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Mini Ninjas is ridiculously sweet and charming throughout. Playing as one of six adorable pint sized heroes in their quest to save the world, the game is the perfect antidote to the many violent games out on the PlayStation 3 at the moment. It's a game that I found most enjoyable when taking it in turns with my nine year old cousin. It might not be a very long experience for the more experienced gamer but it's perfect for all the family to be entranced by and it teaches novice gamers some useful gaming skills.
From the very start, both me and my cousin were utterly beguiled by the visuals of the game. It all felt as if we were participating in a cartoon more than anything else. It was also immediately apparent to me that this was the perfect game for me and her to share together. You see Mini Ninjas is very innocent in its storytelling. There's nothing here that would scare a young player and it's nice to see such positive characters throughout the tale with no hint of negative stereotyping in sight. There's not even any killing or real violence as once you've hit an enemy a sufficient amount of time, it simply vanishes and a fluffy animal is released.
Playing the game was both satisfying for me and simple enough for my novice cousin to get to grips with. A few taps of a couple of buttons produced an immediately satisfying looking attack move which delighted my cousin as she didn't expect to be able to get to grips with it so quickly. It was a shame that we couldn't play it together, instead having to take it in turns but it was quite good fun to watch too. I watched as my cousin wandered around the surroundings of the Ninja village and saw the glee in her face as she realised she could 'jump' into the body of a fox or rabbit and chase after the enemies in this form. She did quickly realise that this didn't really work, but it was fun while it lasted. She'd hand me the controller once she was stuck, usually when she wasn't sure where to go, but as time went on I found her doing this less and less. Mini Ninjas was pitched perfectly ensuring that she never really got stuck on anything. Of course this meant that I was just sitting there watching the game for longer periods of time which was fine, but I was starting to wish I could take over proceedings, simply because it looked so much fun.
I watched as my cousin wandered around the surroundings of the Ninja village and saw the glee in her face.
A couple of hours into the game, we came across the first boss of the game: a fearsomely large ninja, at least five times our size. My cousin tried the usual attack pattern in vain and was completely and utterly baffled, handing the controller to me in despair. Fortunately it wasn't very hard for me to get to grips with, a simple matter of assessing the enemy's weak point and following a few timed button press commands. Demonstrating how to do it to my cousin, she understood how it was actually simpler than the method she tried and seemed to appreciate that sometimes taking your time to think about how to get around a goal works better than rushing in.
All the ninjas sounded so happy and cheery in their quest, it was infectious.
She carried on without many difficulties, enjoying freeing animals trapped in cages as well as dispensing with the many ninjas along the way. Gradually unlocking more playable characters, we both enjoyed switching to and from the other ninjas available. We did tend to revert back to Hiro, the main character, who could use magic but it was fun to be able to switch to others for brief periods. Being able to concoct our own potions through collecting various plants and fish was fun too and a welcome distraction from the main storyline. It all felt very relaxed as well as a happy and innocent affair. As my mother pointed out while watching us, all the ninjas sounded so happy and cheery in their quest, it was infectious. Even when one area consisted of ghosts, it was still friendly and cute, nothing was scary.
For me Mini Ninjas felt like the sort of game that I used to love playing on my Nintendo 64 when I was younger. It's a game full of innocence and warmth. Nothing is too taxing so it is perfect to demonstrate to a novice just how much fun a game can be. My cousin loved it and it's certainly inspired her to play more games, plus her parents were particularly impressed to find a game that taught her problem solving skills. Mini Ninjas really is the ideal game for all the family.
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