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Mini Ninjas demoed

shrine

Now even a little later to catch the bandwagon than with Batman, I tried the demo for Mini Ninjas, a third person action game, due to be out on the 11th in Europe. Thanks for the heads up once again to Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

The demo begins with your little ninja waking up. Then his bearded master turns up and tells that there’s trouble a’ brewing in the land. Evil samurai are on the march capturing animals for some nefarious scheme. To make the mix worse there’s a spooky old abandoned castle that’s seeing a lot of traffic lately. Its up to your Mini Ninja and his friends to make everything better again.

As you can see from the pictures the game looks super-cutey, reminding me a lot of Kung-Fu Panda, with less parody. There are some funny elements though, like the ninja-spell that lets you take over animals and use them to attack the evil samurai. Bear in mind that a chicken doesn’t have a lot of attack power, a boar or a bear are better choices. Also a bit ridiculous is roving around in a big hat. You can even fish and get sushi for your troubles.

Evil Samurai

The fighting is fun and might turn out to have some depth to it with an array of spells, items and a special super-attack allowing you to attack multiple foes in sequence. The visuals serve the gameplay well. The attacks look flashy and the spells pretty. Besides fighting there’s also a lot of items hidden into the game world including herbs, which you can brew into potions if you so wish.

As far as casual action games go Mini Ninjas might turn out be interesting. I usually like my cuteness in short controlled bursts but I enjoyed my short time with the demo so that shouldn’t be too big a problem. Judging from the launch trailer it looks like there’ll be some nice environments along the road to adventure, including snowy mountains and what looks like a Mini Ninja Venice.

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Getting back to my gaming PC I finally had the chance to try out the demo for the new Batman game. I had noted the high review scores it was getting so I had rather large expectations.

Entering the title-screen a love for details is instantly noticeable as well as high production values. In the menu you find cards with details about the characters in the game, with more to be found in the game world. At the moment though there are only cards for Batman and Joker. The cards contain general information and some character history, but what most caught my attention were a couple of tapes containing dialogue from Joker’s psychiatric treatment. Only two were unlocked but they already deepened the character of Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill).

Joker

Starting the game itself you’re treated to a quick cut-scene where Batman brings Joker into Arkham. The top notch voice acting and a very cinematic feel to the game come forth rather quickly. Then the music kicks in and I’m sucked right in. By the end of the cut-scene it becomes apparent that Joker wanted to be brought to Arkham asylum for some nefarious scheme and its up to Batman to stop him. Let the criminal bashing commence.

The demo gives a short sneak peek of all the gameplay elements: Hand to hand combat, sneaking around while quietly disposing of enemies and using Batman’s detective mode to find hints and clues. Judging from the shorth taste I got, the fighting is a lot of fun, if it remains to be seen what kind of combos Batman can pull of later in the game. His basic punch already disposed of enemies easily. What I most liked was how powerful controlling Batman felt. My experience was rather close to the scene in Batman Begins where he, for the first time, takes care of a group of criminals in the harbour by sneaking around and scaring the living shit out of them.

Don't mess with the Bat

Even if I mention Batman Begins, the game is a far cry from that movie and The Dark Knight, with a more cartoony feel to it. Its still very dark and grim bringing Frank Miller’s envisioning of Batman to mind. As far as I can gather from the demo all the elements of a great game are there. A strong story, characters and solid gameplay. In general mood I was reminded of Bioshock with a lot more sneaking. Looking at the reviews Batman Arkham Asylum is getting I’d say this might be another Escape From Butcher’s Bay and I can’t wait for Batman to grapple his way onto my PC.

Arkham

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