Atomic Ninjas review – pint-sized pirate killers 
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James Lenoir
October 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Games have taught me a wealth of useful titbits over the years: Zombies are suckers for head-shots, bikini Mithril armour can fend off arrows, battle axes, magic missiles and fireballs and princesses are never imprisoned in the castle you’re laying siege to. But the most recent addition left me intrigued.

Apparently, a radioactive explosion can leave ninjas super-powered and extremely angsty for blood, revenge and guts. In fact, that’s all you really need to know about Grip Games’ shuriken-flinging, katana-slicing comic ninja extravaganza, Atomic Ninjas.

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It’s a title that’s not too bothered with a story. You’re definitely not going to fend off an army of ashigaru with your hardcore ninjitsu skills, or save a loved one from an evil feudal lord, nor will you be questing or attempting stealth kills while hidden among bamboo trees. Atomic Ninjas takes a breather from such obvious and frivolous fare. In fact, Atomic Ninjas throws caution to the wind and focuses entirely on unleashing the jutsu through multiplayer action. This is a game that’s definitely not for the unsuspecting and idealistic white belts of the world.  While I have been critical of games that focussed purely on multiplayer mayhem, I couldn’t help but be impressed by how Grip Games managed to squeeze such frantic and chaotic battles into such a small game.

The truth is, Atomic Ninjas is fairly simplistic in its gaming philosophy. There’s an arena, throw in four would-be warriors and mix in a number of objectives (modes). The objectives can range from King-of-the-Hill, to Capture-The-Flag or even simple deathmatch or Team deathmatch. However, the key is survival. As a ninja, you have to be nimble and in complete control of your actions – be it eviscerating your opponents with shurikens, hiding behind some rocks or using your ninja tools to your advantage. You have access to three weapons or attacks (punch, shurikens and a force push), and three tools to help you navigate the arena (a wall claw, rocket and grappling hook).

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I found it amazing that while the game is limited by the number of weaponry and tools (you can only use one tool and one attack at a time), it is possible to combine your attacks in creative ways, or even to steal the weapons of a downed foe. I became fairly adept at using the grappling hook and shurikens. The grappling hook made it possible to swing across the map, between platforms or even to stop myself from falling into traps, whereas the shurikens helped me to pick off my enemies with ease. Of course, I should probably mention that the attacks themselves won’t kill an enemy, instead enemies have to pushed into electrical traps, fire pits or pools of lava. It adds to the chaos, because even the projectiles from allies can knock you off platforms.

While the simplicity of Atomic Ninjas won me over. There were a number of issues that had me kneeling on the ground, with a tanto in hand. My main concern has to be lasting appeal. After only a few hours I had played all the modes, seen all the arenas, and fought an unhealthy number of foes. I suppose it’s one of the weaknesses of a game tailored towards a multiplayer experience. Granted, it is possible to play on your own against AI bots, but it’s obviously not the same. The ranking system and the Ninja Trials are two ways the game does help to keep you interested. Both the trials and the ranking systems helps to unlock upgrades, additional powers and new Ninja characters. 

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The various characters come with different weapon and equipment loadouts.  In case you were wondering,  the Ninja Trials are supplementary objectives that can be completed during a match. They may range from using punch at least ten times or scoring victories through the use of the iron claw or even demanding that you steal your opponents’ moves.  In lieu of a singleplayer mode: I’m also not sure how many times I found myself unceremoniously kicked from a lobby. The pain I felt with each rejection clawed deep into my embryonic Shinobi soul. However, each hurtful bump only tempered my resolve as I hungered for the opportunity to showcase my ninja skills.

Despite a number of obvious flaws, Grip Games has managed to create a visually satisfying brawler, with colourful set-pieces and quirky ninja characters. The cynic in me would have loved to rip it to pieces, but there’s an undeniable charm here. The fact that you can easily play online or create a local match (via split-screen) with four players makes Atomic Ninjas an ideal candidate for a party game.

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The controls are straightforward which means any one (even non-gamers) can quickly come to grips with it, but it also allows skilled players to show off their extreme gaming and ninja skills. Not to mention, the pot is sweetened even further by the fact that the title features both cross-play and cross-buy. This means that you can play the game on both your PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) or PlayStation 3 (PS3).

Conclusion

Atomic Ninjas may be a little flawed, but I gladly recommend this colourful and quirky indie brawler to anyone with access to the PSN library. As a cross-play and cross-buy title, it makes a worthy addition to both the PS3 and PS Vita. However, it might be too much of a niche title for some gamers.
6.5

Atomic Ninjas was reviewed by James Lenoir on a PS Vita


  • Admiral Chief Ninja

    BA

    NA

    NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Apparently if you post under a Banana article and help him to Batman status, you could win a prize!

      • Admiral Chief Ninja

        WHAT CAN I WEEENA WEEENA?

        • TiMsTeR1033

          A banana tie!

      • Hammersteyn

        Wouldn’t that make you Bananaman?

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Bananaman for the Week?

          • Fair usage John

            I thought, being the only Bananaman, you’d automatically always be the Bananaman of the week.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But alas… :/

          • Fair usage John

            Life is truly unfair

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Indeed, but at least there is NeverWet!

          • Fair usage John

            Ah yea…
            Must be neverwet in Savannah.

          • TiMsTeR1033

            It is! I tried to do a burnout on someone’s face in Gta v and I didn’t see the spraying blood! THEY LIED TO ME!

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            The blood is a lie in GTA V :( Ironically, the game needs more Manhunt and less Desperate Housewives of Los Santos!

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        O rly?

      • TiMsTeR1033

        Yo Jimmy help a brother out, gimme the prize! lol Nice review man! You should do way more stuff!

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    If anyone doubts my ninja skills? Way back when I was in primary school, I took 4 months of Karate. It made me a ninjitsu expert! I was the boss!

    • TiMsTeR1033

      For a day…

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        For a week! Until, I got legitimately beaten by a yellow belt in playground kung fu! She would eventually become my girlfriend as a teenager! :D

        • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

          The banana was beaten?

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Cough! I let her win.. damnit :P

          • TiMsTeR1033

            She really became your Gf as a teenager? That is a victory then!

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Yeah, lol!

        • Fair usage John

          You had a girlfriend as a teenager? Wow. That’s like every gamer’s dream.

          • TiMsTeR1033

            It is! Thankfully 17 isn’t too bad, So I was okay!

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    Game looks kinda fun :)

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      It’s very cool – I especially liked the split screen and Vita cross-play options. I managed to play against both the missus, my brother-in-law and an internet random, by connecting online, setting up a match and having the missus battle us via the Vita, while her brother was playing against me on split-screen, and the random joining us from the great Web!

  • Admiral Chief Ninja

    Does VEEEKTAAAWWWRRR play on a VEEETAAA?

    • Hammersteyn

      Yes and he eats PROVEEEETAAAAA

      • Admiral Chief Ninja

        And for dinner PEEEZAAA

  • Umar ZoMg Reiner

    Looks quite cool wanted to pick this up but there are too many other PSN titles released that I am more interested in like Malicious Rebirth

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      I’ve been playing Malicious, it’s ok so far, a little confusing in the beginning though.

      • Umar ZoMg Reiner

        It looked really cool , the art design caught my eye. how are you finding the gameplay? Also, nice review :)