Ninjas are cool! They possess deadly skills many want, but few have the diligence to acquire. For those of us who aren’t patient enough to sit through years of ninja training, there’s Ninjas - Stolen Scrolls. Will the skills of a ninja be everything you hoped and dreamed, or would you be better off becoming a pirate?

The story? Our ninja heroes’ scrolls have been stolen (a refreshing change from the usual damsel in distress tale), and it’s up to these black-clad badasses to get them back. Sounds easy enough, right? Think again. You’ll face off against all kinds of obstacles, including, but not limited to; evil ninja dogs, evil ninjas, evil traps, evil zombies, evil dungeons, and evil big bosses. The whole thing is overflowing with evil! Players can choose between four types of ninjas -- all garbed in colors matching their elements. There’s fire, wind, water, and lightning. Your choice of element affects what kind of unique ability your ninja will possess. Two more ninjas, with super-awesome and mysterious powers, can be unlocked by playing the game. Patience, my friend. The gameplay is nicely varied between levels, always having enemies to attack, but sometimes new things are thrown in like running from a boulder.

Ninjas - Stolen Scrolls is a call-back to the button mashing beat ‘em ups of the ‘90s, a style of game that, when done right, can be amazing. However, one of the major requirements for such a beat ‘em up is responsive controls, and herein lies the problem with Ninajs. Despite being super easy to grasp, the controls here are ineffective and your ninja will spend much of his/her/its time spazzing out during combat instead of going where you directed him to go. A simple swipe across the screen will move your stealthy ninja in that direction… most of the time. Tapping on the right side of the screen busts out attack moves for enemies on the right of you; tapping on the left is supposed to attack to the left. This rarely goes as planned. Half the time you may be tapping right, but little ninja is going left to attack that darn air that everyone hates. Swipe one way and you’ll run to the edge of the screen, and sometimes off the screen. Swipe again the same way and you’ll walk two feet or not move at all. You’ll eventually get used to the controls, but that doesn’t change the fact that they need fixing.

As briefly mentioned above (and shown in the picture), the characters are capable of stepping off the screen where you can’t see them. And yes, baddies follow, so you can be getting your ass handed to you by a foe you can only half see and you have no idea which way you need to attack because you can’t see yourself. It’s not like you get lost in oblivion or anything, and you can easily get back on screen if the controls are working, and the baddies aren’t pinning you in place. But, with this game, that’s a big if.

Even aside from the issues, Ninjas - Stolen Scrolls can be pretty fun. Power up your ninja, equip him/her with better weapons, pound on some baddies’ faces, and search for the stolen scrolls. As is typical with most iOS games, the in-game purchases are fairly pricey, so be prepared to put in the time or some real-world dimes.


App Store Link: Ninjas - Stolen Scrolls for iPhone & iPad | By Daigo Nakamura | Price: $0.99 | Version: 1.0.0 | 57.6 MB | Rating 9+

6.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating