What is more disappointing? A terrible game that has no redeeming values? Or a terrible game that has the potential to be a good game, but squanders those hopes and dreams? Yasai Ninja belongs in the latter. I was honestly a little excited for this game when I saw it was on Steam Greenlight. You might think that is odd, but once you see how much garbage is on Steam Greenlight, a 3D competently-made-looking game with a few clunky elements is like a blessing! I then saw it was going to be on the PlayStation 4, and got in contact with the developer. I received a PlayStation 4 review code from them and, yeah, I would say that I was disappointed. Again, it hurts to say this game is underwhelming because there are so many elements that could have led to something of an unexpected indie surprise like Rocket League. Now then, shall we actually review Yasai Ninja?
So, what is this story about? Well, a samurai onion learns that his leader is about to go on an evil rampage. With the help of a broccoli ninja, the two set out to stop the shogun’s army from taking over the world. This description might seem brief, but there is barely a story to the overall game, and the characters are pretty simple, and they don’t evolve much throughout the game. Now then, let’s talk about the gameplay.
Yasai Ninja is an action platformer with puzzles and co-op gameplay. You can either play as the broccoli ninja or the samurai onion going through 10 levels of fighting samurai cucumbers and a sumo-wrestling cauliflower. Each of the two characters have their own abilities, like the broccoli can mess with some contraptions, and the onion can move objects. From time to time, the game will split off from the 3D platforming, puzzles, and fighting, by throwing you into these fast platforming sections where you run and jump like you are in some kind of endless runner game. You can play this game in single-player or with a buddy, though finding someone to play this game with you will be a challenge.
The one redeemable element about Yasai Ninja is the presentation. The character designs are charming and well done. I know there are the occasional graphical issues, but the game still looks solid and stylized. Too bad that is all I have to say about the presentation.
Holy cow, let’s start with the list of problems this game has. Let’s begin this waterfall of problems with the glitches. Besides the graphical glitches like flickering and major slowdown, the platforming glitches can end up killing you. I swear I can count with 5 pairs of hands how many times the other character has teleported below my character and caused me to fall into the watery death traps during platforming segments. I even ran into a show-stopper bug after fighting a boss that was solved by pausing the game and then unpausing. It seems like no one tested this game or played it, because the designers obviously didn’t think to fix the horrible camera. It gets caught on so many freaking areas, and since there are so many tight corridors, you won’t be able to control it to where you can get a perfect view of what you need to see. As an experienced QA tester, this drove me crazy. Oh, and points are detracted from this game for basically no sound effects or anything when doing, well, anything! Seriously, this game is so quiet when it shouldn’t be. Sometimes the sound would kick in, but for very short periods of time, and even then, they would come out of nowhere. The controls are stiff, and platforming seems clunky. Instead of feeling fluid and satisfying like Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Yasai Ninja makes me worry about whether that I am going to make it onto the platform every time I jump. If you are curious, 60% of the time I failed because of the controls and camera. Speaking of controls, let’s talk about the mediocre combat. Have you ever played a game like Bayonetta 2 or Anarchy Reigns? You know how those games made you feel powerful, and how enemies fell before you in super amazing ways that gave you a power fantasy of being awesome? Yasai Ninja does none of that. It’s flat, boring, simple, and the way you gain new abilities is never explained to you in the game. The game basically starts you with a one button combo, and even then, hitting enemies with said “attack” doesn’t give you positive player feedback. You don’t feel good fighting these enemies; you are too busy mashing the buttons so you can kill them faster. The bosses are forgettable and aggravating. Sure, seeing a sumo-wrestling cauliflower is kind of clever, but due to the combat, controls, and camera, they are not fun to play through. You want to know how long it took to beat one boss because of all of the terrible game design? It took 12 times. It took 12 separate tries to beat a boss because the game had poor design. That isn’t even counting how many times my AI-controlled partner got killed because I couldn’t get to him in time to give him some health, or some glitch prevented me to help him. I even lost because if your partner dies, you die. It is worse when you find out how unfairly the check points are handled. If you die during any point in the level, you will have to go about five or nine minutes back in time to do all of the tedious, boring, and terribly-designed elements just to get back to where you are. My final complaint is the setting. You have characters and enemies made of food, so why not make the rest of the world food-related and have food-focused weapons and levels? I mean, Bacon Mandoes that and it looks great. This results in the player being in one of the most forgettable settings I have ever seen. Oh, and the music is apparently only one song that loops. I liked the song, but not over and over again.
Holy cow, this game is simply not very good, and it could have been. There are obvious signs of effort put into it, but since the final product isn’t good, any effort put into the game will be forgotten among the infuriating game design. Sadly, this mediocre game wants double-digit numbers for its asking price. It’s $20 on the PlayStation 4 and about $15 on Steam. I cannot recommend Yasai Ninja. Just avoid it and play a good game. Get onto eBay and go buy yourself a copy of Mini Ninjas instead.
This game gets a 1 out of 10.