Somewhere between Tenchu, Pac-Man and Bomberman lies NinjaBee’s mildly entertaining but ultimately shallow, Nutjitsu; a game that, if experienced in small doses, can be enjoyable, but one that quickly falls to pieces during extended play.
Using a top down view reminiscent of Bomberman, you, playing as a ninja-squirrel, are tasked with stealing away an array of acorns and scrolls from under the noses of the guarding samurai foxes. It’s a ridiculous premise, one which I fancy the name may well have come before the game, but either way, beyond the pleasant but largely pointless Japanese exterior, lies a game looking to marry the finest aspects of Bomberman and Pac-Man.
In fairness, NinjaBee doe a pretty good job of bringing these worlds together via a simplistic but nonetheless effective set of core mechanics that have you collecting items while avoiding the sharp senses of the defending foxes. Rather than chasing on sight, the defending foxes are able to sense the footprints you leave behind, thus giving the game a slightly unique edge in so much that you need to watch what you ‘were’ doing rather than what you ‘are’ doing. It’s a minor twist on the more conventional design, but at least it displays an attempt to bring something unique to a game that is otherwise happy to crib from other, superior titles.
Other than that though, everything else is relatively standard stuff. Each level has you chasing down a set number of acorns, controlling areas for a set period of time or collecting ninja scrolls (because squirrels like to read too). The amount required is based upon the difficulty level chosen with XP and coin rewards obviously falling in line with the difficulty level being played. The XP unlocks additional levels and eventually abilities while the coins received from picking up acorns allow you to purchase items that can mean all the difference when attempting to take on level 5 challenges. Be it speed boosts or smoke bombs, these items can be used to great effect if you find yourself backed in to a corner.
The stages themselves, while pleasant enough, lack variety, while on some of the levels, it’s occasionally hard to see where you can and can’t go. It’s hardly game breaking stuff, but in a game that can require split second reflexes, finding yourself stuck in a wall that, at a glance, looked like a path, can prove hugely infuriating.
Still, in terms of its moment to moment gameplay, Nutjitsu is an enjoyable amalgamation of a handful of arcade classics, but despite its simplistic, easy to pick-up gameplay, due to its odd structure, largely irrelevant XP and poor sense of progression, fails to provide the hook that makes its obvious inspirations as addictive and timeless as they are. With a complete lack of multiplayer to boot, I can’t quite shift the sense that, despite its more positive aspects, Nutjitsu represents a missed opportunity and an experience that falls well short of its underlying potential.
Nutjitsu is not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination and certainly enjoyable in the short term, Nutjitsu provides just enough arcade-style entertainment to keep you playing as long as the Achievements last (the 1000 Gamerscore is relatively easy to acquire). Sadly, unlike the Pac-Man’s of this world, NinjaBee’s latest doesn’t have that special something to keep you hooked in the long run and will ultimately provide little more than a fleeting distraction.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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