To say YoYo Games has been pushing mobile game deployment in the past six months would be an understatement; they’ve been charging forward. Although every day developers have not yet been given the tools to publish on mobile platforms, such as iOS and Android, YoYo has been taking great games developed with Game Maker and porting them for us. Ninjammin Beat-Jitsu is no exception. Keep in mind that I am reviewing this game on iOS (specifically, an iPhone 4), and while I expect the performance to be similar on Android, I don’t make any guarantees!
The game begins with a wonderfully done introduction sequence that lays out the basics of the story for the player. You are assuming the role of 8O8, a ninja from the future, who receives a package containing a memory stick from long ago. After a few moments of narration, a rap performance begins; while somewhat difficult to understand (the lyrics are captioned at the bottom of the screen), it is quite funny and sets you up for a practice level to try your skills on.
The game is split up into five episodes, each containing a few independent levels, as well as a prologue and a finale. If you happen to die, or chose to retry the level from the menu, you will be taken back to the beginning of the level, with your score being reset to zero (for the level, not the episode), and your timer staying the same. You unlock the following episode by successfully completing the one prior. The game also features speed runs, challenge mode, and achievements.
As for actual gameplay, the mechanics aren’t overly difficult to grasp. There are four directional buttons on the screen (up, down, left, and right; also note that there are two different control layouts) which correspond to actions that you’ll encounter throughout the game. While you are constantly moving in the game (similar to a side-scrolling platformer), you will encounter these action circles, that, when matched with the proper button being pressed, allow you to jump, slide, clear gaps, or fight various enemies. Failure to hit these can result in a number of scenarios. Sometimes, you’ll be forced to take a different path to the end of the level, or be given a second chance at hitting it (for example, when wall jumping). Other times, though, your failure will result in your death, usually by falling.
In addition to the controls being used to perform the actions I described above, there are also large amounts of musical notes spread throughout the chapters. Similar to the action circles, you need to match the button to the note in order to gain bonus points. There is no penalty to missing these, though!
As you traverse the levels, you will also encounter a number of different enemies. They require you to successfully complete a button sequence (its order and length differs between the levels) in order to defeat them. If you move too slowly, you will be killed by the enemy and have to start at your last checkpoint. Other enemies exist as well; for example, if you fail a wall jump the first time, one may kill you with a laser beam.
The music found in the game is a pleasure to listen to, although it does get repetitive at times. You’ll hear guitar riffs from time to time (particularly while fighting an enemy), disk scratches, and more. There really isn’t much more to say, other than you won’t be disappointed with the audio found in the game.
You might be asking yourself, “Is there anything negative to say about the game?” Unfortunately, there is. I’ve waited until the end of this review to describe this, because, in all honesty, the game is possibly the best YoYo Games port I have played on iOS. That being said, it does have a flaw that will leave you frustrated quite often, and may even force you to put down the game in order to ‘cool off’.
In the handful of hours I spent with the game, I would often find my input not registering with the game, or if it did register, it would be too late and I would find myself missing the intended target. Sometimes I would continue on a different path, other times I would fall into a pit of acid. Also of note, it seemed to occur more on the left/right buttons then on the other two. The worst part about this bug is that you can try it for yourself by just touching the button; the glow, indicating you pressed it, is clearly not instantaneous.
I’m at an impasse in regards to how I should address this. Yes, it is considerably annoying, and at times leads you to fail at your goal. On the other hand, this seems more like a problem attributed to the port over to iOS/Android. That being said, this is a review of the mobile version of the game, and if it does prevent you from playing the product as intended, then you should be aware of this before you purchase the game.
All in all, Ninjammin Beat-Jitsu is a fantastic game for mobile devices. The interesting game play mechanics and music make it a great, inexpensive buy. But, the game does feature some input lag, which may make the game difficult to play from time to time.
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