Ninjin: Clash of Carrots | Review | PC

Ninjin: Clash of Carrots by Pocket Trap is a retro style indie side scrolling beat-em-up available now on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.

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The Shogun’s minions stealing the carrot crop

Ninjin takes place in a fantasy realm inspired by Feudal Japan and inhabited by animals. In the opening scene, the peaceful village of Usagi is attacked by the minions of the evil Shogun Moe who steal this year’s entire crop of carrots. The village shōya tasks two ninjas, Ninjin the rabbit and Akai the fox, with retrieving the carrots at any cost so the people won’t starve. Choose your ninja (or grab a friend for some co-op) and fight your way through the ranks of the Shogun’s armies, lieutenants, samurai, warlords, and eventually Shogun Moe himself to get back as many carrots as possible.

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Gear up for battle

 

Gameplay: The controls for Ninjin are fairly simple and perfectly responsive. While it allows use of either keyboard and mouse, or a controller, both have their advantages and disadvantages. The controller is nice for having everything right in your hands, but makes precision ranged attacks harder to execute. The keyboard and mouse setup is better for aiming ranged attacks, but makes dash attacks and movement a bit harder. Also the mouse cursor used to aim projectiles can easily get lost on the screen if there’s a large number of enemies. Overall the gameplay is well polished and smooth as butter.

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Fight through the frozen mountains

Sound: The soundtrack for Ninjin is very well done and it’s easy to hear the influence of retro games such as Zelda, Double Dragon, and even Mario. The game also has a large assortment of music, which keeps it from getting stale. The sound effects only serve to drag you further into the retro nostalgia of this game. Your character has a number of sounds for various weapons, attacks, and movements and that’s only the start. The many enemies each add their own movement and attack sounds into the fray, making for a symphony of commotion at times, but not to the point of being disruptive. One of my favorite sounds in the game is the burbling noise made as the text scrolls through the speech bubbles. I love that they chose this instead of having spoken lines because it pays homage to so many of the classics that this game pulled inspiration from.

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Spend your carrots at Corgi’s roadside shop

Visuals: The visual style of Ninjin is nothing short of spectacular, it perfectly combines ancient Japanese ukiyo-e art, old school video games, anime, and 2010 Cartoon Network. The level selection screen is an overworld map similar to Super Mario World, with new bits being revealed when you progress. As you travel from your village to the Shogun’s castle you ninja run through a number of scenic locations, including vast forests, snow covered mountains, the big city, and even a spooky graveyard. Each level has a bit of foreground, the path where the action takes place, and the background. The backgrounds are composed of multiple layers of cutouts making it look like scenery from a theatrical production or a painstakingly intricate pop-up book. Each new NPC and enemy that you encounter have their own unique look, weapons, and attacks to add to the palette of the game. Also you can unlock weapons and accessories to customize your character that range from authentic to hilarious and even downright bizarre.

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Some of the weapons are… interesting

Story: Ninjin’s plot borrows aspects from many familiar tropes and weaves them together in a way that, while not necessarily completely unique, is definitely enjoyable. After the opening sequence, most of the story is played out in cut scenes every so often in between levels, although occasionally bits of plot are interjected mid level by an NPC or enemy character. Most of the dialogue portions in the game are skippable, but I would say that they are worth taking the time to read as they are well written and quite amusing.

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Take down General Jam’s tank

Replay Value: I would say Ninjin has an upper middle range replay value as there are a decent number of things to keep you coming back. First off it has a good amount of stages of varying difficulties to fight through and depending on the enemies encountered you may need to rethink your strategy and change up your equipment before trying again. This of course could mean grinding through previous levels to “farm” enough carrots to buy something new from the store (pun intended). That brings us to the next reason: equippable items. There are over 200 unlockable weapons and accessories, most of which can have an impact on your stats and attributes and can give you the upper hand in the next boss fight, or get you a better rating on that last stage. Because when you do finish a level you are given a rating based on your performance, which is stored along with your best times, giving you reason to continue trying to better yourself. Also you can try your luck on The Oni TV Show, the game’s endless mode, which presents new challenges and has exclusive rewards that can only be unlocked by getting as far as possible. Last but not least is the fact that the game has local or online co-op so you can grab a friend and open up a can of carrot flavored whoop-ass on some baddies, just like the good old days.

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Co-op mode, now with twice the ninja goodness

Summary: I saw some promise when I first heard about Ninjin, so I was excited when the folks at Pocket Trap sent me a copy to do this review. I’m not sure what I expected the first time I fired it up, but I surely got more than I bargained for. As someone who grew up playing game series such as Ninja Turtles, Battletoads, Streets of Rage, and Double Dragon this game was a huge wave of nostalgia for me, although I feel that it’s modern aspects make it relevant in today’s market as well. So whether you’re an older gamer like me looking for a trip down memory lane, or a young gamer looking for something quick and new to play when the Fortnite servers are down, I would highly recommend this game.

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Win special rewards on The Oni TV Show

HYPERGUN | Review | PC

 

HYPERGUN by NVYVE Studios is a procedurally generated Neo-80s indie FPS roguelite available now on Steam and coming this fall to Xbox One and PS4.

HYPERGUN takes place in the not so far off future. In the year 2038 the Earth discovered that we are not alone in the universe when an advanced race of aliens brought war to our unprepared planet and occupied most of it. DevTech Labs is located in one of the few unoccupied cities and has been tasked with developing a super weapon (code name: HYPERGUN) to provide a chance of survival for what’s left of our troops. You play as Dewey Owens the new intern at DevTech Labs. Your job is to assemble and test out various HYPERGUN prototypes inside of a battle simulator to find the perfect weapon. You are quite literally humanity’s last hope against the alien horde.

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Don’t get swarmed!

Gameplay: The controls for HYPERGUN are mapped out well and for the most part follow the typical FPS layout. The game fully supports use of a controller, but I preferred keyboard and mouse as it felt to be more responsive for my play style. The keyboard controls are totally customizable so you can adjust them to whatever you want our are used to. The gameplay is quite fluid and there aren’t many glitches, although it is easy to get caught on something on the floor or trapped in a corner if you aren’t careful. Also I will warn anyone who gets sick easily, the motion can get dizzying at times so you may need to adjust the sensitivity to your liking.

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Enter the simulation

Sound: The soundtrack for HYPERGUN really stands out from the start and only gets better as you progress through the game. The music has a real Neo-80s vibe reminiscent of Tron and retro video games. Various levels, challenge rooms, and boss battles all have their own music. The music has a tendency to fade into the background during a hectic firefight, but you’ll catch yourself dancing around to it when things die down. The sound effects are also well done. You will quickly learn the sounds of the various enemies and traps to avoid being caught off guard by a horde of shamblers while engaging a squad of snipers, or jumping right into the path of a flame turret while trying to dodge a mage’s powerful blast. Many of the attachments you can find for your weapon have a unique sound as well, which is quite amusing when you have the corn attachment and you’re popping popcorn off the face of an angry alien.

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Welcome to the jungle

Visuals: At first glance HYPERGUN is just another basic shooter going from room to room killing enemies, without a lot of effort put into the visuals. But once you think about it you realize that the look is exactly what the makers of the game were going for, it adds to the Neo-80s vibe and you can again see the influence of Tron and other retro-futuristic movies and games. Also the further you get into the game the richer the visuals become. Each level has it’s own style ranging from factory to jungle (and even volcano) with rooms of various sizes and layouts providing new threats around every corner. There are also some unique and interesting creatures to face and challenging yet captivating boss fights. The main place where the visuals shine would be the weapon attachments found or unlocked throughout the game that are used to construct your HYPERGUN. There is a spectrum of these attachments each with its own look that when pieced together can give you all kinds of wacky yet deadly weapons.

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One of my wacky creations

Story: The plot of HYPERGUN doesn’t go very deep as the game focuses more on gameplay. Things inside the simulation are fairly straightforward, clear as many rooms as possible without dying, build your gun, kill the boss, on to the next level. But if you take some time to explore the DevTech offices outside of the simulator you will be rewarded with bits and pieces of life around the office and the outside world during the alien invasion, in the form of post it notes and emails scattered in various places.

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Explore the DevTech offices

Replay Value: The procedurally generated aspects of HYPERGUN give it a decent amount of replayability. Every run can have a different difficulty based on what attachments you discover, how many bits (in sim currency) you find to use in the store, the number of locked or unlocked treasure chests, whether or not you get a challenge room, and what the boss drops. Gotta love that sweet RNG! You can also find Hypercoins (out of sim currency) that can be used to add new attachments to the RNG pool (160 in total), unlock new classes, and gain new skills for your character. In addition to the starting class, The Intern (SMG), you can also unlock Security (assault rifle), The Lawyer (shotgun), and Human Resources (sniper rifle) , each with their own skills and attributes, making it easy to find one to fit your play style. In the simulation chamber you can view your best times for each level or a complete run, your top 5 HYPERGUN candidates, and tons of in game stats, making that push to better yourself a visible goal.

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Spheros is the first of many exciting boss battles

Summary: To be honest HYPERGUN turned out to be a lot more fun than I was expecting. The trailers seem to be a lot of hype (pun intended), but for the most part the game lives up to it. While it’s not going to overthrow any AAA shooters, it’s definitely worth its $15 price tag. I’ll note that the developers provided me with a review copy, but I would willingly pay for this game. At this point I have put roughly 10 hours into HYPERGUN and have only gotten about halfway through the listed levels, I’m not sure if that speaks to the difficulty of the game or my skill…

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R.I.P.