A Light In the Dark Side of Happy Happy Nippon
Review written by
February 19th, 2015
Weeaboos, my anger,
Makes me red like rising sun,
Kawaii-etly, I perish.
I have a love-hate relationship with Japanese culture. On one hand, Persona 4 and the Metal Gear Solid series are my all-time favorite titles, and I've only ever owned one non-Nintendo console in my life. I've watched more Anime in the past year than I have pro wrestling and the news combined. My room is plastered with wall scrolls of Full Metal Alchemist, Hellsing, and torn-out pages from Nintendo Power's poster publications.
But then we get into that part of otaku culture where the sun don't shine; hardcore weeaboo territory. Now, usually I like to play up my sociopathic tendencies in these reviews, saying things like "I want to commit suicide" and other family-friendly catchphrases we've all come to know and love. I don't ACTUALLY (mostly) want to set myself on fire, hunt down hard working game developers, or perform anything anywhere close to that level of entertainment value.
That being said, whenever I hear a legitimate discussion of Naruto, Sword Art Online, Ouran High School or Neon Genesis Evangelion, my mind goes to darker territory than I've ever explored on this site.
And whenever I see someone perform that God-forsaken Haruhi dance, a little part of me dies, and the rest of me drinks compulsively until I'm borderline comatose.
The title of this game speaks more about its originality than I ever could. The protagonist is a mix between Naruto, Pikachu, and that animated tiger who teaches Nippon's infantile youth how to correctly take a dump. Ninja Battle Heroes' plot is paper-thin and horribly developed, peppered with one-dimensional characters whose names are so egregiously Japanese that I had to check to see if it wasn't actually made by American nutcases (it wasn't). Naming your main character 'Saizo' and his first ally 'Kosuke Anayama' is like a Japanese developer naming their American protagonist 'John Bradshaw Smith' and his partner 'Phillip Austin'.
The game also only has one song for about 90% of its levels: a generic-but thankfully forgettable-Edo-esque instrumental track. The enemies in each stage are the same as the last, with a few cookie-cutter substitutes introduced along the way but repeated shamelessly in later stages. These same enemies are reminiscent of those in another low-budget indie game, Chubbins, in that they both follow the age-old formula of 'animal + human clothing = creativity'.
This game exudes every part of what I hate about Japanese entertainment, from the incessantly 'kawaii' character sprites down to Ninjas that don't know the meaning of the word 'stealth'. On paper, this game should make my skin crawl and my blood boil. It should - based on all empirical data given - have the same effect on me as speedballs, bath salts and the rage virus from 28 Days Later.
You're probably far enough down this page to see the score. Believe me when I say I'm just as confused as you are.
Yes, there's only one song and a poor variety of enemies along the way. Yes, I wanted to claw my eyes out after the first text bubble laden cut-scene. But the gameplay in Ninja Battle Heroes is so solid and action-friendly that I can't bring myself to hate it.
Ninja Battle Heroes' combat system is like an electric blend of Mega Man Zero and a hint of Dragon Ball Z. Pressing Y once results in a ranged attack. Hammering Y results in a ranged attack followed by a close-range sword combo. Enemies will either run up from or attack from the foreground in 2.5D fashion, but unlike most 2.5D titles you can engage them in combat with the X-button while still remaining on your flat plane of existence. Enemies drop spirit, which you collect by holding down while your meter fills. These points carry after the stage ends, can revive you immediately after a death, be used to activate one of the game's many combat skills, and can even be invested into said skills to make them stronger. Meeting challenges on each stage to unlock new skill slots and spirit points encourages beating each stage more than once.
And even though I don't like the art style very much, I can't deny Ninja Battle Heroes is packing some pretty kick-ass visuals.
If you can get past its small soundtrack, stupid name, grating plotline, and all-around cheap packaging, there's a lot of fun to be had with Ninja Battle Heroes, whether you're beating it for the first time or repeatedly. Aside from Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, it's probably the most enjoyable (albeit it being a guilty pleasure) 2D platformer released on the 3DS eShop in recent months. If you've got a couple of bucks lying around and nothing catches your eye, give Ninja Battle Heroes a try.
... ...... You still can't convince me to finish NGEva.
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