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Clumsy Ninja: Who knew that becoming a ninja could be so...meh

Roman Loyola | Jan. 22, 2014
I'm late to the Clumsy Ninja bandwagon, but I thought I'd give the iOS game a try during a holiday break from work. I really wanted to like Natural Motion's game, but after a few hours of level grinding with no payoff big or small, the game feels more like a chore than something enjoyable.

I'm late to the Clumsy Ninja bandwagon, but I thought I'd give the iOS game a try during a holiday break from work. I really wanted to like Natural Motion's game, but after a few hours of level grinding with no payoff big or small, the game feels more like a chore than something enjoyable.

There's a lot to like in Clumsy Ninja. The ninja you train is essentially a "virtual pet" and he's super cute and likeable, with his big round head dotted with big round eyes. Amazingly, he moves very naturally, even when he stumbles and bumbles on the training grounds. The physics are even more impressive when you tap and hold on to the ninja and drag him around (or spin him in circles in mid air, which I do frequently to amuse myself) — the animation is smooth and his body movements seem realistic. Add to that the gorgeous renderings of the training areas and the training devices, and Clumsy Ninja is a pleasure to look at.

To make your ninja less clumsy and more of a master, you train him with a set of devices: trampolines, punching bags, battle dummies, objects to throw at your ninja, and more. Finishing a training session with each device grants your ninja experience points, and each level requires a certain number of points before you can move up.

The training is where you'll spend a vast majority of the game, and for the first couple of hours, it's fun. But after you're done experimenting with your ninja between training sessions (What happens when I do this? Can I tap that?), the grind starts and you do the same training techniques over and over and over again. You start to feel like the frustrated warrior-in-training that you've seen in many action movies, petulant and antsy — when do I get to see some real action? The game hints at an adventure to find your friend, Kira, but as you continue to level up, there's no start of the adventure in sight.

The training devices needs to be "repaired" after each use, so it becomes unavailable for a lengthy period of time, sometimes hours. You can use gems earned during training to repair items, but then you may not have enough to spend on new training items when they are available. So, of course, you can buy more gems, which is probably what the developer wants you to do in the first place. (Clumsy Ninja is free and the developer needs to make money somehow, so I don't mind buying a few in-game enhancements, but I don't want to spend more than I think is appropriate, either. Clumsy Ninja used to have options to earn gems and coins by patronizing advertisers. But during this review, these options disappeared.)

 

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