Saturday, May 14, 2011

I told you I'd be back...

... and with one totally over-used Terminator reference, I can happily say that I have returned to the Old Bits to blog to the masses about general gaming goodness. I've had a busy past year, and I now feel like I finally have the time to post about gaming at least once a week. I've played some interesting stuff recently, and I can't wait to share my thoughts about it.

For starters, today I downloaded a title on XBLA called Nin2-Jump (pronounced "Nin Nin Jump"). It's a platformer that was developed by Cave, who are mainly known for their bullet hell shooters. I love most everything that Cave puts out, and Nin2-Jump is no exception.


This game puts you in the role of Nin-ja who must traverse five worlds, with ten levels in each of them, to save princess Sakura from the stereotypical bad guy who kidnapped her. Yeah, it's light on the story, but so what? The atmosphere more than makes up for it. The game is presented as a shadow puppet show, complete with a silhouette of a MST3K (that's Mystery Science Theater 3000 for you lame-os out there) style audience. The graphics are simple yet beautiful, and the music, while repetitive, fits the game perfectly.

The gameplay in Nin2-Jump is a bit reminiscent of N+ or Super Meat Boy. Each level can be completed within a few minutes each, with emphasis on speed-running, and in order to complete a level, you must collect a set amount of ninja scrolls to open up the exit. The game scores you based on your performance at the end of each stage with an S, A, B, C, or D ranking, in typical Cave fashion. The first couple of worlds consist of just platforming with a few hazards thrown in for good measure, but as the game goes on, it begins to throw enemies at you as well. By the games end, you will be tasked with some pretty intense platforming, seemingly unfair obstacles, and relentlessly spawning enemies.


In order to fight back against these enemies, you can hit the right bumper to activate your ninja power. When activated, Nin-ja essentially has the star power-up from the Super Mario games. He is immune to damage from enemies, but can still take it from spikes and other traps. His ninja power rapidly decreases while it is active, as shown in a bar on the upper right side of the screen, and can be restored by picking up new ninja scrolls. Thankfully, it regenerates itself for some strange reason in the final world.

There are boss battles at the end of each world, and they are very fun ordeals. One boss is a ninja who has a volcano for a head... tell me that's not the best thing you've ever heard. Every boss is in Nin2-Jump is huge and intimidating, and its actually fun trying to figure out their patterns. Surprisingly, and disappointingly, I actually found the bosses to be easier as the game went on though, as a result of Nin-ja gaining the ability to attack mid-way through the game.


The game has a story mode and a score attack mode, both of which offer endless re-playability. There are hidden Cave logo items in each stage that offer an achievement if you can find them all, which helps to add to the replay value as well. I know I'll personally be coming back to Nin2-Jump again and again. The game only costs 400 MS points (that's a measly $5), and until the end of June all of the proceeds from the game will go Japan's disaster relief fund. That alone makes buying this game worth it, but Nin2-Jump is an amazing platformer as well. GET IT!

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