Game Review: Atomic Ninjas (PS Vita)

Atomic Ninjas PS Vita

Atomic Ninjas is an action platform game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita and PS3. Atomic Ninjas is an action oriented multiplayer party game that fuses together well with the platform genre.

There are nine game modes ranging from the standard fare to the more imaginative including: deathmatch; team deathmatch; capture the flag; team capture the flag; treasure hunt; domination; king of the hill; objectives; and team objectives with each of the nine game modes having three available time limits of five, ten or fifteen minutes. The team based game modes allow you to team up with an A.I. controlled bot and take on two bots from the opposing team with both teams vying to achieve the appropriate objectives or score before the other team.

There are six levels to choose from including: Wormhole; Reaktor; Factory; Infernus; Spooky; and Cave with each of the six levels available for selection in combination with any of the nine game modes. The levels are unique in their design and contain their own hazards, such as fire; water; Ninja Launchers that will bounce you or an enemy anywhere from a short distance to a huge distance, which can sometimes be helpful when you need to make a quick escape from an enemy that has you cornered or it can be dangerous as they can transport you in the direction of a hazard; moving obstacles that can catch you off guard and can be troublesome if you do not have the rocket super ability to get yourself out of that narrow circumference before an enemy starts to attack you; and there are more hazards besides.

There are thirty Ninja Trials that provide additional objectives to your quick matches and online multiplayer matches with objectives including killing three players using Shurikens; killing three players using a punch; and stealing another player’s weapon, amongst many more.

There are seven ninjas to choose from, which are progressively unlocked as you improve your rank including: Rogue Ninja who is available from the start; The Very Last Samurai who is unlocked when you reach rank 2; Masked Ninja who is unlocked at rank 5; Old Monk who is unlocked at rank 9; Sergei The Ninja who is unlocked at rank 14; Psycho Ninja who is unlocked at rank 19; and Zombie Ninja who is unlocked at rank 25. Each of the seven ninjas have their own description providing a background for that particular character, while it is a good addition; it would have been great to see each character related story unfold, rather than reading text.

There are eight super abilities to choose from including: Camouflage which is available from the start; Super Punch which is available when you have completed three Ninja Trials; Extra Shurikens which is available when you have completed six Ninja Trials; Sprinter which is available when you have completed nine Ninja Trials; Quick Respawn which is available when you have completed thirteen Ninja Trials; Extra Jump which is available when you have completed seventeen Ninja Trials; Four-Leaf Clover which is available when you have completed twenty-one Ninja Trials; and Rocket Man which is available when you have completed twenty-six Ninja Trials. Each of the super abilities provides a unique power and with that an individual purpose and a separate strategy, so in the case of the Camouflage you will become transparent and harder to detect if you stand still, while Sucker Punch will make your punch stronger.

You will earn XP and AP after every match that will enable you to improve your super abilities loadout. XP allows you to level up your ranking, while AP points upgrades the super ability you are currently using.

The enemies are presented in the form of robots, but look pretty much the same as each other with the only discerning features being different colours allowing you to tell the enemies apart. That is disappointing as I would have hoped for as much detail to be invested in the enemy design as I would for the level design.

While it is a huge positive that there is so much customisation available; you can’t help but feeling that the game would benefit from a story mode in addition to the customisable game modes and Ninja Trials on offer. It instead leaves the game with the feel of a party game, rather than providing any sort of real structure, although it could perhaps be argued that Atomic Ninjas is striving to be a party game.

The game has elements of comedy throughout its limited narrative, which is immediately clear to see with your mentor in the tutorial calling your character “A clumsy fat teenager”, claiming “You need exercise” and calling you a “Good monkey” when you have completed certain elements of the tutorial. The speech bubbles are always presented in the Japanese equivalent of broken English with a couple of highlights from your mentor in the tutorial including, “Careful! You fly on rocket too long – Rocket go boom!” and “Ninja like shadow – Invisible! Ninja must disappear like fart in hurricane. You hide here! No move!”

Atomic Ninjas supports cross-buy and cross-save between the Vita and PS3. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing both the Vita and PS3 versions of the game with just a single purchase. The cross-save functionality allows you to sync the progression of your save file from your Vita to your PS3 and vice versa, so you can start playing the game on your Vita on the way to and from work, sync your save game when you return home and then resume were you left off by loading the save game and continuing via the PS3 version. The cross-save feature is made possible by uploading your save file to the cloud on one console and downloading it from the other console.

The controls are easy to learn as they are well mapped to the face buttons. The control scheme consists of pressing R to use your weapon power-up; L to use your movement power-up; X to jump with an additional press of the X button during mid-flight of the jump to perform a double jump; square to collect a new power-up; changing the direction of the left analogue stick moves your character; changing the direction of the right analogue stick positions the area you will fire your power-up; and start to display the pause menu.

The graphics have a Japanese oriental flavour with a twist of a cel shaded effect that all blends together with a colourful and bright colour palette that make the graphics stand out, while providing an element of charm throughout the game.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface that is navigated by the face buttons with support for the left analogue stick and directional pad across various menus such as the main menu, online multiplayer menus, quick match menus and options menu, although there is no support for navigation via the right analogue stick, touch screen and rear touch pad. The background of the main menu screen is colourful with the Atomic Ninjas logo to the top left and a ninja standing atop a mountain on the bottom right of the screen.

The audio is pretty good as it mixes together many different sound effects with a fusion of pop and dance music. The sound effects range from the various super abilities being inflicted on opponents and your character and the Ninja Bots proclaiming, “Next target acquired!”, “Mission accomplished”, “Error” or groaning when they have been strongly hit by an opponent.

The trophy list includes twelve trophies with seven bronze trophies, four silver trophies and one gold trophy. There are a couple of easy trophies that you will naturally earn as you progress through the game, such as the Fresh out of school bronze trophy for completing the Ninja Academy, which is essentially a tutorial and the Ninja costume party bronze trophy for unlocking a new ninja, which you will unlock once you have reached rank 2. There are some harder trophies that will take you longer to earn, such as the Overpowered silver trophy for fully upgrading a super ability; the Trials and tribulations silver trophy for completing all of the Ninja Trials; and the Atomic Ninja gold trophy for reaching rank 30. The trophy list mostly comprises of online trophies, which hinges upon whether you have enough players as you will need at least one human opponent to play against or whether you have no connection issues when trying to join an online multiplayer match. If you have enough friends to play against; then the online multiplayer trophies can easily be boosted, but if you do not have anyone to boost the online trophies with, then you may find them a little harder. I would estimate depending upon skill, up to three boosting partners to play against for the online trophies and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between five to ten hours to 100% the trophy list.

There are no difficulty levels, but between having three enemies in individual play or two enemies in co-operative play, alongside the various hazards and obstacles; the game certainly provides unpredictable results in which you can find yourself or your team finishing anywhere in the scoring of each and every match.

The PS3 and Vita versions both feature online multiplayer for two to four players with support for all of the nine game modes and six maps from the quick match single player with the option of adding bots to fulfil the requirement of four players, although at least two human players must be taking part in order for the game to start, while the PS3 version also features split-screen multiplayer for two to four players with all of the same content as the online multiplayer. The fast and frenetic pace of the single player gameplay translates well to the online multiplayer with fun gameplay that never tires and never gets old, which is really where the design choice to focus on online multiplayer and a party game vibe really comes into its own. The only negative for the online multiplayer is that you will come up against some occurrences of failed connections, while in lobbies as you attempt to connect to a game, although this is possibly due to the host of the lobby cancelling the game.

The online leaderboards focuses on top players, your position and top friends with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); and XP with the positioning of each player based upon the amount of XP they have earned. While using XP points is an adequate way of measuring the positions of the leaderboards; I thought there would have been various leaderboards covering such details as the amount of kills for each player.

The replayability of Atomic Ninjas stems purely from the customisation of the game as the customisable elements and the competitive nature of the game combine together to provide unpredictable results in each battle against the artificial intelligence during a quick match or human opponents and A.I. opponents in online multiplayer, which certainly produces enough to keep everything feeling fresh and will have you coming back for another try for a long time to come.

Overall, Atomic Ninjas is a fun and fast paced party game that really needs to be enjoyed, especially with friends in the split-screen multiplayer on PS3 and the online multiplayer on Vita and PS3. You are guaranteed to have fun with Atomic Ninjas, but at the exceptionally low price of just £3.19 for the Indie Bundle which comes packaged with Foosball 2012; you really cannot go wrong with investing your money and time in Atomic Ninjas.

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Atomic Ninjas
  • Publisher: Grip Games
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: Yes
  • Cross Play: Yes (Cross-Save/Online Multiplayer)
  • Online Multiplayer: Yes (PS3/Vita: 2-4 Players Online/PS3: 2-4 Players Split-Screen/Online Leaderboards)
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 107Mb


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