Switch Game Ninjala's Single-Player Story Mode Revealed
Exclusive: The developers of the bubblegum ninja-brawler for the Nintendo Switch explain the story mode with new gameplay and what's to come for the online game.
GungHo Online Entertainment's free-to-play ninja brawler, Ninjala, is shaping up as a quirky and unorthodox approach to 8-player multiplayer gameplay. While it has similar vibes to Nintendo's Splatoon, Ninjala leans heavily into its suite of bubblegum-based ninja powers that players can use to leap, wall-run, and fly across various maps to get the upper-hand against their enemies in battle. Ninjala's more significant focus is on its online gameplay; however, the developers have plans in store for a single-player story mode and new content beyond the game's launch on June 24 for the Nintendo Switch.
In an exclusive with GameSpot for our Play For All event, developer GungHo Online Entertainment has shared the first gameplay for Ninjala's story mode add-on for the free-to-play game, along with a trailer revealing what's to come in updates for the game in season 1. Ninjala's story mode will be a premium add-on for the free-to-play game. As of right now, the price for the single-player content hasn't been set.
With an evolving story told through comic book-style panels, you'll dive into standalone missions that have you use your ninja-gum powers to explore levels and battles foes. Playing the story mode will also earn you additional rewards, which can be used to customize and upgrade your characters for online battles. GungHo Online offered the first glimpses of Ninjala's narrative in the first episode of an animated short series earlier this year. The developers plan on keeping the plot progressing in the future. GungHo Online CEO and president Kazuki Morishita stated that the game's story and narrative would expand after its launch.
"We will gradually release a cartoon-style web anime that will shed light on the background stories of characters that did not appear in the 3D anime," said the president of GungHo Online. "Additionally, the single-player mode [which is additional paid DLC] is in the game that you can play offline called Story Mode. In this mode, the story is presented in a comic book style, and you can experience a playstyle that is completely different from the normal multiplayer battles. Depending on how well you play, you can receive Ninja Medals, which are used to grow Shinobi Cards as rewards. In the future, we plan to develop several cross-media promotions using various approaches such as 3D animation, cartoon animation, comics, and story mode updates."
As a live-service game, you'll be able to take part in online matches with other players to rank up, acquire new gear, and customize your particular character. At launch, Ninjala will begin its first season of content. This will focus on challenges and objectives to gain new skins and items for your chosen avatar along with the arrival of new multiplayer stages, events, and missions in the story mode. Furthermore, additional weapons will be added throughout the season, along with new Shinobi cards that offer passive buffs for your characters.
GungHo Online's previous free-to-play game was the dark roguelike Let It Die, which was developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, and it ended up being a surprise success. According to Morishita, Let It Die game helped pave the way for Ninjala, yet he wanted for GungHo's next game to be more accessible and family-friendly that focused more on expression.
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"We learned a lot from Let It Die, and with its presentation, we tried many experimental approaches which led to various successes and failures," said Morishita. "Without a doubt, those experiences were a great stepping stone for us. Interestingly, rather than learning more from its successes, we actually learned more from its failures. However, we designed Ninjala with a completely different F2P game cycle approach from LID. One of the things we learned from LID was about background music (in-game music). For LID’s background music, we had 101 bands from various genres to provide songs, and from the many songs, players were able to set their favorite music in-game. This was an experimental approach, but users highly valued it, so in Ninjala, when you rank #1 in battle, the song you set as background music will play for all the other players to hear. This allows you to express yourself in more ways besides just your avatar and costume."
The Nintendo Switch has been a surprisingly successful platform for online-focused games, including the likes of Fortnite, Warframe, and Tetris 99. Ninjala looks to occupy that same space with its colorful and cartoon-like approach to online brawler action. Still, the inclusion of evolving single-player offerings certainly makes it a more well-rounded package. As we approach the launch on Ninjala on June 24, more details about the Ninjala's release plans and post-launch content will be released.
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