Ninja Shodown Review
Ninja Shodown is an action couch co-op game that fulfills the fast-paced slaughter of early arcade games. Developed by Rising Star Games this 2D fighting platformer will challenge You and three friends will have to fight countless waves of enemies to protect the Jade Katana. Or you can test your metal against your fellow ninjas in a plethora of fun multiplayer modes. Ninja Shodown puts your skills, speed, and reflexes to the test; albeit with a few gripes but overall a great multiplayer experience.
In Ninja Shodown, you play as one of the ninjas from the Viper Clan; who are sworn to protect the Jade Katana. The game allows the player to name their ninja and choose an appropriate color. This then transitions into a 2D platforming environment out of 5 preset stages: Temple, Dojo, Downtown, Museum, and Area 88. The players will have to either fight countless waves of enemies in each area or face off against each other depending on the game mode.
Ninjas can perform 3-hit melee strikes with their Katanas, throw shurikens, use special weapons, double jump, evade and revive fellow players. Ninjas move incredibly fast that often times it requires several play-throughs to fully master their agility. The player can perform aerial attacks like side swipes, an upward arc slash, and a downward thrust. Dodging allows the player to evade backwards with some invincibility and shurikens can be thrown across the screen for easy kills.
Each stage drops a variety of special weapons such as Sub-machine Guns, Rocket Launchers, Grenade Launchers, Ninja Spells, Bombs etc. Players can also sacrifice one of their lives to revive a fellow ninja if they choose to. You can earn extra lives in Arcade Mode by finishing levels quickly or after a certain amount of enemy kills in Infinite Mode.
Enemies can vary between simple henchmen that will slowly walk towards a player or crazy sumo demons that require more finesse to take down. All enemies can one hit kill the players at melee range. Matches can get intense and crazy with the amounts of enemies on screen. Blue Henchmen are equipped with body armor thus making them resilient to shurikens and other projectiles. Larger enemies often require multiple sword slashes to take down or you could attack their backs for a one hit kill, use special weapons, or use a downward thrust.
Each stage will summon their own enemy type designed for that stage, along with a combination of different colored henchmen. The Dojo will summon Bats and Sumo Demons alongside Green and Red Henchman. Knowing the spacing of the stage, the use of platforms, and your arsenal are key to surviving into the latter rounds. Enemies can be brutal at times because of the fast pace nature of the game but over time players will be able to identity enemy weaknesses and exploit them.
Dying can be frustrating at times because Ninja Shodown implements unforgiving hit-boxes. Often at times you’ll jump over enemies or attack them in the air only to die in the process. Enemies sprites come in all shapes and sizes but it is unclear if the player’s hit-box is large or not. Jumping over enemies seems to result in death even though it feels like the player should be able to. This isn’t a huge problem because the player over time learns how to develop better strategies to engage or run away.
Combat is fast and fluid. Often accomplishing a chain of kills in a matter of seconds with fast movement and positioning. However, playing with other ninjas can become confusing and a bit chaotic since a player’s ninja will often blend with the background. Also some special weapons are able to kill fellow players, making friendly fire a possibility to ruining a good run. Every life in the game matters and storing enough lives is the key to moving towards the next stage.
There are a total of three game modes that players can attempt to defeat. Arcade Mode allows 1-4 players to tackle several stages with 5 levels each. This mode is fun and a small sampling of what the game truly offers. However, Arcade Mode is not properly balanced for fewer players as the stages themselves are better suited for more. It’s almost impossible to beat Arcade Mode with only one player even though the game allows this. The amount of enemies on screen and area coverage becomes daunting to accomplish by oneself. Ninja Shodown should allow a drop-in multiplayer to help a single player tackle Arcade Mode or wait to gather enough friends.
Infinite Mode allows 1-4 players take on several enemies on a single map but enemies from the other 4 stages show up over time. Infinite is your typical horde-style mode and every ninja needs to survive for as long as possible. This mode allows players to gain lives or revive dead teammates after a certain number of enemy kills. The final tally of enemy deaths becomes your high score and the goal is to beat your groups’ last high score.
Versus Mode is where the game shines its brightest by offering great and addicting game-play experiences. There are 4 ways you can challenge your friends in Versus Mode.
- Last Ninja pits all fellow ninjas against each other. Each player has a total of 10 lives and the last person standing wins the round. Everything is a one hit kill but Katanas can clash which leads into a button smash duel to see who is the victor. Or another player can drop in on both ninjas who are locked in a duel and kill them.
- Battle allows players to kill each other several times over and the player with the largest amount of kills at the end wins.
- Coin is another fun game mode where players need to collect coins scattered across the level in treasure boxes. Players can steal other player’s currency through combat which often leads into an explosion of money!
- Crown is a king of the hill style game mode in which a ninja must hold onto his crown for as long as possible. The current player with the crown cannot attack and must evade his fellow ninjas to maintain a lead.
Versus is the best mode that Ninja Shodown offers and is perfectly suited for couch co-op hilarity. You’re able to select one of the previously mentioned modes, select a stage, and adjust to the level’s design among 5 variations. Playing against each other is fast, competitive, and a whole lot of fun. The only blemish is the lack of online matchmaking with friends who have the game. Random matchmaking with strangers would be a terrible idea since friendly fire could cause unwanted deaths and trolling. This game is built on couch co-op but having a second option to get friends together would have been a good addition.
Visuals and Sound:
The sound and visuals of this game are great and excellent attention to detail when it comes to enemy designs. The pixel art of the stages and enemy designs use a wide variety of color palettes. Stages can range from dark dungeon like aesthetics to bright and vibrant stages like Dojo and Area 88. The player’s animations look amazing when performing several jumps, slashes, or using special weapons.
The sound design and music keeps combat fast and upbeat. Sword slashes and projectiles sounds are amazing and gives weight to your attacks. Picking up new special weapons will have the announcer yelling “Shotgun!” or “Bombs!” with great enthusiasm. It is reminiscent of old arcade games like Metal Slug every time a player picks up a new weapon or performs amazing feats. The announcer will also loudly yell at you and your fellow ninjas who perform terribly with “C’Mon!” or “You Idiot.” Which only helps encourage your ninja clan to perform better and jump right back into the action when everyone dies.
Ninja Shodown is a great couch co-op game with fast action and great multiplayer options. Each game mode is fun but each differs in their approach and strategy. The game is not balanced or suited for anything less than 3 players but it’s still engaging and addictive. The game moves at lightning speed which requires practice to master movement and attack mechanics. Similar to games like Super Meat Boy, deaths and revives are almost instantaneous which encourage players to get back into the action and help their fellow ninjas. Versus game modes are fun with an emphasis on game-play and stage variety.
- THE GOOD
- Fast Action
- Great Multiplayer Modes
- Great Pixel Art and Music
- THE BAD
- Wonky Hit-Boxes
- Not Balanced For Fewer Players
- No Online Matchmaking
Ninja Shodown is a great multiplayer action game for up to 4 players. Slice and dice monsters across 5 unique stages or compete against your friends in fun multiplayer modes.