Coffee is great. Without coffee I’m a sluggish shell of a man. Give me coffee and things are just great. I can run fast, type fast, think fast, be fast, I am fast. Then the coffee wears off…and things… just become hard…. And frustrating. The simplest of things become painful and my attention span… What was I typing again? This perfectly describes my experience with Super Hyperactive Ninja on Nintendo Switch. A charming, but frustrating platformer. Great in small bursts, but frustrating and a slog to play for long period of times.
Super Hyperactive Ninja puts you in the shoes of a ninja whose health and energy bar is fuelled solely on the power of coffee. The controls are simple, you move with the left stick, jump with b, use an ability with A and run by holding R and that’s all you’re going to need. That doesn’t mean this is a breeze. The game offers difficulty options of Latte (easy), Black (medium) and Bitter (hard) but you’ll still be tested on easy mode as it only offers one extra life. Super Hyperactive Ninja falls into the speed runner favoured genre influenced by games such as Super Meat Boy and N++. Games in which you play as a fast, yet very mortal character as you navigate tricky obstacles and enemies. You need a great deal of accuracy in your jumps and movement or you’re gonna be stuck doing the same sections over and over. Super Hyperactive Ninja however, provides you with a handful of abilities as you progress through the game, as well as the hyperactive mode which adds a new layer of fun to the genre.
In hyperactive mode, the visuals and audio join hands and thrust your ninja forward allowing them to dash, wall jump and vanquish enemies from behind. It added an exhilarating layer of tension, darting through levels and narrowly making jumps. Dodging and killing enemies in one swoop made for a fluid experience, leaving me accomplished in these small runs; at first anyway. The hyperactive mode, whilst adding a frantic layer to the game, has a downside in the form of the hyper irritating cool down animation. When you land a narrow thrilling run of dodging every ghost, samurai and ninja you think you’re safe. Your ninja pants and you quickly notice there’s an extra enemy. Game over buddy. You’re immobilised after using hyperactive and it can result in frustrating deaths that feel unjustified. Usually, it’s not your fault that you die because of an obscurely placed enemy. As a result of this you’ll want to be constantly changing between hyperactive and normal mode due to the clockwork walking pattern of enemies and the cooldown. It starts to become a chore when you have to keep repeating the same areas with this stop and start playstyle, because when hyperactive mode works, your ninja feels kinetic and fun to play with. My time with the game during these constant deaths felt like isolated moments of pure hell as a result of this. If you die in Super Meat Boy and N++ the death feels justified. It was your bad, you just plain suck. It was very much half and half in Super Hyperactive Ninja. It started to feel like pot luck half the time whether I’d survive when leaving hyper mode.
Content wise this game has a campaign of roughly 5 hours with gruelling post game levels that provides an even harder challenge. Each level grades you at the end on your time, score and deaths, allowing perfectionists plenty of replay ability if they want that 100%. Borrowing from Mario’s world design, You’re tasked to navigate different castles to save the legendary coffee from an evil ninja. At the end of each castle is a boss, defeating them unlocks a new ninja. These characters have different strengths and weaknesses as well as bringing in a new ability to start the level with. Each ninja can now pick up these power ups within levels. This results in some serious multitasking shenanigans. The moments of action between the checkpoints can be really thrilling as you dash across water like a rabid jesus dodging old men’s balls of energy or Vanquishing flames with the freeze ability making sure to time your jumps perfectly away from an adorable dog of death or a sumo donkey kong. Again though, it could still chalk down to luck how often you can pull off these satisfying runs.
The level designs were great and the puzzles although simple for the most part, became quite creative once you gain more abilities. I loved the 8-bit jingles and it had some great boss music. The backgrounds were a tad dull and uninspiring, but that wasn’t a big deal. The enemies as you progress become increasingly weirder but hilarious to look at. The boss battles were fun but could be easily exploited by waiting in certain areas of the level and getting all 3 hits without being in danger.
Overall, my time with Super Hyperactive Ninja was very mixed. I enjoyed 20 minute sessions here and there, but any more than that and my blood started to boil. It had some fun moments, but by the end my frustrations with the cool down ability and the emphasis on patience in later levels spoiled my experience entirely. If you have the patience of a saint and want a short quirky little adventure, then go ahead.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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