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11 July 2010

Ninjabread Man [Wii]

Plot Synopsis: 5/10
It's a gingerbread man who is also a ninja. I have to say that I am a fan of clever puns, and the base concept, here, is definitely one of the more original ideas i've seen in the video game world in a long time.
The story, however, is decidedly unoriginal. A bunch of bad guys have taken over Candy Land, and it's up to you, the Ninjabread Man, to defeat them and save the day. That's it.
I'm rating the plot at a 5 out of 10. And the only reason it's getting that high a rating is because of the fact that the concept started with a relatively clever pun. Ultimately, the minimal story to the game reminds me of the types of games found on the original NES, and I can't help but think this game would have been better if it was developed as a simpler side-scrolling platformer, instead of implementing three-dimensional, 360-degree movement and the Wii's motion-based controls.

Game Play: 4/10
I'm not a fan of the control scheme. The controls require the use of the nunchuck attachment for the Wii-mote. Fitting, since the game is about a ninja gingerbread man. The tutorial that teaches you how to control the main character almost seems like it is designed to make things significantly more difficult. As you play, you are told that jumping, a crucial skill for ninjas made of baked goods, requires an upward flick of the nunchuck attachment. What you are not told, at all, however, is that a quick press of the Z button will do the very same thing, with more reliable results.
Slashing the sword is done by slashing similarly with the Wii-mote itself. This makes sense, as a concept, but the game seems a bit buggy in that something seems to get lost in communication between the Wii-mote and the game, when attempting to actually do this, resulting in your enemies being able to land attacks while you just stand there like a dummy.
Finally, the camera is initially set up from a third-person point of view, just behind you. As you play, you have a full 360 degrees of movement, in any direction you please. The problem, here, lies in the fact that the camera has a real tough time catching up when you change from one direction to another, and I have yet to find a button to reorient the camera angle.
I have to give the game play a 4 out of 10. Discovering, through my own experimenting (see "pushing buttons to see what they may or may not do") that the Z button makes you jump made things a little easier, but there are still too many other issues with the controls for me to be comfortable rating the game play any higher.

Graphics: 6/10
All of the landscapes, in Ninjabread Man, are intended to appear as though they are made of various baked goods and confectionary treats, such as lollipops, chocolate chip cookies, and cinnamon rolls. One almost feels a need to call the dentist for a cleaning, after playing for a while. Unfortunately, not all of the visuals are well-executed. In fact, there are some aspects of the landscape that I can tell are supposed to be something recognizable, but, quite frankly, I'll be damned if I can figure out what they're supposed to be.
The graphics get a 6 out of 10. Mostly, they're adequate, but they fall short in a few places, rendering some objects unrecognizable.

Audio: 5/10
The music isn't bad, but it is, as with a lot of games, utterly forgettable. It is all just a bunch of short loops that repeat over and over until you finish the level. In fact, they repeat so often that, after working on the same level for a while (because the controls are so difficult), I, personally, feel the need to mute the sound on the television because I'm sick of listening to the music.
There really isn't any voice acting, beyond the occasional grunt or groan of effort from your character.
The audio gets a 5 out of 10. I don't really have anything else to say about it to wrap this section up...

Overall Score: 5/10
So far, this is the lowest score I've ever given a game. I really want to like the game. As I mentioned, I really like the base concept that they started with: a gingerbread man ninja. And all because someone realized that the words 'ginger' and 'ninja' sound pretty similar. Fine by me.
But the game itself was just poorly developed. I can't help but feel they should have invested more, by taking the time to work out the issues with the controls, and improving the graphics a bit, or they should have invested less, by making it an older-style side-scrolling platformer, like the original Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man titles. In fact, I'd bet money that, if they had made this game a lower-end side-scroller, and just made it available as downloadable Wii-ware through the Shop Channel, the game would have done far better than this.
Overall, quite a disappointing turnout. I was hoping for much better, when I first heard about this title.

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