Cat 'n' Slash
Developer: eastasiasoft Ltd Release Date: 18 December 2012 Review Platform: iOS
What better way to kick off 2013 than with a game I should’ve reviewed last year? Yes, I know you’re thinking, ‘There are about 47 billion better ways to start 2013’, but work with me here. It’s a new year, and a new (old) start.
That’s ‘last year’ as in last week by the way, not a whole 12 months ago. I couldn’t get this review done in time because my wife wanted a Bentley for Christmas and I was dashing round London trying to find her one at an affordable price. I didn’t manage to by the way. She got a pair of socks instead.
So, ‘Ninja Sprint’ is an endless runner which is not entirely endless, which is to say, it has set levels. You play as Neko, a stray female cat who has attained supernatural ninja powers after being struck by lightning. During this shocking time, Neko also transformed from all cat to half human. Discounting the human part (I’m already one of those…I think), I might run outside naked next time there’s a storm if this is what happens. I'd quite like to be a ninja.
Your job is to do what a human/ cat hybrid does: slaughter ancient monsters and steal their money by sprinting across multiple stages. Levels are pretty short, although there’s a heck of a lot of them (80 in total), and they all consist of running, sliding underneath and jumping over platforms and chasms, as well as turning enemies into a pile of guts. I’m being literal there. You’ll see.
Yoga saves lives.
Controls are handled with simple taps on three areas of the screen: bottom right to jump, bottom left to slide, and top left to unleash a smart-bomb attack. You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned a button for a regular attack, that my eagle-eyed friends, is because there IS no button for a regular attack! Haha! Quite ingenious! Regular attacks are automatic you see – as you sprint through each level, enemies that crowd you are dispatched with a swipe of your ninja blade without you having to press anything. This makes the game a mix of runner, auto-slasher (is that even a game type?) and platformer. That sound like a lot? You should be able to handle it, you’re a ninja.
This being an auto-runner, you’d be well within your rights to expect a bit of running. Good thing there’s plenty of that here then. In fact, with the running and the sliding, and the jumping, and the collecting of coins and the slashing and the jumping…did I mention that already? Well, everything soon becomes a ballad of tricky fingers and fast reflexes. There may be only three buttons, but once the game starts throwing chasms, snowballs and gates to jump, along with platforms which can be slid under or leaped, as well as all those shiny coins to collect, you’ll soon find yourself sliding when you should’ve jumped and vice versa.
Cool or be cooled.
It’s at this point after the first few levels (which are almost irritatingly easy), that each successful play through becomes an art in the hypnotic jump, slide, jump, jump, slash rhythm. It’s a good thing too that the controls are responsive, although the smart-bomb button isn’t in the optimal place if you ask me. Sometimes the pace of the game is so fast you feel as though the scrolling screen is going to leave you behind. In these cases, taking that extra quarter of a second to move your thumb up to the top of the screen can result in a monster clawing your face off. To be fair though, there isn’t anywhere else they could’ve effectively put it. I was going to suggest a double tap on the jump button, but that makes you double jump, natch.
‘Ninja Sprint’ has a simple, in-your-face graphical style which is full of bold lines and even bolder colours. Animation is basic, but it doesn’t really need to be anything more, and the aforementioned smart bombs fill the entire screen with their effects nicely. There’s also a fair amount of gore for a game of this type; that’s not to say you’ll see disembowelment or decapitations, but those cute-looking monsters don’t just vanish with a puff of smoke , instead they explode into a red, sticky mess. Not exactly the most offensive thing you’ve ever seen, but it might strike you as a little incongruous for a game of this type. You can always turn off the gore though, and you can even replace it by using coins to purchase alien or flower blood instead. If you’re wondering what flower blood actually is, it’s exactly what it says on the tin.
Martin Lawrence wants his catchphrase back.
A great retro arcade soundtrack is also on offer here. If you’re one who pays particular attention to the music, you’ll find this a treat. Combined with the zippy sound effects, ‘Ninja Sprint’ scores good marks for audio.
There are a couple of niggles however. Despite the fact there are 80 levels on offer, these are split into only four worlds. This means you’re going to have to play up to 20 of the same background before moving onto a new one. If you’re a bit of a video game magpie, this may irritate you. The shop is also a little lacking in enticing items. There are a few power ups available, but I wish there were a whole host of more imaginative ones, especially smart bomb variants as their graphical effects are nice and chunky, although any game with a ‘Fart Attack’ cannot be sniffed at. Hahaha. I just realised what I did there…’sniffed’ at. I don’t mean to be this funny you know.
So if playing a half cat/ half human ninja slasher sounds like your kind of thang, you know what to do. It certainly beats running naked into a storm. Just.