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Why You Should Keep Your Eye On Ninjala

(Presented by GungHo Entertainment) Ninjala is the newest "morphing ninja gum action" free-to-play brawler heading to Nintendo Switch! Here's what you need to know.

Dressing entirely in black, moving silently in the shadows, infiltrating castles and assassinating feudal lords? Please, says Ninjala, it’s all so 15th Century. The modern ninja has stepped out of the shadows, content to wear bunny ears and hip-hop-ninja fusion fashion while loudly smashing rivals with a hammer made of drums. Oh, and they also chew a special kind of gum that unlocks the latent ninja abilities buried in their DNA, but that’s beside the point.

Actually, no, that’s entirely the point.

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The Nintendo Switch-exclusive Ninjala is, quote, a “morphing ninja gum action game”, and if that’s not a sub-genre you’re familiar with it’s because nobody is familiar with a morphing ninja gum action game. So what is it, exactly?

Ninjala is an ultra-stylish, eight-player, online, free-to-play combat extravaganza where the goal is simple: beat the rest to be the best. And by beat, we really mean beat, using a variety of katanas, hammers, yo-yos and yes, gum. But this gum isn’t your garden variety Hubba Bubba or Dubble Bubble--no, it’s Ninja-Gum, a revolutionary creation that would make Willy Wonka envious.

Like most Willy Wonka creations, however, it comes with a catch: if adults chew it, they become kids, but it’s a minor con compared to the myriad of pros. Ninja-Gum not only unlocks latent ninja talents, but it’s also a flexible combat tool: blow a bubble and you can fire it off as a projectile, use it as a shield, or even turn it into a melee weapon. Yep, those katanas, hammers and yo-yos I mentioned before? All gum. Don’t question it, just enjoy the ride.

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With the whole assassinating rival clans thing very much frowned upon these days, modern ninja founded the World Ninja Association to showcase their skills in tournament play instead. Their preferred method of competition? A Battle Royale, which in Ninjala parlance means an eight-player free-for-all showdown where successful strikes, KOs and special ‘IPPON’ KOs all count towards your score. End a bout with the highest score, and you win. Easy? Not quite.

Ninjala battles are fast, relentless and extremely vertical. Arenas are multi-tiered and a breeze to navigate thanks to double jumps, gum dashes and every ninja’s go-to technique, the wall run. There’s even a hint of MOBA to the action, as players race to destroy drones around the arena to amass the Shinobi Energy required to blow bigger bubbles and create massive weapons.

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The ninja-on-ninja combat is about striking fast, striking hard and knowing when to make a quick getaway. There are no complex combos to master, but reflexes and situational awareness are key, because you are one and they are seven. The big points are reserved for IPPON KOs, which are achieved by landing big hits or by taking your opponents out with special ninjutsu techniques leaving them a humiliated, gum-covered mess with a finishing combo.

The 12 weapons available at launch fall into three categories--the aforementioned katana, hammer and yo-yo classes--but the differences between same-class arms are far more than aesthetic. The gum ability, that is the effect of firing off a ball of gum, changes from weapon to weapon, ranging from standard projectiles to chip-damage inflicting traps. The same is true of special abilities and the aforementioned Ninjutsu, spectacular ultimate attacks that trigger guaranteed IPPONs when they land.

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Ninjala is, as mentioned, free-to-play, which means you can play as long as you want, with all weapons unlocked and you don’t even need a Nintendo Online subscription to do so. Of course, if you did want to spend some money there are plenty of reasons to do so, including a wide array of stylish headwear, face accessories and costumes, as well as single-use aesthetic weapon mods and emotes. You can buy them with Jala, the in-game currency, which you can purchase with real-life money.

There’s also the Ninjala Pass, a seasonal pass that rewards you with costumes, emotes, stickers, Ninja Medals and even more Jala for completing tiers. If you manage to reach Tier 100, you’ll have earned enough free Jala to purchase the next season’s pass.

Ninjala’s unique brand of morphing ninja gum action is sticking exclusively with Nintendo Switch, and you can download it from the Nintendo eShop right now.