Welcome young grasshopper, you are invited to hone your mastery of Ninja’ness in the comfort of your own home. Fear not as all you need is a little wisdom and a Wii Remote to aid in your quest for enlightenment…
Alright enough of all that. The Nintendo Wii appears to be the system attracting the most gimmicks and mini-games and Ninja Reflex continues the trend with gusto. It does have one thing going for it though and that is the ninja atmosphere that is draped over every aspect. Let’s face it, it needs a strong theme to make it stand out as mini-games alone will not be enough to satisfy your yearnings for gaming entertainment.
So what do we have. Well alas just a simple selection of mini-games and not very much more. Believe it or not though, there is also a section for meditation. Yes that is right… You can meditate with your Wii. I shouldn’t mock it too much as it actually is a pretty decent attempt to help you relax and focus, just how many of us though will sit surrounded by modern technology instead of a flickering selection of candles is anyone’s guess.
Feeling refreshed? Well me neither, so on to the actual mini-games. With ninja grace, Ninja Reflex actually has a very nice presentation to it. You are led by a wise old sensei with the usual “wax on, wax off” standard and this sets a pleasant introduction to each category of mini-game you can select. Whether you decide to catch fish from the water with your bare hands or test your sword blocking and slashing skills is completely up to you. Once you have mastered the available tasks, pluck up the courage and aim for a belt to show your worth.
Testing your reactions, patience, decision making and perseverance, you will be able to progressively unlock further challenges within the same categories you began with, just with a slight twist here and there. Each mini-game surprises me as they are actually half decent, but there are too few of them. They won’t be winning any rewards, however as these types of game releases go, you can’t help but admire the cheekiness the developers have employed. Most of us feel the lure of honour and sacrifice with anything ninja related and the developers have wasted no efforts in pushing this fact in your face whenever possible and rightly so. The audio continues to immerse you in the overall presentation with convincing vocal work and music that fits the world we are meant to be inspired by.
The categories include Shuriken. Aiming the remote at the screen you wait for targets to appear, pressing the ‘B’ button will lock on to one of them and by flicking the Wii Remote, you release a shuriken. Further games include snatching flies with chopsticks, grabbing fish from the water, sword mastery with Katana, Hotari where timing is crucial and Nunchacku that encourages flinging your arms around in an object smashing exercise.
I suppose I had better explain about the sword section as this is going to grab your attention more than the others. The Wii Remote seems perfectly suited for this element. Waving it around like a real sword, blocking and slashing is surely something that is a win win situation for everybody. Alas not, as what you do with the Wii Remote doesn’t necessarily translate to what is happening on the screen. Fast reactions are required to successfully progress this particular task, but it can be very hit and miss (forgive the pun).
Staring at the environments, you will notice lovely water features, twinkly lighting and a soothing sense and pleasure of learning a craft without getting your feet wet. The ‘craft’ is pretty much useless in every day life so don’t expect to add it to your wall of certificates just yet.
Ninja Reflex may be part of an ongoing flood of mini-games appearing on the Nintendo Wii, but the half decent selection followed by the cleverness of employing a ninja theme do help things along, trouble is not for very long. Although enlightenment is just around the corner, the tasks fizzle out before things really start to get interesting and by that I mean the lack of content will niggle the ninja inside you.
Full of charm and delightful presentation, Ninja Reflex falls depressingly short by skimping out on more multiplayer options and even the single player leaves you feeling short changed especially when it hovers around the £25 mark. If you really want to earn the black belt in ninja mastery, you may have to make do with half the material and drooping trousers for your efforts as Ninja Reflex is painfully lacking that extra mile. A case of “Wax On…” and well… they have forgotten the rest.