This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Ninjala, a basically free action game released by Gungho Online Entertainment for Nintendo Switch on June 25. Even before its release, the game's "Splatoon-inspired" character design became a hot topic of conversation, and it has now been downloaded more than three million times worldwide.
In this 3D action game, players control a ninja and use a variety of weapons and "gum" actions to traverse the stages. There are two game modes implemented: the Battle Royale style game mode in which up to eight players fight each other, and the 4 vs 4 Team Battle. In this article, we'll bring you our impressions of the Battle Royale format.
Innovative ninja + gum action game
The winner of Ninjala is the player with the most points within the time limit. You can score points by destroying installed drones and defeating opposing players.。
Since it's ninja action, your character can move around the map quite freely, not only dashing, but also running on walls and jumping two steps.
A unique feature of this game is the use of "gum" to fight. Players go into battle with a variety of weapons called 'gum weapons'. There are three types of gum weapons: katanas, hammers, and yo-yos, each of which comes with four types of weapons, for a total of 12 weapons. Each weapon has different status corrections and available abilities, so it's important to choose the right weapon for you.
The Gum Weapons can be upgraded to powerful "big weapons" by using the "Shinobi Energy" obtained by destroying drones. Defeating opponents with your big weapon will increase the score you receive, and you'll also be able to use abilities that can only be used with your big weapon.
There are a variety of actions that can be performed with gum. For example, you can inflate the gum to guard against enemy attacks, the "Gum Shoot" that derives from the guard and sends the inflated gum flying as a flying tool to restrain the hit opponent (the restrained state is called "Gum Bind"), and the "Shinobi Dash" can be used by using the aforementioned Shinobi Energy when the gum is inflated in mid-air.
The powerful "Gum Ninjutsu" that is unique to the weapon, which is used by building up the Ninjutsu Gauge, and the "Gum Transformation Trick" that mimics objects in the vicinity, these innovative actions that combine the power of gum and ninjutsu are a joy to behold.
A slight accent of this title is the "Sousai" system. It's a rock-paper-scissors-like reading that happens when your opponent and your attack collide. You knock the stick up and down and sideways to make a decision, and if you win, you'll get a chance to land a powerful blow. Sousai is also risky, but can be denied if you perform an evasive action.
It is also possible to use S-Energy to perform an action called "S-Burst" when your opponent is attacking you to bring them into Sousai. One action that can beat this S-Burst and normal guards is the "Break Attack"; a successful Break Attack against an S-Burst can destroy a Gum Weapon, and if you break the guard, you can make your opponent Gum Bind.
Sousai is judged by each player tipping their sticks up and down and sideways. Normal Attack, Back Attack, and Wide Attack are performed by each input. Normal Attack defeats Wide Attack, Wide Attack defeats Back Attack, and Back Attack defeats Normal Attack.
Also, if you defeat an opponent in Gum Bind or an enemy with Gum Ninjutsu or Sousai, it will be an "IPPON". This is a factor to aim for, not only because of the special effects, but also because it will give you a higher score than a normal K.O.
The design of the characters in this game is one of its charms. There are plenty of avatars to choose from, and you can customize them to your liking. Costumes and emotions can be obtained as battle rewards, and can also be purchased in the paid-for shop. The game also includes a Battle Pass that is updated every two months, and you can receive rewards for completing quests in both the paid and free passes.
Expect future updates in terms of balance
Then, the first thing I found when I actually played this game is that the controls and rules are simpler than I expected. To attack, simply press the ZR button near an enemy to homing, and pressing the R-stick will lock on to a nearby enemy. Combo's can also be connected with a series of ZR button hits, and most actions such as ninjutsu can be performed with a single button, so even beginners can quickly get used to the "basic" controls. The game's objective is also easy to understand, even for beginners, as the only thing you have to do is "destroy the drone" and "defeat the enemy".
Also, the controls feel good and I was able to play the game with no stress as the characters move just as I wanted them to. You can run around on a map with a unique worldview, and it's exhilarating to just move your character around in the beginning.
In terms of battle, there is a lot of depth to the readings around Sousai, and the split-second decisions on when to use Break Attacks and when to use S-Bursts are all part of the fun of this title.
However, there are parts of the game that I felt were lacking in the tutorial, especially the system around Sousai and the menu screen, which I felt could have used a little more explanation.
Because of the great benefit of making it a big weapon in the fight and the fact that you can get victory points just by destroying drones, there are many opportunities for combat to be interesting, as battles occur over drones from the beginning of the game.
However, in the current patch, the drone destruction scores are so high that it is possible to get to the top of the game simply by running away from the enemy and destroying drones, and fighting the enemy is also effective in the so-called "fish in troubled waters" strategy. We're looking forward to future updates as well.
In terms of updates, there were some balance adjustments recently, such as the gum weapons that were more powerful than the others, the yo-yo-type Ninja Yo-Yo and Sinobi Spinner being nerfed (weakened) respectively, and the gum ninja Ninja Tornado being buffed (enhanced). The patch notes also explain the reasons for the buffs and nerfs in detail, showing the game's user-friendly attitude.
In general, Ninjala has a unique world and game system that I feel is a "diamond in the rough" game. It hasn't been released for a long time yet, so some rough edges are noticeable, but it has the potential to become something more than just a game, depending on future updates.
The game is also available in a package version on Wednesday, July 22, which includes in-game currency and limited items. The game is basically free, but if you're interested in the game, you should check it out as well.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.