We sneak up on this action-heavy ninja slasher.
The first thing we were reminded of when firing up Team Drill's Blood Ninja for the first time was Mika Mobile's outstanding Battleheart. Battles are split into isolated, themed zones across a dotted map comprised of various stages, there's the hint of familiarity in the cartoon styling, and it's very much a tale of you against the world as you fight off waves of marauding monsters who lurch onto the screen from the invisible wings.
That's where the similarities stop though. Taking on the role of a single character, rather than the roster of roaming adventurers of that other game, you'll need to fight for survival across a series of levels against various enemies that home in on you from left or right. The most basic require you to dart nimbly away from their melee attacks before swooping in for a sword slice yourself, while others hurl projectiles which you'll need to leap over before taking them down.
The controls are sensibly laid out but they do lack a little responsiveness. You'll need to be very, very determined in what you're going to achieve with your next action, whether that's moving out of the way or going in to dish out some damage, as there feels like a hefty delay between actions.
What are your options on the battlefield then? As well as two different sword strokes, the game also features some lovely combo patterns of the two, which freshens up the combat very nicely. You'll unlock a series of devilishly deadly combos as you level up through the game. In the shop store, you can pick up new health potions, weapons and armour with the cash you earn throughout the campaign.
Whoever produced the soundtrack for the game definitely deserves a pay-rise, as the game features some thumping, tribal and occasionally Bond-esque music that works fantastically to hold the action and the setting together. Combined with the slaughter, it's an extremely likeable title indeed.
You're really going to have to wrestle with those controls though, and put some serious time into mastering (or more accurately, being able to second-guess) the timing that will allow you to take down enemies gracefully after a knock-down, or execute a stab at just the right moment before darting away from the melee threat. Something "sticky" is going on behind the scenes, and we can't deny that it takes some of the shine off the game.
So, niggles about the reactiveness of the controls sit awkwardly with a game that's presumably built around fast-paced combat, but Blood Ninja is still a very enjoyable game indeed. If you've got the patience to master some of its more sluggish handling, you'll be amply rewarded. Whichever camp you fall into, we definitely recommend checking Blood Ninja out for yourself as the try-before-you-buy nature of the game means this won't be time wasted for any mobile gamer.
What's Hot: Great artwork, lovely music and some frantic mob-bashing action. The combo and upgrade system is a very welcome one.
What's Not: The controls are a little too sluggish and the 2D nature of the battlefields can start to feel a little repetitive.