Bite-sized Gameplay, Full-meal Price
Note to self: Stop buying EA-published games.
Ninja Reflex is another great example of why so many people have a negative opinion of EA. The game exhibits some really inspired elements, along with a pleasing presentation, but you never feel like you've quite gotten your money's worth.
You can almost think of Ninja Reflex (NR) as a daily regimen, much like Brain Age or similar games. There are six mini games in NR, and by playing them, you earn gems, which allow you to enter a belt test. Pass the belt test, and you then unlock new variations of the six mini games. The six minis?
• Shuriken: boards move across the screen, when they flip – if it's a ninja – tap on the ninja, and then swipe the lower half of your touch screen to shoot him with a shuriken.
• Catch the fireflies: catch fireflies.
• Catch the coy: catch coy.
• Catch flies.
• Defend against and attack oni (Japanese for demons, I believe).
• Hit stuff with your rotating nunchuks.
There are several variations of each mini game, and they're all pretty fun, actually. The look and sound of NR is also quite attractive, and it's a pleasant package, overall. But $30? Come on! Once you've finished all the exercises and earned all the belts there are to earn, your sensei – the old dude who guides you through the game – says something to the effect of, "nice job, now try again," and the game clears out. You can't go back and just play whatever mini-game exercises you want; you have to go through each as a regimen…again. It's the same for the first playthrough, though. You'll get a certain number of exercises to play, and then you'll have to earn a belt before you can play anymore. For a package that offers little more than a novelty to diddle with as something to pass the time, NR doesn't offer players much freedom to actually play with it.
There's also the issue of the top screen. It doesn't do anything. It looks pretty, yes – there's usually a nice-looking drawing, done to look like some ancient artwork -- but there's nothing of use going on up there.
And that's it. You'd think there'd be more to say about a $30 DS game, but EA only offers gamers a snack pack with this title, not a full meal. The touch-screen elements work fairly well, though there are some recognition problems occasionally. Overall, however, Ninja Reflex is a fun diversion that is way overpriced. It's the DS equivalent of one of those knick-knacks you'd buy as a conversation piece – one that never gets used past the first few days. It's fun, I admit, but nothing close to a value. If you see it in a bargain bin for $15 or less, I'd say give a try. Otherwise, take a pass.