Ninja Attack!

Ninja Attack! – Game Review (iOS)

I was following Ninja Attack! for quite some time since the developer starts teasing about it on Twitter. What caught my attention is the really unusual visuals gameplay elements—I’ve never seen an AR game like that before. So how good this game turned out to be? Well, read my review and find out.

What is Ninja Attack?

Ninja Attack is a fast-paced 360-degrees trippy arcade ninja FPS game that plays in both AR and non-AR.

In this game, you’ll need to use survive and fight waves of fluid abstract enemies called shadows, using  Shuriken (Ninja stars) and power up weapons that you obtain as you play. Tapping on the Shuriken button will release shurikens in very fast speed towards where you aim the camera at

The game features many levels, which you can unlock using coins you collect during the game and from quests. The game features hundreds of in-game quests. At the top right of the screen, there is a flag icon, tapping it will bring you to the quest screen, where you can see the current quest, see the reward, choose to accept it or skip it (using coins). At the top, you can see your progress in percentage, how much is left to finish the quest.

The game has several game modes: Normal, Hard, Insane and it focuses on points and high score. It features 6 different leaderboards for the following:

  • High score (Normal)
  • High score (Hard)
  • High score (Insane)
  • Quests Completed
  • Total kills
  • Weapons thrown

I liked the competitive aspect of the game because, without it, it would be less exciting to play. At least now when I play, I am working towards getting in the top 10 in the ‘Normal’ mode. As of the time of writing, I am ranked #1468.

Gameplay Fun Factor

Ninja Attack game screenshot in AR mode
Do you understand what’s going on on this screen? neither do I.

I am not a big fan of 360-degree AR shooters, they kind of give me dizzy when I play them. However, I’ve played some that were done well and were fun to play, others were just terrible and I just quit playing after a few minutes into the game.

A few of the 360-degree FPS AR games that I’ve played were: AR Space Wars, ghosthuntAR: Survival, Ghost ‘n Guns, You Gun Die AR, and AiR Monster. Two of my favorites were ghosthuntAR and Ghost ‘n Guns.

In Ninja Attack! you have to be very agile and aim fast. You need to balance your shooting so you can eliminate the shadow creatures fast while trying to obtain different power-ups which can help you get more points and coins and new weapons that can help you survive longer during the fight.

Please accept marketing-cookies to watch this video.

What I liked about the game design is that it puts exclamation marks so the player knows where the enemies are located. This improves the gameplay experience in Augmented Reality (AR) mode because it minimizes unnecessary rotations to seek out enemies. You know exactly where the enemy is located at any given time, and if it’s not in front of you, you need to turn to the right side to see it. this works in for AR and standard game mode. So even in standard mode, the game plays in 360-degrees, but instead of turning around like in the AR mode, you have right and left arrows and instead of aiming using the device, you slide the shuriken button from right to left to aim.

Level selection screen in Ninja Attack game
Level unlocking and difficulty screen.

I found the standard controls to be awkward but you get used to them after some time. In my opinion, the game is played so much better in augmented reality compared to the default gameplay mode. One thing I liked about the standard game is that this unique two-tone art style is rendered on the entire screen and there is a nice scene of a Japanese dojo which looks really nice.

Now for the negative aspect of the gameplay. When I play the game, I have no idea what hits me. I can’t see any projectiles, just those liquid-like shadow characters starring at me in the face.  You also don’t get any feedback on the damage when you hit the objects that give you buffs. In the entire game, I was just standing in the same place and turning around like crazy. Although I didn’t get dizzy playing it, the game felt quite monotonous and I’ve got bored playing it after like 20 minutes.

Wave cleared
Wave cleared, great.

Having a large number of quests, difficulty modes and having a different theme for each level wasn’t enough to keep me entertained.  The unique style was attractive at first, but then you just realize that it actually impairs the gameplay experience. I felt like I am just shooting whatever is visible on the screen, with no idea what is a threat and what is not and not knowing if and when I get damage from.

So what first caught my attention, which is the interesting visuals, turned out to be not such a good idea after all.  The two-tone visuals with emboss look made everything look fuzzy. The developer used this design for the entire UI, including the icons and the text—making readability difficult and very annoying. Some of the icons for the power-ups are very hard to recognize. I didn’t have an idea what some of those were when I played. I found what it was later after watching the gameplay video that I’ve previously recorded.

Enemy character in Ninja Attack game
An enemy character in Ninja Attack.

I also didn’t like the sound effects. When you shoot the shurikens they make like a perpetual “swoosh” effect which gets really annoying after a short time.  It feels like a machine gun that shoots non-stop. The reason for this is that in this game you are encouraged to tap and hold the button continuously so you can release those shurikens non-stop. There is no penalty for this and the ammo is not depleted, so I found myself just holding the button for the whole time. This becomes even more important at higher difficulties. Of course, you can let go and not hear the sound, but because of the fire-rate and the difficulty, I found myself not wanting to let go, thus I suffered from the repeating sound.

Conclusion

Ninja Attack! is a fast-paced FPS game which can appeal to those competitive players among you who love fast-paced shooters. It’s a hybrid game that can play in augmented reality and in standard mode.

I found the unique art-style to be quite attractive, but it distracted me from the gameplay experience and has a very negative effect on readability and UI interactions. I found myself just tapping buttons to see what they do, unlike “normal” apps where you can clearly see the icons and quickly understanding what each one does.

I did enjoy the fast-paced shooting experience, but without clear visual feedback of what hit me and the damage that I make to the enemy, the shooting felt senseless and unexciting. Even the power-ups all felt the same. The funny thing is that I didn’t even felt like I was shooting with a different weapon, I found it only after watching the gameplay itself.

I do appreciate that the developer took a different approach to AR game design. However, there are negative implications, which if not handled in the right way, can lessen the gameplay and app user experience.

Having said all that, I did like the quest system, the unique two-tone color changes for each level, the difficulty, and the expansive leaderboard.

Overall, I felt that the game is a miss. I like the idea of playing a ninja, I like the unique art-style and I love fast-paced shooters, but as a whole, the usability issues that I’ve mentioned annoyed me and overall the gameplay wasn’t impactful and exciting as I imagined it would be. Still, if you love fast-paced shooters, the game is free, so give it a go, you might like it better than I did.

Download Ninja Attack! for iOS free from the App Store here.