In an increasingly saturated market of titles devoted to online multiplayer, it is always nice to see a production that tries to stand out in this area. Despite some post reveal trailer declarations, dating back two years ago, Ninjala seemed a much more canonical title and decided to follow the path of PUBG and Fortnite, at least in its structural philosophy, it was then declared that the title would have enjoyed a soul far more singular. To define the title of GungHo Online Entertainment rather than lean on the two aforementioned titles, or the Splatoon to which it resembles so much in aesthetic terms, we should perhaps bring up the unfortunate Bleeding Edge of Microsoft, but also in this case it would not be too effective, since the Ninja Theory title is closer to the dynamics of Hero Shooter but with a brawler declination.
And right here is the point of contact with Ninjala, which could actually be called a "Brawler arena" to be played solo or in teams. The title also comes by adopting the model free to playthus giving everyone a chance to participate, including players who are not members of Nintendo's online service. A great way to launch and advertise the product therefore, giving everyone a way to get their hands on it and be able to test its qualities. Certainly putting your wallet in hand is possible, and obviously desired by the development team, by accessing the Season Pass which allows you to play a story mode divided by chapters and get special bonuses and rewards for customizing our avatar, but it is totally irrelevant in terms of game and therefore the specter of pay2win is immediately removed. The production certainly shows interesting aspects and there are many ideas and ideas in the new Nintendo exclusive, but unfortunately there is also a lot of confusion.
Battle Royale (?)
Ninjala, after a short tutorial in which he explains his salient mechanics, immediately throws us into the fray, testing us with some 8-player battles all against all. Later it provides us with the possibility, once advanced in our "career", to choose the second mode made available, for the same number of participants but this time in teams, in a 4v4 with objectives however almost identical to the solo mode. Basically our goal is always to do points, destroying the drones scattered around the map and, of course, knocking out the opponents. All this, however simple - perhaps too much - is however very little tactical or reasoned and indeed deliberately chaotic. In conclusion, the goal is to beat everything that happens to us, being careful of the whims of the camera and not being caught by surprise behind, perhaps ending up in an involuntary melee from which it is difficult to get out intact.
Basically Ninjala is a title that therefore wants to be immediate and frenetic, without wanting to rely on strategies or tactics of any kind, not giving importance to team play, being the communication between players to date totally accessory, and thus allowing you to start a game without too many thoughts, immediately jumping into action. At the same time, however, the game doesn't tell us many details it has a slightly more tactical substrate which is easy to remain unaware of. In addition to being a deficiency towards the accessibility of the player, who without knowing some dynamics or reading them in a barely hinted way could feel even more disoriented and fall victim to frustration, it is also a mistake regarding the game design itself and its desire of immediacy.
The shortage of situations and the honestly incomprehensible lack of different ways in which to try can show the side after a few hours at a certain repetitiveness, yet it is clear that the potential is there to be a simple but functional and fun title. In addition, they are present only two maps to date and, albeit very different, they fail to affect so much in the clashes. Despite having a good verticality and an acceptable extension, the arena devoted to team combat cannot offer game ideas or variety to the fighting, while the more canonical arena, mainly used for everyone against everyone, has the simple intent to provide a space for the wrestlers but without any kind of design care. The lack of content and the little strength of those present seems closer to a product still in production than to a title ready to debut on the market.
Big Babol No Jutsu!
Ninjala's combat system is what makes it a product quite innovative within the genre, albeit not very original in itself. We have a basic attack, one to break the guard, one special and one finishing move. These attacks must be combined with the ability to jump, run on the walls and perform aerial dashes and of course to block the opponent's blows. In short, in this it is quite canonical and not too dissimilar from arena fighting in the basic concepts of the product. However, they can be equipped different weapons equipped with different types of attack, special moves, endings and passive abilities, which will give the necessary variety to the clashes, considering that the characters are not heroes Overwatch or Bleeding Edge style but simply customizable avatars.
Consequently, we have various approaches available according to our tastes and style of play: some weapons allow us to enter the ground to hide and move quickly without being seen and then resurface and hit the unsuspecting opponents from behind, or stun the enemies, trap them , and so on. Same goes for the super-moves, which can range from canonical and destructive area attacks to temporary, but devastating, buffs for our weapon. Everything is then accompanied by a basic skill that each ninja is equipped with, that of disguise itself as an object to go unnoticed. This aspect is doubly fallacious because not only does the game never enter into a passive perspective in either of the two modalities present today (but who knows what the future can reserve), above all the elements do not foresee many objects to mix with, consequently it results in most of the cases an unnecessary defensive tactic.
The real clashes, however, go away quite smoothly. thanks to their immediacy which, however, expresses itself in a way that is too "caciarona" and uncontrolled. In addition, there is an additional system RNG which increases the riot of confusion and is related to parry. By blocking an enemy shot, but also reacting after a shot immediately, it is possible to enter a sort of mini-game in which to choose between four positions in which to move, in order to hit the opponent and turn the situation around. The systems of "Guessing" they are not new in this branch of games but usually, when they work, they have a strategy behind them that can lead to trying to guess the opponent's move in order to neutralize it accordingly, while in this it is all left to chance. To close the circle there are also some skills that can be equipped with a card system able to give us other more or less incisive benefits and with the possibility of equipping up to three different ones. Their help is certainly welcome but not invasive, so even a player without a card will not be penalized too much. Ultimately, the combat system of Ninjala, while presenting a certain fluidity and managing to have fun in the right moments, is just enough to support the gaming experience.
That artistically Ninjala is a product very derivative it's no secret: the color palette and the stylistic cut really remind Splatoon a lot and this prevents the game from having a completely unique verve. The choice to make the children protagonists of the game can be apt to get closer to the smaller players, while the whole question related to bubble gum. albeit nice, it is perhaps a bit anachronistic. The characters to be deployed on the pitch can be totally customized by the player on an aesthetic level and this has weakened their main character design a bit, which also remains a bit too superficial in this case.
Technically, however, the game shows itself fit enough, even in portable mode, with good general modeling of the elements and also of the numerous visual effects on the screen. The animations of the characters do their duty, but not much more, making the exchanges of blows a little "mechanical" and the feeling of the impacts not really clean. In terms of menu design care and polishing, the title is very well packaged, while the soundtrack works and accompanies the clashes well, but without being memorable. Overall Ninjala it works well technically, it is colorful and lively but at the same time it never seems to want to do anything more that can best characterize it.
While considering its shortcomings, Ninjala it is not a complete failure. The potential is there but probably the developers themselves need to better frame their creature. A key to reading the title would be to take the product as one open beta, and begin to understand the dynamics of the title of GungHo. Given its free to play nature in short, Ninjala still deserves a chance but if you are not already particularly inspired by the Nintendo brawler, the advice is to wait for the team to have time to refine and disregard it, making it more complete. The fast and intuitive combat system is certainly the strength of the game, but at the same time it is weakened by an overall unbalanced and too often chaotic gameplay. The hope is that a constructive dialogue will be created between the community and the developers, in order to provide Ninjala with the essential additions and finishes to make it a title worthy of a Nintendo exclusive.