Saturday, August 11, 2012

NinjaBoy [2 Ton Studios] - $0.99

Tilt controlled platformers are a bit of a touchy subject, especially for hardcore fans of the platform genre. Fortunately, there are a couple of titles out there that use tilt controls, and do it exceptionally well, building the game around the controls, instead of building a game and throwing in tilt controls because they’re available; Crazy Hedgy, Bounce On and Hoggy are a couple titles that instantly come to mind. Well, now platformer fans can add one more title to that very short list. The brother-duo development team, 2 Ton Studio’s, who’ve, until now, been releasing games for the WP7 (originally though to be one of the iPhone’s most competitive devices, crashing soon after, they released Flying Heads, Akiak, and a title recently brought over to the iOS, NinjaBoy), have finally decided to spread their wings, and attack the AppStore bringing over the quick-level platformer, NinjaBoy.

Now, I will admit that when I first heard of NinjaBoy, I blew it off, and it was because of the controls. More often than not, I absolutely despise tilt controls in platformers, and with so few titles utilizing them and building their game around the controls, it’s pretty easy to say that 95% of tilt-based platformers are going to crash and burn. Fortunately, I’ve got some very pushy gamer friends who would not let up. Finally, I caved. And my iPod is all the better because of it. 

NinjaBoy is the story of a fallen kingdom, and a harsh ruler. Tadeo, the character you’ll be controlling, and his master, Minoru, escaped the land, running to a forgotten temple to train until Tadeo is strong enough to battle Lord Hito and take back the kingdom. 
2 Ton Studio’s has marked NinjaBoy as a puzzle-platformer. And it is, of sorts. Quick thinking and figuring out how to get through the screen-sized levels so that you can collect all 3 stars before hitting the exit can prove to be a bit of a challenge, especially after you make your way through the first set of levels. 

Starting off, you’ll need to go through the Dojo, where you’ll go through 40 levels, learning the basics, and preparing yourself to enter The Kingdom. The Dojo is split up into 3 sections, the Lower, Mid and Upper levels. Each stage has a possible 3 star ranking, though not required to move on, this is where the core challenge is. In each stage, there are 3 stars which you can grab, and an exit. If you touch the exit before you collect all of the stars, the level ends, and you’ll need to replay it if you’re trying to get all 3 of the stars. Some levels also have a locked exit, and a key. In these levels, you’re able to pass through the level’s exit before you have the key, and still be able to carry on, collecting the rest of the objects in the level. 

The levels are designed so that you’ll need to figure out the best way to collect all 3 stars, the key, and reach the exit in the quickest time possible. In the Lower level stages, you’ll learn the game’s basics, but as you move on into the Mid level stages, it starts to get a little more tricky. Here, you’ll start to encounter trip-wires and golems. If you touch the trip-wires, you’ll need to restart the level. Now, since one hazard isn’t really sufficient, you’ll also come across golems. These creatures kill you if you fall into their direct line of sight, so avoiding the front of them is essential for progressing through the stages. In the Upper level stages, it gets a little more tricky. Here, you’re exposed to different trip-wires. In the Mid level stages, the trip-wires were red, and killed you on impact. In the Upper level stages, you’ll come across blue and green trip-wires. Green wires let you fall down through them, while blue wires let you jump up through them. If you happen to go the wrong way through them, you’ll be killed. You are graded on how many stars you collect, the amount of time it takes you, and your efficiency. This is how you earn gold. The higher your grade, the more gold you’ll earn. 

In the shop, you’re able to spend your earned gold on various items and costumes, all with different abilities and stat increases. Different outfits will give you different abilities; The red outfit will let you tap and hold while you’re jumping to slowly float downwards, while the green outfit boosts you back up if you happen to fall past the bottom of a room. Along with 3 other outfits, there are also charms which, when held, can give you a gold boost at the end of every level, and potions, which let you bypass trip-wires and get past golems without being seen. 

With tight controls, playing NinjaBoy on the iPhone/iPod Touch is a blast, and does provide a great challenge. However, even though the game is Universal, there are no other control options, so playing on the iPad can get kind of frustrating. With the constant tilting, your wrists are in for quite a workout. Though I’m not saying that I’d like to see virtual controls, because the game is built around the tilt scheme, I am saying that the game is a lot more comfortable for gameplay on the smaller devices. Priced at $0.99, and containing 80 levels, each with a possible 3 star ranking, there is quite a bit of content to play through. However, there is no GameCenter support, which does take away from the replay value, and the drive to play your best to unlock achievements. Hopefully GameCenter will be added in a future update, because I’d love to battle it out on some leaderboards, and see what extra challenges some achievements could add to the game. 2 Ton Studios has provided a really good tilt controlled platformer with NinjaBoy, and it’s very well developed. I’d love to see them bring more titles over to the iOS in the future, and will definitely be keeping my eyes on them from now on. 


Thanks for the thoughtful, fair and well written review. 2 Ton Studios is just me and my brother, so these kinds of reviews really help.

We definitely have plans to add GameCenter support in the near future. We also hear you on the iPad (although strangely some of our players actually prefer it) -- perhaps we can tweak the controls a bit more there.

Fans can also expect some great new content in the next update -- more details once we have everything final :).

Cheers and thanks again!

2 Ton Studios

Nice! Definitely looking forward to the GameCenter integration! =oD

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