Each stage of the game sends waves of enemies at you with different strengths and weaknesses. For example, a samurai with a shield will need to be handled differently than a plain jane samurai or one holding an exploding barrel. Each world consists of 21 stages and ends with a boss fight. The boss fights are where Adventures really shines if you love the old school style of patterned bosses. With only three worlds, Mini Ninjas turns out to be a short game. For a Kinect XBLA title, 21 levels is not all bad.
Mini Ninjas Adventures is part of a string of Kinect XBLA releases that are really showcasing how to develop a Kinect title with responsive controls and fun gameplay. When games are developed from the ground up for Kinect, they tend to be a lot better than their shoehorned Kinect counterparts. We can only hope that this arcade game might lead to a fully fleshed out retail game with more features.