Town to keep me movin’.
Ninja Town takes a popular video game scheme that is traditionally rooted in ranged combat and makes it a little—not much, but a little—more personal. Even though a lot of bad, cowardly people seem to use them, I personally don’t see anything dishonorable about ranged weapons per se. If you think about it, giving the other guy any opportunity whatever to hit you back is just, well, stupid. Still, there is something satisfying about coming down from your tower and wailing on someone ninja-style… even if the ninjas in questions are almost too calculatedly-cute to handle.
Ninja Town for the Nintendo DS is half hybrid action/strategy game, half blatant marketing ploy tie-in to the nearly limbless, collectable little plushies of the same name. Mechanically, it’s a slight tweak of a ‘tower defense’ game, wherein players knock up huts of various defensive capacities along the path of a road twisting through town—along which march processions of different enemy types. Making the most of available resources, it’s the player’s job to strategically place said huts in a manner that will most impede the enemy’s surprisingly-orderly, parade-route onslaught.
Instead of merely cranking off the usual bullets, energy beams, or small explosives, Ninja Town’s huts disgorge tiny packs of differently-clothed, differently-skilled ninjas (not “differently-abled” ninjas; that would be an entirely other sort of game... although it might be pretty funny). Your Ninja Town is a veritable (Japanese-)Swiss-army knife of fighter-implements, and you’ll need to use the right tool for the right job. You’ll also want to avoid using really, really bad metaphors if you can manage it. (Like picking the right president for the Special Olympics? ~Ed.)
Both friend and enemy character types include...
- The basic standard-issue-but-fast Wee Ninja
- The slow-but-powerful Anti-Ninja (clad in bright orange, presumably because camouflage is for wusses) (Naruto will never be included in that analogy. ~Ed.)
- The White Ninja (whose freezing attack can slow his foes)
- The ancient Master Ninja with a specially-powered, stylus-controlled hickory staff one-hit-kill attack and the “Get Off My Lawn” attack (which uses the DS microphone to literally blow enemies away)
- The creepily-sentient “Ninja Dropping” which is left on the crosstown path by other ninjas (and is exactly what you think it is)
- The evil flaming Wee Devil
- The Zombie Ninja (which I’m afraid is also exactly what you think it is).
- And because some ninjas are really prudent, there’s a Sniper Ninja as well.
(For the record, there’s also a Business Ninja, as well as something called a Ninja Consultant; from what we’ve gathered so far. The difference seems to be that one of them carries a little cell phone. All the while, the Dear Reader Ninja actually thinks I’m kidding about that last part.)
Ninja Cookies are the (edible) coin of the realm used to buy huts, and you’ll earn them by eliminating enemies or getting rid of your existing huts (which you’ll do in order to add to, re-arrange, or upgrade your buildings for maximum defensive effect as the enemy’s attacks change). Ninja Cookies are also, one could posit, primarily responsible for the existence of Ninja Droppings. (But why would anybody want to point that out? Just to be gross?)
As with all games of this type, there’s a maximum allowable amount of ‘enemy leakage’. As the attacks become faster, more insistent or more devious, it becomes harder to prevent individual enemies or clusters of them from breaking through your defenses to your base/town. Let more than 20 of them slip through the cracks, and your cause is lost, your clan is dishonorable—and your mama thinks that Samurai Deeper Kyo is way cooler than the Ninja Scroll movie.
Ninja Town is destined to walk between the raindrops in October.