There appears to be consumer confusion with Square Enix's Mini Ninjas for iPhone and iPad. Some players wrongly assumed (us included) that the publisher intended to re-release its 2009 console hit on mobile. Instead, we received an endless runner set within the same universe. While the slightest bit disappointing, there's no denying this title's quality, making it a welcome $0.99 impulse buy that provides several hours of enemy-slashing fun.
Viewed from a side scrolling perspective and apparently based on "authentic ninja values", Mini Ninjas puts you in control of Hiro, a fearless warrior with one goal in mind: set off running and continue to do so, even with a variety of obstacles in his way, from sword-carrying rivals to explosive containers, spikes and rocks.
To that end, it's the usual control scheme of tapping one side of the screen to jump, the other to attack, along with the chance to briefly run along walls when the opportunity present itself. That alone makes for a good time, but is also par for the course as far as endless runners go.
On that note, Mini Ninjas separates itself from the rest of the pack in two key areas. First, you have the option of switching to Hiro's buddies at specific moments, each of which possess signature abilities. Futo, clearly the tank of the group, smashes through rocks, while Suzume attracts gold coins (think of her as the familiar magnet that often appears in these sort of games). Then we have Kunoichi, who can jump higher and glide across the play area. Granted, you cannot switch to these characters permanently, you always return to being Hiro, but this adds variety to the experience.
As for the second feature, the developers litter the track with a plethora of ingredients that, once collected, combine to form potions that do all sorts of useful things, like granting you an extra life, extending your sword's reach and shielding Hiro from attack; to keep things balanced, Square Enix put each spell's creation on a timer, but you can always make them outright by spending coins picked up during play. You can only equip two spells at a time, and with 11 to choose from, this offers a unique approach to each run.
Not only that, but this is one of those rare Square Enix games that's both cheap and fair from an in-app purchase perspective. Can you buy more coins? Sure, but you don't have to. Perhaps someone with authority paid attention to all the negativity as a result of the company's money grubbing.
Yes, Mini Ninjas wasn't the game we expected, but it's still a quality effort that compliments its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 counterpart. If you're in search of a runner that offers something different, this is $0.99 well spent.
Review code provided by Square Enix.
What's Hot:Switching characters during a run, non-stop action, equipping spells, different costumes and weapons to unlock.
What's Not:Waiting upwards of 10 minutes to create a spell.