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An Action Adventure-y, Platformer-y game from Eidos, the same company behind the Tomb Raider franchise (and developed by Io Interactive, makers of Hitman). While the cute title and ads set the game up as an Affectionate Parody of the "swords and black suits" genre, the game is actually a straightforward Japanese fantasy. For kids.
Three hundred years ago, a dark force rose up and attempted to Take Over the World. Abusing a mystical force known as Kuji Magic, it transformed innocent forest animals into dark soldiers and ravaged the land. The abuse of this force also imbalanced the forces of nature, causing natural disasters. But he was defeated, and his dark magic sealed away forever. Peace reigned.
Or... what they thought was forever. Natural disasters are suddenly returning. And what are these mysterious samurai-like soldiers appearing everywhere? The wise old Ninja Master decides to send out his pupils one by one to investigate, and one by one, they vanish. Soon, he is left with only two ninja: Promising but untrained Hiro, and clumsy but strong Futo. They are not truly ready for the world, but given the dire straits, they're the only hope the world has. Luckily, although their friends have been taken hostage, they're unharmed, and can be rescued. And they'll have to be if the balance of nature is to be restored!
The game combines action-adventure combat and exploration with platforming, with a large number of weapons, spells, and items to use, as well as six different ninja characters, each with different abilities. And despite what you might think, they're all normal-sized, thank you very much. (Well... except for Futo.)
This game provides examples of:
- Action Girl: The roles of Suzume and Kunoichi.
- Animorphism: Hiro can become animals by possessing them with his Spirit Form. They're not all useful, but they can at least all find herbs.
- Annoying Arrows: Both played straight and averted. Played straight in that enemy arrows aren't very damaging to you, and are easily warded off with your hat or a Flask of Arrow-Shield. Averted in that Shun's arrows are as deadly as their real-life counterparts, unless (of course) fired in melee combat.
- These become far more annoying later on, where the enemies launch rocket arrows at you, which do more damage and knocks you on your back.
- The Archer: Well, Shun uses a bow, but otherwise, he averts pretty much every archer-related trait in the book by being the most wild and erratic ninja. Except for the "Being lousy in melee combat" bit.
- Arrows on Fire: The enemies can do this, and an exploding arrow is Shun's special move. However, enemies also have explosive arrows, and they can become quite annoying, as they can effectively juggle you with hits.
- Badass Adorable: Ninjas.
- Big Eater: Futo, even as a baby, was known for his monsterous appetite. Tora is one as well.
- Blade on a Stick: Kunoichi's main weapon, as well as the weapon of choice of the Samurai Spearman.
- Bullfight Boss: The first boss.
- Bilingual Bonus: The spell incantations are in Japanese, and if left alone, some of the characters will babble Japanese if left idle, such as Suzume saying, "Where are they...?"
- Character Select Forcing: Given that Hiro is the only magic-user, it seems reasonable that you'd rely on him a lot. But why is he the only character who can fish?
- Cool Boat: Your hat actually becomes one, and is easier than swimming.
- Door Step Baby: Most of the ninja, except for Hiro, were left by the entrance to Ninja Mountain and raised by the Ninja Master.
- Drop the Hammer: Futo. According to his backstory, it was the only weapon that seemed to suit his fighting style and body type.
- Fartillery: The second boss.
- Fighter, Mage, Thief: The first three ninja characters are this: Futo's the Fighter, Hiro's the Mage, and Suzume is the Thief. (Although she doesn't use ranged attacks, she does rely on speed and trickery.)
- Fishing Minigame
- Gratuitous Japanese: Though, given the setting, maybe not that gratuitous.
- Heroic Mime: The characters do talk from time to time (e.g. cast a spell or Suzume's idle chatter), but not during cutscenes.
- Hiro Prefers A Sword
- Hundred-Percent Completion: When you finish a level, you're ranked on your completion of it, including herbs collected and money found. But while things like Jinzo statues and spells stay collected, herbs and money respawn. (Thank goodness, or else there'd be a lot of Inventory Management Puzzle going on.)
- Hyperactive Metabolism
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Shun.
- Improbable Weapon User: Fear Suzume, and the beatdown she hands out with her mighty... flute? Subverted. It's really a blowgun.
- Inevitable Waterfall: One level ends in you riding your hat-boat over one. Which would be fine (Soft Water is in full effect here), but its appearance is heralded by Psycho Strings.
- Instrument of Murder
- Item Crafting: Herbs can be combined to make potions of various sorts.
- Ki Attacks: Kuji magic utiliizes Ki energy.
- Kid Hero: The "Mini" part of "Mini Ninjas."
- Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Pike-using Samurai can't be melee attacked at all without stunning them first, and go down better to long-range weapons, anyway.
- Magic Music: Suzume's flute can paralyze enemies with its song, leaving them open to a One-Hit Kill.
- Meaningful Name: The main character's name is Hiro. Very subtle.
- There's also the tiger-like Tora.
- Nice Hat: It's your shield, essentially. And it doubles as your Cool Boat.
- Ninja: ...We'll let you figure this one out.
- No Arc in Archery: Averted, actually--both for Shun's arrows and the enemies'.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The Tengu and the Ninja Master speak with a sort of "kung-fu movie" accent, but they occasionally lapse into a more genuine Japanese accent.
- Sealed Good in a Can: Kuji magic, which was sealed in shrines.
- Stock Sound Effects: The same sound effect used to note you have found something shiny is here used for when you have found fruit-bearing trees or bushes.
- Speaking Simlish: The samurai babble in unintelligible English/Japanese/Nonsensese. Everyone else speaks perfect English or Japanese.
- Variable Mix: The game mostly uses ambient flute and drum/woodblock music, but certain areas (such as temples) and set pieces make the music evolve.
- Wutai: Pretty much the whole setting, give or take, uh... the entire game.
- Youkai: Your primary allies are the Tengu, though here, they literally look like giant anthropomorphic crows. This is actually mythologically accurate, as mythological tengu were often said to protect deep forests and mountains, and were said to have instructed ninja.