Bowja 3: Ninja Kami is the latest point-and-click adventure from Pencilkids Games, and the third entry in the Bowja series. As the titular ninja, you use your cunning, skill, and handy bow-and-arrow to find an ancient artifact and save the Ninja Spirit, all along the way finding clever ways to defeat the evil purple ninjas who constantly impede you.
The game starts off like an Indiana Jones movie, with Bowja in a WWII-style prop fighter, following a convoy of trucks and jeeps through the desert. After a few well-aimed shots with his bow-and-arrow, he bowls down an enemy jeep and lands the plane on a flat-bed truck. He then battles his way to the front of the convoy to retrieve the ancient artifact and then return it to the Ninja Spirit. But there will be more obstacles to face, more ninjas, and even a giant robot. And even if you make it through this adventure unscathed, there is an entire bonus adventure awaiting your skillful attention.
The gameplay itself is very straight forward. Very simple point-and-click mechanics. Your mouse pointer changes when it rolls over something that you can interact with. The most common interaction for Bowja is firing his bow-and-arrow at something, and you will find that this is the answer to the majority of the puzzles in the game.
Analysis: The Bowja the Ninja point-and-click adventures from Pencilkids Games are, as you might expect, mostly kid friendly. Any violence is purely cartoon in nature. The evil ninjas fall off of moving vehicles, only to bounce up and come back at you. Instead of letting you hack them up ninja-style, your enemies go running for their little purple ninja lives. When you thwart their plans, they shake their little fists and explicative characters appear over their heads. It's all very cute, and makes for a very entertaining game.
Once you figure out the basic interactions (which you will in the first few moments of the game), you can walk through the story pretty unencumbered. If you do something wrong, the worst that happens is you get sent back to the start of the section. There are no lives to be lost, no life to drain. And if you end up getting really stuck for some reason, there is a complete walkthrough only a button-click away. The only limiting factor is a timer with ample supply. Of course, once you complete the game once, the challenge is to try and make it through as quickly as possible.
The animation and graphics in Bowja 3 are excellent. The ninjas are reminiscent of the tiny characters from classics Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder. You can even discern emotion from their little faces. The animation is very smooth, and helps to give the game a flowing feeling from one action to the next, to the point that if you know where to click ahead of time, the entire scene plays out almost seamlessly. The scenes themselves are also well drawn, and although they are at the same scale as your tiny ninja, the hotspots are fairly obvious. There is no pixel-hunting here, a source of frustration for many point-and-click adventurers.
Although short on game, the charm of the graphics, animation, and overall feeling of the game more than make up for it. Bowja's latest adventure won't take long to complete, but you'll enjoy the ride while you're there.