Electronic Theatre Preview: Ninja Captains

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            Ninja Captains is the latest Wii release from up-and-coming publisher Nordcurrent, the label that has delivered a number of underappreciated Wii and Nintendo DS releases over the last twelve months. Set for release on October 16th for both Wii and Nintendo DS, Ninja Captains hopes to break the mould of the mini-game compilation releases.

            Having recently been granted the opportunity to get hands-on with a work-in-progress version of the game, Electronic Theatre can commit now to stating that, for all its’ formulaic construction, Ninja Captains is certainly one of the most entertaining mini-game packages on the horizon. With each of the mini-games more closely resembling that from a Mario Party title rather than the constant stream of uninspired waggle-a-thon releases that it seems most developers feel consumers are asking for, Ninja Captains currently appears to be a rare glimmer of hope for Wii’s more cognisant audience.

            The art style is very closely related to a Saturday morning cartoon, with pencil sketched cut-scenes telling the tale of the Ninja Captains’ rather clumsy globetrotting adventureElectronic Theatre Image and colourful, simplistic scenes depicting the challenges set before them. Each mini-game is introduced by a scene illustrating how the team have arrived at their current destination, and what tasks await them upon arrival. For all the world-saving adventures that players are asked to embark upon in videogames, chasing a superstar to steal her lollipop is a refreshingly undignified undertaking.

            The first task involved running between passengers on a plane, offering a sick bag to those who need it. Players move up and down the row of seats with either the Analogue Stick on the Nunchuk or the D-Pad on the Wii Remote, waving the Wii Remote up and down to offer the bag to the ill passenger. Each game has a series of three scores to achieve, determining your ranking for that game, and players must achieve at least the lowest rank to continue. Once a mini-game has been completed, it becomes available in Party Mode, allowing players to attempt higher scores without having to wait to reach their desired game through the Story Mode.

            A number of other mini-games were available to play, including Street Statues in which the player must keep their on-screen icon within a floating bubble to score points, twisting the Wii Remote in accordance with the angles prescribed by the bubble for additional points. Rock Retreat tasks the playing with working their way up a mountain by selecting the optimal route of graspableElectronic Theatre Image rocks within range, and Running of the Bulls throws the player into a chase scene reminiscent of early Crash Bandicoot titles. Less successful games are present, such as High-Rise Hurry which, at first play, is about as comfortable as rubbing your stomach whilst patting your head, though these few poorly implemented exercises take little away from the more inventive, acutely motion-sensitive designed games such as Railroad Ride.

            Ninja Captains appears to be a fairly solid construction, with precisely delivered control mechanics and some genuinely entertaining mini-games for up to four players. And in that respect, the game is far greater when played with a full contingent of human players. The Artificial Intelligence provides a welcome challenge, but one which may infuriate the player with the first few attempts at each game. Thankfully, should a player repeatedly fail a mini-game, the software will ask if they wish to lower the difficulty of that specific mini-game rather than the entire of the game, and with Party Mode players can readdress those with which they chose to enable “baby mode” at a later date. With the version Electronic Theatre received remaining incomplete, there’s still plenty of time for the odd annoyance to be cleaned-up prior to release, but in that which we’ve seen so far Ninja Captains is undoubtedly aiming to reach the top of a very crowded genre. And currently, that goal certainly doesn’t appear to be out of it’s reach.

 

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Don’t forget: You can win your very own copy of Ninja Captains for Wii, courtesy of Nordcurrent, right here at Electronic Theatre! Check out the Competition Page for more details!

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