Ninjamurai Preview

Irish based Open Emotion Studios are back with a new title destined for the PS3/PSP Mini’s market. Ninjamurai puts you in control of a young ninja/Samurai known as Ninjamurai, as he tries to outrun a number of evil forces.

The artwork is subtle, simple yet gives the impression of being carefully crafted. After seeing the artists at work at their studio in Innovation Works, it is evident that a lot of care and detail is being put into the work. Some recent titles to hit XBLA and, when it was active, PSN have shown that simple graphics can suit the game. This is certainly the case in Ninjamurai.

The gameplay is fluid and thankfully the controls are responsive. When the character is running at full tilt across dangerous, and sometimes collapsing, terrain the last thing needed is an input delay. Players of games such as N+ or Super Meat Boy will have to make a minor adjustment as there is no wall jumping up a single wall. As a player of such games, that was one of the first things I tried to do. Thankfully, there is usually an easier way to travel across and up a level. Learn from my mistakes!

Ninjamurai is set to cater for a variety of gamers. Rather than putting together a formula and hoping that all playstyles are catered for, Open Emotion Studios have implemented a few different features which should fit the bill. There are two stances: one is a running stance with slow attacks, while the other is a combat stance with less overall speed but quick and deadly attacks. This enables players to battle tooth and nail, or stealth their way through a level.

In addition, it is possible to unlock five outfits. Again, these can cater for or adapt the way in which a player plays. For example, one has less health points for Ninjamurai, but enables the player to inflict more pain.

The level designer is clearly fond of the classic “pit-of-death”. While this keeps the player on their toes, it can also make it quite nerve wracking when told to wall slide down. It doesn’t make it any more reassuring when that comment is from an Open Emotion staffer, I can tell you! However, the team has seen difficulties that players have faced and are actively working to rectify this issue. It is one of the few things that slows progress down, but if sorted will have players blasting through at a mile a minute.

The pit-of-death is a classic element that designers were fond of in the past: Remember Mario? That is not the only classic touch that a player will see. Certain gameplay elements and level features are a well implemented homage to old school games. A certain age group of gamers will feel that surge of nostalgia down the spine. Unfortunately, I have come to the realisation that I fit that age bill! Worse things could happen though; it allows me to appreciate these references.

Ninjamurai is designed to have people play again and again. A number of playmodes are on offer. These include a hardcore mode designed to test Ninjamurai skills, speed runs and a survival mode. Each is a unique take on the game and challenges the player to get better and better. In a novel touch, Open Emotion Studios has implemented in-game achievements.

Ninjamurai is shaping up to be an exciting Mini release from a home grown development studio. The aimed release date is in May 2011, but the studio is keeping tight lipped on an exact date at this point in time.

IndieGameMag - IGM