The latest title from the widely respected Japanese development studio behind a number of cult titles and the recently released Deathsmiles Deluxe Edition, NIN2-JUMP is Cave’s first digitally distributed title in Europe. Being from said developer, a few things are expected of NIN2-JUMP: firstly it must present a unique take on a popular genre, and secondly it should be suitably eccentric in its visual design. Unsurprisingly, NIN2-JUMP delivers amply on both counts.
In NIN2-JUMP players become a ninja who goes by the name of NIN-JA, on a mission to rescue Princess Sakura. The princess was kidnapped by the evil ninja named Namakura, and as the greatest ninja master in the world in players will play through fifty Stages in Adventure Mode.
While at first NIN2-JUMP may look like a fairly traditional 2D Platform game, in practice it’s anything but familiar. Running and jumping is there, but the all important high-score goal is offered as a speed run system. Players must collect every scroll within a level and reach the exit in the quickest time possible. An on-screen indicator points you in the direction of the closet scroll at all times, but should you miss one you will not be allowed to pass through the exit.
Starting simply enough, with little more than a few spike traps to avoid, NIN2-JUMP builds new mechanics at increasingly predictable intervals. Enemies become more frequent and the player isn’t immediately equipped with the ability to take them down, and a creeping death constantly moves towards the player on every stage, demanding the always leave room to take evasive action when needed. CAVE is well known for their ‘bullet hell’ style Shoot-‘Em-Ups, and those well versed in the genre will recognise many of the conventions adapted into the 2D Platform game. NIN2-JUMP falls somewhere between Sonic the Hedgehog and Viewtiful Joe, and yet is more unique than either.
In addition to the Adventure Mode is the Score Attack Mode. Players must regularly attack enemies in order to achieve as high a score as possible with all the abilities unlocked. As simple as it sounds the Score Attack Mode is surprisingly engrossing, and given the separate score boards and online leaderboards for each Adventure Mode and Score Attack Mode, players can play to whatever they feel is their best competition: their friends, other gamers or themselves.
NIN2-JUMP is striking game visually. A clear case of a unique vision, NIN2-JUMP is designed as if it’s an elaborate puppet show: the hand-painted paper backdrop plays host to characters on sticks and moving platforms on string. There’s even an audience in between the player and the action, cheering and jeering with successes and failures.
As the first title from CAVE to hit digital distribution channels in the UK, NIN2-JUMP fulfils the expectation of being quirky and challenging. It’s an interesting take on a very familiar genre that is worth having a look at by anyone invested in videogames as a hobby, and even for those less involved simply looking for a few hours of entertainment for a few evenings. NIN2-JUMP is packed with enough content score run content to warrant a premium Xbox LIVE Arcade price-tag, but for only 400 Microsoft Points NIN2-JUMP is an absolute bargain.