Sticky Ninja Academy
Cling, swing, bounce, and jump kick your way to the head of the class in Sticky Ninja Academy, an addictively unique take on the classic puzzle platformer genre from LongAnimals. As a lowly ninja-in-training, you'll have to complete 30 grueling training exercises before you can graduate to full shinobi status and be considered worthy by your mysterious floating sensei. Careless speed and reckless abandon won't get you far here; true mastery of the art of the sticky ninja depends primarily on patience, timing, precision, and, apparently, lots and lots of Velcro. Deftly maneuver though each stage in as few jumps as possible to achieve a perfect score, avoiding environmental hazards, collecting treasure, and defeating rival students along the way.
Launch your tiny ninja by clicking on him and aiming with the mouse. Your predicted trajectory will appear to help you gauge the accuracy of your jump and will turn red to warn you if there's something in the path your ninja will collide with. Some surfaces are sticky, some are smashable, bouncy, or slippery, and several are just plain deadly. Examine the level around you to more carefully plan your jumps by clicking away from the ninja and dragging to move the camera. Be certain to look before you leap, as an ill-timed or misfired jump can easily result in demise in the later stages, forcing you to repeat some of the level from an earlier checkpoint. Color-coordinated rival students also stand in your path to ninja-hood and every one of them must be dispatched before the door to the next training exercise will open. Many can and should be attacked head-on with an impressive flying kick, but some can only be defeated by being knocked into environmental hazards or by using one of the limited ranged elemental attacks you'll collect along the way (press [X] to drop a water bomb or hurl a fiery shuriken).
Mastering the mechanics of Sticky Ninja Academy isn't easy and the difficulty ramps up pretty quickly. Jumps get longer and require more precision as the game progresses and hazards become more and more common. The game would definitely benefit from a few tweaks, such as an undo button to go back a jump or the ability to zoom the camera out in order to fully see what lies ahead, but none of those minor frustrations are enough to take away from what's most important: the sheer fun of the game. The graphics are eye-catching and attractive, the gameplay is smooth, the music is lovely, and the concept stays fresh throughout all 30 levels. Slip into your finest Velcro-lined garb, gather your concentration, and do your best to graduate with honors from the Sticky Ninja Academy.