Swordless Ninja


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DoraSwordless NinjaOh! What joy to be a ninja! Yeah, we see it. You know what we're talkin' 'bout. Leaping across tree tops, spending all your time being lit by the most dramatic light possible, running across water... and then one day you get to be in a movie with Chris Tucker! Awwww yeah. From Berzerk Studio comes an epic tale of ninja, demons, and frogs wearing boxing gloves in Swordless Ninja, an utterly charming platform adventure that will make you believe in little red ninja all over again.

... you... do believe in little red ninja... don't you?

The little fellow in question is Mabushi, who leads an idyllic ninja life until his beloved Miyuki is carried off by a jealous demon lord. Which wouldn't be a problem, except Mabushi's sword has been stolen as well! Most ninja would give up and despair. But not Mabushi. He knows that all you really need to succeed is bravery, determination, and the ability to incapacitate any foe by stomping on their head. It's an ancient, honorable ninja tradition. Really!

For most of us, a lot about Swordless Ninja is going to look very familiar. Using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, you move Mabushi around the screen. If you jump against the side of a block or wall, hold [Z] or [K] and Mabushi will grab hold of the edge if it's within reach, letting you reach higher places. Leap on enemies to knock them out, then pick up and throw them with the [X] or [L] keys. Your goal is to reach the Yin-Yang symbol at the end of each level, but don't ignore the lucky coins, either. Collect one hundred of them and you'll get an extra life. They can be found everywhere, including inside the starred boxes which you can break open by jumping up into them.

Being a ninja, Mabushi is, of course, well-versed in the art of hop-stomping his foes into nothingness. (How else do you think ninja fight?) But hidden along the way are various power-ups to acquire that will enable him to shoot darts or shurikens, handy since some enemies like to be unpleasantly pointy up top. There's also a very special item that can make you invincible to all attacks... but not to falling off cliffs.

In addition to being a blast to play, Swordless Ninja is absolutely gorgeous. The big cheesy enemies, the cotton-candy pink clouds... Swordless Ninja manages to be easy on the eyes, while remaining easy on the processor at the same time. (If it seems like the game is playing too slowly to you, you can change the quality under the options.) Mabushi's little yips and yelps as he jumps around may start to slide from cute to annoying after a while, but these can be turned off via the options menu.

Swordless Ninja is a part of the new GamerSafe network. The new system allows you to play the same game on different portal sites, and it keeps track of your saved games and achievements no matter what site you play the game on. Account sign-up is free, and in addition to helping you keep track of your gaming prowess, it also enables you to start earning GamerPoints, and get GamerGold. GamerPoints are awarded for completing various achievements in your favourite games, but GamerGold needs to be purchased. The difference between the two is that while GP can unlock minor new items or upgrades, GG often unlocks bigger, fun new implements, such as "Samurai Mode" in this game. You can still play Swordless Ninja in its entirety for free, and without signing up.

Swordless NinjaAnalysis: Oh, Mabushi. Who needs Miyuki? Come and whisk me away to your bizarre, whimsical world of shurikens, bees, and angry plant... things. I haven't been this charmed by a game in a good long while, and for good reason; it's an absolute pleasure to play. The bright, cheerful graphics, the easy-to-master control scheme, the old-school style... all of it combines to make Swordless Ninja an easily accessible title to both newcomers to the platform genre and veterans alike. The difficulty curve is steady, but never unreasonable.

Still, it's not perfect. I have to question the idea to incorporate lives into the system. The plethora of coins laying about every level means you'll usually have a ridiculous amount of lives under your belt, so why have them at all? And like another red-suited platformer hero, Mabushi also dies with a single hit (unless he has a power-up active). You can call this a staple of the genre, but it still can make some levels unreasonably frustrating. And is there any particular reason why Mabushi can't swim, other than to make things difficult? All I'm saying is that if I were an esteemed ninja clan leader, and if any of my ninja couldn't swim, they would be taking weekly classes at the Y until they could.

Swordless Ninja goes out of its way to be accessible, and it shows. Not only with its multiple control choices, but in the scope of its levels, which are often very short and run on a straight path. This approach means that younger players won't be frustrated by it, but that for the most part, older gamers may crave a bit more of a challenge. But Swordless Ninja does so many things right, it's easy to overlook its shortcomings. It's a big world out there, with plenty of hidden levels to find, items, and achievements, and it's also just plain fun. As an homage to the genre, Swordless Ninja is a resounding success, and shouldn't be missed by anyone who has ever hopped on a Koopa before.

Play Swordless Ninja

20 Comments

A good entertainment and evolutionary(gamersafe) breakthrough!
I love the cuteness and also hope gamersafe will keep theirs standard high :) .

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Let's talk about bonus levels/features that you can only get by playing at a certain site.

What is the point of this feature? Does anybody else find it annoying?

Also, why does it seem like JIG always links to a host site that is not the one that gives the "extra" content?

I've found this whole thing confusing for a while now. I have run into it for Kongregate games before and now this Yo! Arcade thing. Would someone please illuminate this for me?

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elemeno: I disagree that we "always link to a host site that is not the one that gives extra content." Once or twice, yes, but in those cases once we learned of the limitations imposed, we changed the links to point to where all the content exists. In the case of Casual Space, the developer asked us to link to his version since he gets points when people go to Kongregate from his link. We chose to honor the developer's request (we usually do).

As for this game, I believe you may have misunderstood the concept of Gamer Safe.

All the content for Swordless Ninja, as far as I can tell, is available in the version we have linked to here. Sure, you will need a Gamer Safe account to access some of the content, but you can log into your Gamer Safe account within any hosted version of Swordless Ninja.

That's the point of Gamer Safe, and I believe (and I hope) that it will help end the days where you have to play a game at a certain site to access all the content.

Update: I was just made aware that there is some bonus content available only at YoArcade, so I've changed the links (back again) to point there instead.

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Hey elemeno,

Good catch there. Originally the link WAS to yoarcade but must have changed. The reason for bonus content on a specific site is because sites pay developers money to have their advertising in the games and sometimes want bonus content only on their site. This is a good reason for GamerSafe as you can play the game on any site, save your progress, then go to another site and resume from the same point.

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Just to clarify, any snarkiness in my original post was wholly unintended, said post intending to convey a genuine interest in this particular mechanic of online casual gaming and its reasons for existing.

As I now realize, when JIG does link to the site that doesn't block "extra" content, we wouldn't notice... it only sticks out when linking to the site that tells you you're in the wrong place and you have to start over again to access the full game. So of course I would think JIG "always" links elsewhere... *facepalm* Again, not meant to insult or disrespect.

I think that the means of funding and distribution of online casual games are an important aspect that should be considered in discussions of those games. As such, decisions made by review sites like JIG are of interest to users like myself. I think my question was fair, and I must reiterate that it was meant with good intentions and genuine interest, and not a shred of trolliness.

For the record, I think helping out the developer is a good reason to link to his site instead of the "extra" content site, and is exactly the type of answer I was looking for on that point.

Nobody has really quite addressed how giving incentives to play a game on a specific site really helps them out though, and I don't quite get that yet. Is it that the more traffic they get, the more their ad space is worth?

If so I think that securing exclusive content rights is sort of a cheap way to make their site better than alternatives hosting the same game, even if it works. It seems like if you want more traffic you should come up with new features that make your site interesting, not just resort to crippling the same content on other sites.

But I do understand that free content is really nice, and I sort of have to take whatever people come up with if I want to continue to enjoy it.

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Hi elemeno,

I know I didn't take your post to be disrespectful at all, but inquisitive. I could go on forever about game monetization, but I don't think this is the right place for that. I will say that currently the entire Free-to-play space is almost wholly supported by advertising. And advertising pays in a few ways: number of "views" on an ad, number of "clicks" on an ad, and number of "actions" taken after clicking an ad. So, sites are paid by advertisers for ads on their site, around the games, and that's how they make all of their revenue (I'm being very general here, so I apologize if you know this already and this sounds too simple). So, basically, any traffic they can bring to their site = $$. So if they can have a hook in a game to bring you to their site.. even if you leave after playing the game... is money in the bank to them. This is how everything can be "free" for players.

I should note that most sites and developers work really hard to only have "bonus content" that isn't necessary for the enjoyment of the game, but that is extra and will draw players that truly enjoy the game enough to check out the bonus content. This is also how other sites accept the game even though they don't get that bonus content.

This is where GamerSafe comes in. As you probably noticed you can actually spend real money to buy an item in Swordless Ninja (it ends up being $1.25 or less depending how much GamerGold you buy). We hope that players who truly enjoy the game (and any game in the GamerSafe network) will be willing to pay for that content, and that way some of these tactics will fade away as the industry will have another form of revenue other than advertising. Also, with GamerSafe in particular, we also hope to bring a lot of value to games that are free, like saving of achievements and game saves, etc across computers and sites. If you have a GamerSafe account try playing Swordless Ninja on any site.. you'll see all your stuff comes with you! Also, you can log into your account at GamerSafe.com to see all the achivements you have or have yet to earn.

Sorry, that got a bit "marketing" in the end. I'd love to hear what you, and all gamers, think about this and what YOU would like to see. All of this, ultimately, is for your enjoyment.

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Gobsmacked Author Profile Page July 8, 2009 10:59 PM

Anyone else not able to even finish the 1st level, due to the "climb ledges/walls" button totally not working at all?

0 / 10, sorry. It looks neat enough, but the controls do not work. I can't even say I'm getting them confused, because it helpfully pops up and says "Hold Z to cling...", except you don't.

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No worries, elemeno, they were all good questions. :)

In answer to your question about incentives to play a game on a specific site, you kind of answered your own question.

Sponsors will pay more for games that feature exclusive content in hopes of driving more traffic to the sponsor's site as a result. More traffic = more ad revenue.

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Wow! I haven't played Mario Bros in years! It's good to play it again. Really fun. Me like. Fer real and true. : )

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I really like it, but I'm a bit annoyed there aren't checkpoints.

Overall though, 4/5.

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Dr. Worm Author Profile Page July 9, 2009 10:37 AM

This is one of the most fun Super Mario Bros. clones I've played. I LOVE IT!

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good game and easy enough gameplay and jumping ranges to relax !

but : why oh why can't i go to level 6 and cross the little bridge ?
I've got all the plumps in the previous levels thinking it would unlock it but it didn't work.

should i create a GP account ?

thanks !

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cute but very annoying when he dies.

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Nah, don't like it.

It's a blatant Mario clone but with much less responsive controls and pretty bad level design. The action is zoomed in too much (perhaps to admire the cute graphics), platforming is dull and fighting (at least in first few levels) is more of an annoyance then an amusing feature.

Production values are high, characters are cute, atmosphere is nice, but still I'd rather be playing Super Mario then a much less entertaining clone.

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Patrick July 11, 2009 9:05 AM

Luuna: Some levels have more than one exit. Try finding the other one.

Pretty decent game overall.

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James Everton Author Profile Page July 11, 2009 4:33 PM

This has got to be one of the best platformers I've played online in a long time. The gameplay was smooth, the controls were simple and easy to get used to, and the little story to go along with it was greatly entertaining.

5/5, definitely!

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How do you beat the last boss?

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joeynow Author Profile Page July 25, 2009 9:08 PM

I'm pretty sure those aren't darts, but kunai knives or similar. Interesting how the weapons create three levels of difficulty.

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Ubenthere July 28, 2009 11:06 PM

While playing Swordless Ninja, I've had great fun skipping between game portals with my GamerSafe account, picking up the game where I left off on other portals. The game itself is extremely entertaining and brings back memories of simpler time and place. GamerSafe makes it terrific! Hopefully all future flash games incorporate it into their games. Definitely 5/5!

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I had 88% done and I went back to play it and i have 68% and all my levels are messed up. ): How do i get it back?

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