Atomic Ninjas Review

From developers Grip Games, makers of Foosball 2012 comes a new brawler for the PS Vita. It’s a genre that is new to the Vita, but is it worth your time?

Atomic Ninjas is a game about Ninjas that have to fight other Ninjas. Nothing more, nothing less. An event happens that basically causes the end of the world and that means that the Ninjas, who survived the terrible event, are now forced to fight each other for all eternity.

So yeah, that is all you’ll get plot wise, but hey it matters not, as what counts in a game like this, is how well it plays. With Atomic Ninjas you have a game that neither excels, nor fails at what it is aiming at.

Influences are clear, it has a bit of Super Smash Bros and Jump Ultimate Stars, mixed with a bit Rocket Riot. Yep, it is a single arena brawler where you must basically use all kinds of weapons and techniques to destroy all the other Ninjas for points. The battle system works like a real times Worms but with less choice.

There are three types of attack, punch is used for close melee attacks, with shuriken for ranged attacks and force grab, for picking up objects from around the map to throw at your foes. Alongside the attacks there are different tools for traversing the arena. The grappling hook, rockets and claw each allow you to move around and gain an advantage over an opponent and can even be used as a weapon if you are clever enough.

The pieces are all there for a fine entry into the genre, yet after playing for a small while the game feel a little off, especially when compared to other titles such as the aforementioned Super Smash Bros. You aim with the right stick, while performing actions with the right shoulder button, whilst also moving with the left stick. Now this sounds like it should work fine, on the Vita anyway, but for some reason it feels quite cumbersome and un-natural. You never really feel like you are in full control.

That said, you do get used to the controls and they are manageable and pretty soon you will feel competitive, but it does feel it is in spite of the controls. You feel like you are battling not only your opponents, but also your own dexterity. This dampens the fun you feel you should be having.

It is a shame, as the mechanics of the game itself work well, there isn’t an overly complex battle system to master, which means that winning is down to your own skill, rather than being someone who has learned every inch of a huge catalogue of moves. You never feel like you are entering a round destined to lose from the offset, which is a testament to the the way the game has been thought about, it should see new comers be as competitive as long time veterans. No player will feel overwhelmed, which is vital for a game which is pretty much designed to be played online from the very beginning.

Visually Atomic Ninjas isn’t pushing any boundaries on the Vita, it looks polished enough but won’t be winning any awards for design. It does the job it needs to do though, arenas a well laid out and the characters are easy enough to follow as are the pickups for weapons and the like.

As said, the game is made for online play, but there is a single player option, although this counts mainly as a way for you to practice your skills, learn some of the layouts and basically get a feel for the game. After a while you will be relying completely on the online community, which at the time of writing was busy enough that getting games wasn’t an issue at all.

Credit must also be given to the net-code. The games run really smoothly and there was hardly any noticeable lag in any of the games we played. There were a couple of crashes, but they seemed to come in games that were consecutive, so benefit of the doubt that it was a connection issue, rather than anything in the game itself.

Atomic Ninjas is a completely average game and that is meant with the greatest respect. It is a mid-tier game, that will never be a long term favourite, but there is room for that, it is a game you are happy to pick up, play for a couple of weeks then move on.  At £7.99 it doesn’t break the bank and you will get value for your outlay for that small amount of time you spend with the game,