Mini Ninjas

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Mini Ninjas
Minininjas.jpg
European cover art
Developer(s) IO Interactive
Magic Pockets (Nintendo DS)
Robosoft Technologies (Mac OS X)
Publisher(s) Eidos Interactive
Warner Bros. Interactive[1]
Feral Interactive[2] (Mac OS X)
Distributor(s) Square Enix
Valve Corporation
Designer(s) Jeremy Petreman
Henrik Hansen
Composer(s) Peter Svarre
Engine Glacier
Platform(s)
Release date(s) Windows, Nintendo DS, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360
  • NA September 8, 2009[4]
  • EU September 11, 2009[4]
OS X
WW 20100708July 8, 2010
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Optical disc, digital distribution, cloud computing

Mini Ninjas is a 2009 action-adventure video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360.[5] A Mac OS X version of the game was released on July 8, 2010, by Feral Interactive.[2] In December 2011, it was announced that the game will be also made available as a browser game for Google Chrome.[6]

A Kinect/Xbox Live Arcade spin-off game Mini Ninjas Adventures followed in 2012.

Another Mini Ninjas spin-off game (an endless runner) has been released for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets in March 2013.

Gameplay[edit]

Wii gameplay screenshot featuring Hiro

The game is a linear, action-adventure game viewed from a third-person view perspective. It is featuring six playable characters - each with their own unique abilities, weapons and skills that can be switched between at any moment once they have been rescued. Special weapons and equipment to collect and use include caltrops, shuriken, different bombs and fishing rods, and a multifunctional ninja hat, as well as a variety of potions and food items. Magic can be used by the main protagonist Hiro, his spells, including fireball and lighting attacks, camouflage and time manipulation. Only Hiro can possess spirits, such as animals, for a short amount of time. Hiro can use his Ki energy for the Kuji arts, which replenishes from collect enemies' Ki or drinking potions.

The Mini Ninjas have to defeat many samurais in the game. They can be samurai swordsmen, samurai archers, samurai spearmen, samurai clubmen, samurai captains, hatted samurais, and monks. After each defeat, the samurais turn back into animals. They can be white rabbits, frogs, cranes, foxes, Arctic foxes, raccoons, chickens, brown bears, panda bears, warthogs, monkeys (might have been apes), and cats. Some of the animals have moves which are useful against enemies. Brown bears can use their claws, warthogs can use their charge move, and panda bears can stomp the ground with their bottoms. But all animals have a keen sense of smell for spotting ingredients and collectables in places that are easily overlooked, and enemies will have a hard time spotting Hiro.

Throughout their journey, they can collect coins and ingredients, such as mushrooms, flowers, and ginseng roots. They can exchange the coins for weapons (bombs, shurikens, caltrops (which are actually makibishis), etc) and recipes from Tengu in the world. The ninjas can receive quests and advices from other Tengu. Hiro has a ninja hat which can be used as a shield against arrows or as a boat. There are altars scattered throughout the world which the player can use to save their progress. Fruits found on trees or bushes can be harvested by shaking the bushes or the trunk of trees, which will restore their health. Other foods like sushi does the same thing.

Scattered throughout the world are ancient shrines, which each contains a scroll. Each scroll contains a spell in the Kuji arts. Hidden near each shrine is an anemone which is used to activate the shrines. Only Hiro can active the shrines and use the Kuji Spells.

There are also various ingredients and 100 hidden Jizo statues scattered through the game, that can be collected for special achievements or trophies, which encourages level exploration. The game contains no graphic violence, as defeating an enemy only sets an animal free from an evil spell.[7]

Backstory[edit]

Long ago, after the Evil Samurai Warlord was banished the first time, an era of peace and tranquility descended upon the empire for more than 300 years. The dark castles he had built were abandoned and slowly fell into ruin and the villagers across the countryside no longer lived in fear. As the years went by, the secret of the powerful Kuji magic was hidden away in ancient shrines, and the people of the villages and towns went back to their daily lives.

Then one day, something changed. Terrible storms began to brew over the mountain on the distant horizon. Floods and earthquakes began to appear in the flatlands. At Ninja Mountain, The Ninja Master could see that something was terribly wrong in the world. Mysterious figures were seen hunting and caging animals for unknown reasons. The truth was that the Evil Samurai Warlord had returned, using the forbidden Kuji magic to transform innocent animals into mindless samurai warriors to use to recapture his dark castles and take over the world. But, by using the Kuji magic for evil purposes, the Evil Samurai Warlord was once again upsetting the balance of nature, bring the wrath of the gods down upon the earth in the form of ravaging storms. The larger his armies grew, the worse the storms became.

The Ninja Master knew none of this yet... though he knew that something must be done and made it his unbreakable oath. He sent his best ninja to discover the truth of the storms, but no word returned from the ninja. One by one, he sent another, but again and again... nothing. Until he was left with only two, Hiro and Futo. The Ninja Master was hesitant to send his last two, but he knew the fate of the world would lie in their hands.

Plot[edit]

Hiro is given the task to complete his training and to travel down the mountain to the old castle. After completing his training, he goes and finds Futo who follows him on his journey. On their way down the mountain, they find and defeat some enemies. When they reached the Village of the Brown Bear at the foot of the mountain, a group of enemies is seen on the other side of the river shooting fire arrows. Hiro and Futo defeat them and continue on their journey to the old castle.

On their journey through Jadestone Forest, the ninjas defeated their enemies and freed the animals. They find and rescue Suzume. As they reached the Earth Castle perimeter walls, they find a note saying about how Shun will sneak into the castle. Defeating the enemies at the gates to the castle's town, Hiro scales the walls to the inside grounds. The ninjas came across a giant club-wielding samurai, who Futo defeats, and turns out to be a bear. Hiro defeats more samurais and a giant as he makes his way through the town and into the castle.

Waiting at the entrance in the castle is the Earth Castle's boss, Lumbering Fool. Through quick time events, Hiro defeats the boss. When the boss is defeated, the castle starts to rumble and shake. As Hiro escapes the castle, a large purple beam is seen shooting up to the sky. Then a cutscene is shown. A samurai captain brings news of the Earth Castle to the Evil Samurai Warlord. He is angry that the ninjas defeated the boss and creates a new boss that will be waiting for them later on their journey.

Leaving the area, they come across a note from Kunoichi saying that Shun is captured and that she will follow them. They made their way through the Three Falls Canyon and the Great Central River. About halfway down the river, Hiro finds a note from Suzume about a shrine.

It is nighttime when they reached the banks of the river. A cutscene is shown that Shun is captured and sent into the Moonstone Caves. Making their way through the cave, they find and rescue Shun near the top of the cave.

The ninjas left the cave and fought their way to the Village of the Great Carp. They made their way across the Dry Foot Bridges where they fight their first Evil Monk. They defeat the monk and the other enemies in the Rabbit Hole Forest. In the village, they help fight the samurais. Past the village, the bridge to the right is broken so the Mini Ninjas have to travel through the Haunted Forest on the left path.

In the Haunted Forest is the Lost Souls' Graveyard. At the entrance to the Lost Souls' Graveyard, the ninjas find a note from Kunoichi saying that ghosts aren't affect by weapons. They have to sneak their way through the graveyard while uncovering its secret. Be careful or else they will suck the life out of you! In the graveyard is an ancient shrine which contains a Sunrays scroll. (Note: You need it in order to proceed with the game.)

On the other end of the graveyard is the Night Castle. Near the castle is a note from Suzume of a secret tunnel in a rotten tree stump. (It is an optional path for collecting ingredients and a Jizo statue. Also leads to a dead end.) They made their way into the castle walls, through the Night Castle town (either fighting or sneaking), to the castle itself. In the castle, Hiro comes face-to-face with Windy Pants, the boss of the castle. With an easy victory, Hiro defeats Windy Pants. He exploded with a smelly smoke. Back at the Warlord's castle, a different samurai captain brings news of Windy Pants defeat. The Evil Samurai Warlord got even more angry with the ninjas so he created another boss for the ninjas to face.

The Mini Ninjas made their way through the Waving Grass River to the Valley of The Waving Grass. The enemies are seen burning the grass to trap the animals. Tora can be seen captured in the distance. After rescuing him, the ninjas continue their journey through the toll road.

It is daybreak when they reach the valley to the White Swallow Village. When they reach the village, it was flooded when the Evil Samurai Warlord was released, who brought along the storms. The ninjas cross the valley, past the village, to the Water Castle.

The inside of the castle walls are flooded with enemies, which the Mini Ninjas defeat. They face a new group of enemies, the Hatted Samurais. After defeating the enemies, the ninjas make their way into the castle and face a new boss, Timid Swimmer. He is an unique boss. Hiro, not only have to defeat the boss, but also the samurais around him.

With another boss defeated, a third samurai captain breaks yet another news of the Water Castle boss defeat. The Evil Samurai Warlord's anger is reaching its peak and creates a fourth boss who the Mini Ninjas have to face.

It is a misty day when the ninjas reach Tokugawa Village. A note from Kunoichi tells news of several carts of captured animals are moved to the Snow Castle. The ninjas travel through the Old Pine Forest. Be careful because enemies will drop down from the trees! At the end of the forest, the ninjas can find the last missing ninja, Kunoichi, trapped by the enemies. The ninjas fight their way through the enemies to Kunoichi. After rescuing her, they head to the Snow Castle.

They fight enemies as they make their way through the snow covered mountains. They passed through Mountain Pass and Happy Monkey Hotsprings. They battle ghosts in the maze-like Forgotten Caves. After treading through several inches of snow, the ninjas finally made it to the Snow Castle. They fought many enemies in the castle town. The player will find a note from Suzume that a different type of samurai can be found there. He can open a portal directly to the Evil Warlord's castle for reinforcements.

The boss in the Snow Castle is different than the previous ones. This boss, Screeching Owl, is a giant owl that screeches and the fighting arena is on the roof of the castle. Hiro has to climb on the owl while he's flying and stab him with his katana. Hiro defeats the boss and watches as he plummets down into the snowing abyss. A strong gust of wind is seen blowing from where the boss disappeared. The boss is dead. The Evil Samurai Warlord senses that the ninjas defeated the Snow Castle boss. He talks to himself, saying that by defeating the bosses, he becomes weak. But, no. As he makes fire from Kuji magic, his voice changes.

The gust of wind caused a huge avalanche. The player has to maneuver Hiro has he whooshes past trees, rocks, and enemies. At the bottom of the mountain, the ninjas see an empty enemy camp. A Tengu tells them that the camp was full of samurais until a few hours ago. Then all of them retreated back to their castle.

The ninjas travel through the Silent Wood. At note at the entrance, from Suzume, says that the Evil Samurai Warlord's castle is at the volcano. Similar to the Old Pine Forest, samurais will fall down from the trees. The ninjas fought through the enemies, making their way to the old castle.

At the Ashida's Doorstep, a cutscene shows a rock from the volcano destroying the bridge so Hiro uses the ninja hat to slide his way over the ravine. The ninjas fight their way in the lower entrance of the castle, going up to the Fortress of Ashida. The fortress is built on top of the volcano so the structure is crumbling from rocks through by it. The ninjas fight the last of their enemies in the castle town before making their way into the Living Castle. Scaling and maneuvering through the crumbling interior, they fight the enemies that are trapped in there.

Finally, after walking up a long flight of stairs, the Mini Ninjas meet their ultimate enemy, the Evil Samurai Warlord. Alternating between meteor storm spell and the flask of strong ginseng, Hiro quickly withered the Warlord's health. When he is defeated, the grounds on which the Evil Samurai Warlord levitate on, begins to crumble. Then a large purple beam shoots up, engulfing him.

Epilogue[edit]

And so the Evil Samurai Warlord was defeated by the young ninjas, and the magic which held together all of his remaining armies was finally broken. At that very moment, all across the land his remaining samurai armies were released from the twisted spell. Thanks to the ninja Hiro and his friends, the animals could finally return to the forest and live in peace. The Ninja Master, looking down from the mountain where his ninjas once lived and trained, could see that the wrath of the gods had finally been quenched... The storms on the the distant horizon which had threatened all the land began to move away, and it appeared to him that the balance of nature had been restored. On the dark mountain where the evil fortress of doom once sat, Hiro and his friends - their quest now complete - set off across the land once more. There would be much more to learn, now that so many of the lost secrets of the Kuji arts had been rediscovered. It would be many weeks until they returned to the safe confines of their village home, and new adventures likely awaited them along the way... But that journey is another story, for another day.

But what of the Evil Samurai Warlord? He had been defeated, it was true. His great animated fortress had crumbled when the Warlord was no longer able to maintain his magic spell... And he had plummeted through the falling ruins and fire to the earth below. One would have thought that this would be the end of him, but... as so often happens with evil samurai warlords... A great crevice had opened up beneath his falling form... and in the end, he disappeared into its depths -- swallowed up by the darkness within...

Characters[edit]

Playable Characters[edit]

  • Hiro is the youngest of all Mini Ninjas, whose talents with Kuji magic are second only to the Evil Warlord. Hiro was found as an infant by the Ninja Master and might become the greatest ninja ever. He is available from the start of the game and is the only player character that can use the various magic spells. His main weapon is a katana (samurai sword) and his special move is a lock-on-attack that stops time and automatically attacks the enemies that have been selected.
  • Futo is the second ninja in the game and is found on the first level. He is the largest of the ninjas and Hiro's best friend. He carries a large wooden hammer and boasts great strength, being the only Mini Ninja who can take on the huge "Clubby" enemies, but is also the slowest one. His special move is to roll into a ball and attack. He is the only ninja who wears a mask which covers his eyes.
  • Suzume is a female ninja, perhaps the most agile and swift ninja in the tribe. She uses a flute, which was left for her by her mysterious mother. Her main attacks consist of high kicks and flute strikes that can stun enemies, while her special attack is playing her flute to mesmerize all nearby enemies. Her flute is useful to play when there is a large group of enemies and against samurai spearmen (before you get other ninjas), which will hurt Hiro when he gets close, but not against samurai archers. She is the first ninja rescued by Hiro on his quest, and is apparently somewhat a love interest for him.
  • Shun is the stealthiest Mini Ninja and is the second ninja the player rescues, after Suzume. Shun is the most tense of all the Mini Ninjas but he still maintains the unique ninja skill of calming himself to utter silence when it requires it. Shun wears camouflage and uses a bow and arrow. He is quick and clever with his bow. He can pick off enemies from a distance. His special attack enables him to tie a powerful, explosive fireworks to the shaft of an arrow. He is the only ninja who speaks, talking to himself in Japanese as he sneaks, leaps, and fires his arrows. He is useful against samurai captains since they will run away if you use close combat.
  • Tora, who believes to be a tiger ("Tora" in Japanese), is by far the most energetic of the Ninjas, furious in combat. He was left by his parents on the steps of the Ninja Village. Tora's favorite weapon is a pair of self-made tiger claws, which he uses to great effect. He can throw himself into a "tiger dash", propelling him forward at a great speeds when large distances need to be covered, pouncing into a spinning claw attack. He has unstable Ki energy which is useful to cover long distances. He is the third ninja the player rescues.
  • Kunoichi is the younger and less mature of the girls. Her weapon is a naginata (a type of Japanese spear), which she uses as a prop for her acrobatic moves. Her special attacks spins her spear above her head, drawing upon the magical energy infused within the weapon, before unleashing a spinning attack on her foes. Her ability is also useful with a large group of enemies because she can move while gathering Ki energy. Some of the other ninjas can only attack enemies in a close range or shoot arrows with a small splash radius. Kunoichi is very quiet, does not reveal much about herself and is a bit of a loner. She looks up to Suzume as an older sister and adores Hiro. She is the last ninja to be rescued.

Supporting Characters[edit]

  • Ninja Master is the elder and trainer of the Mini Ninjas. He finds and trains all the ninjas while they were still very young into professional ninjas. He successfully banished the Evil Samurai Warlord three hundred years before the game, and an era of peace followed. He even hid the scrolls of the Kuji arts. He sent all the ninjas but Hiro and Futo in search for the mystery behind the storms until finally he had to send Hiro and Futo.
  • Tengu are male crow-like humoniods who assist the ninjas. They can be seen throughout the game helping the ninjas in giving information about what has happened or what they should do. Sometimes, Tengu will give Hiro a prize for giving them an item which is usually a flower or mushroom of some kind. The older Tengu reside in Temples and sell Hiro the recipes to potions or weapons such as smoke bombs.
  • Zen is an elderly Tengu who helps Hiro and Futo finish their training before setting them off on their quest. He lives in the dojo on Ninja Mountain.

Antagonist[edit]

  • Evil Samurai Warlord (or Ashida in the DS version) is the boss of all the samurais and the main antagonist in the game. He was banished three hundred years ago before the start of the game. He can turn animals into samurais or turn them back into animals.

Development[edit]

Mini Ninjas booth at E3 2009

Mini Ninjas was announced on January 19, 2009, along with the first official trailer.[8] The game's origin lies in the developers' desires to make a game that they could "play with their kids".[9]

Reception[edit]

Mini Ninjas has been critically well received. As of April 2011, its average scores according to GameRankings are 80% (Wii), 61.90% (DS), 75.52% (PlayStation 3), 72.56% (Xbox 360) and 75.67% (PC).[10]

GameSpot review rated the game an 7.5 out of 10, saying: "Whether you're big or small, there's a lot to like about these little ninjas and their lengthy journey."[11] IGN gave the PS3 version of the game an 8 out of 10, finding this "family-friendly ninja affair" to be "an extremely pleasant surprise".[12] The Guardian awarded the game 4 out of 5 stars, concluding that the game's "constant charm renders it calming and even relaxing to play" and "any parent watching Mini Ninjas being played will find it hard to resist the temptation to have a go over their own."[13]

Tora was featured among the top ten ninja characters for PlayStation consoles by PLAY in 2011,[14] while Hiro was chosen to illustrate a similar list by Cheat Code Central.[15] In 2012, CraveOnline included Mini Ninjas on their list of five "badass ninja games" as "a quality ninja game that can be enjoyed with the whole family kids", adding that its "best aspect was, without a doubt, how slain enemies burst into cute animals instead of blood clouds. Super adorable."[16]

Mini Ninjas Adventures[edit]

In March 2012, Square Enix, who preside over Eidos Interactive,[17] filed a trademark in Europe for Mini Ninjas: Hiro's Adventure and created a domain "minininjashirosadventure.com."[18] That trademark was announced to be Mini Ninjas Adventures, a spin-off Kinect game for the Xbox Live Arcade exclusively, developed by Sidekick studio and released on June 29, 2012.[19][20]

Sources[edit]

  • Michael Knight, Mini Ninjas: Prima Official Game Guide, Random House Information Group, 2009.
References

External links[edit]