There have been plenty of excellent retro platformers released for iOS over the years, and the upcoming 1-Bit Ninja is one that has really caught my attention. Developer Ben Hopkins and his studio Kode80 wanted to create a platforming game that was an homage to the Game & Watch and Game Boy platformers of his youth, and it’s immediately apparent that 1-Bit Ninja is just that. It features monochrome-style graphics and simple 1 pixel animations, but it’s also hiding a high tech secret under the hood.

Anytime during play, you can touch and drag the upper portion of the screen to reveal the world in 3D and get a new perspective on things. If you follow console gaming at all, the effect is somewhat similar to the upcoming title Fez (I highly suggest watching the gameplay video for that game) or even the Paper Mario series. Changing the perspective is not only very cool looking but also affects the gameplay by revealing hidden paths and giving you a broader perspective down the level so you can plan your actions better.

But talk is cheap, check out this developer gameplay video to see what 1-Bit Ninja is like for yourself:

In addition to this interesting gameplay mechanic, Kode80 is also dedicated to creating a game that controls really well on the touch screen. The game has been designed from the ground up for two button controls - touching the left side of the screen makes your character run and touching the right side makes him jump - and that’s it. Players in our forums who are fans of iOS platformers like League of Evil [$2.99/Lite] and Mos Speedrun [$1.99] are skeptical about not being able to move to the left, but I’ll keep an open mind about that until I’m actually able to try the game.

That won’t be too long of a wait either, as 1-Bit Ninja is scheduled to hit at the end of this month. We’ll definitely be taking a look at this interesting looking title then, and check out the forum thread for more information.

  • Jobs

    oh common.. lousy graphics under the facade of "retro" yet again.

    • Mrsmartiepants

      Make your own game or review site if you'd prefer shitty 3d graphics over quality gaming with an aesthetically comforting feel.

      • Truths

        3D shitty graphics, you say that, just by default?, there are many many gorgeous game with 3D out there. Dont be a fanatic and have some respect. Other people think different than you, do you know that?

      • Aaron Sullivan

        May I point out that you seem to call graphics that are like this "lousy" by default? From other posts you seem to fear (your word for it) that retro games are too plentiful or something.

        How about this? This game probably wouldn't exist if it had to have someone working full time on art that would satisfy you. That's time and money that not every talented game developer can afford.

        I know from working on a game myself that adding professional looking art assets takes a great deal of time and yet the fun gameplay has been in place for two years. So, my game "doesn't exist" on the market.

        There's room in the app store for piles and piles of different types of games. This game was not meant for you, apparently. So... why not move along? Spend your energy promoting the types of games and visuals you enjoy and leave people who love this type of thing to themselves. I'm pretty sure you won't convince a single lover of pixel art or retro gaming that this game is ugly and therefore uninteresting.

        For those who appreciate pixel art: Why people don't enjoy pixel art, I don't know. Most people enjoy adding their own imagination to flesh out and give life to abstracted pictures. Art is more interactive that way. It's amazing how much more interesting some low low rez pixel art is compared to the 16-bit era and onward where there were always some companies pushing for realism -- which is also cool. However, the games that tried to look "real" often age very poorly and are hard to return to, but I can always bring my imagination to the old abstract pixel art and the game still feels fresh.

    • asolja

      wow a deaf,dumb and blind player

      • BadGraphics

        The graphics arent that great

      • Truths

        And you are a lesser thing (cant say person, you dont deserve this) for not tolerating other people opinions. Freedom of speech... god why people are so hostile this days? he said what he thought and thats it.

    • Truths

      Gameplay wise, this game looks so good, with that 3D effect to discover secrets and things like that, but this game looks far worse than Super Mario Land for GameBoy, and that game has almost 20 years on its back. Many devs with low resources are using this "Retro" style to cover for the bad animations and art skills. But this? Is far worse.... the gameplay its good, but common, have some common sense and stop being fanatics... looks terrible and simplistic

      • Jared Nelson

        It was designed this way intentionally. It's an homage to Game & Watch LCD games and classic Game Boy games. Just because you don't like graphics like this doesn't mean that they aren't capable of creating better graphics if they wished. This is the way the dev wants it and I think it looks awesome.
        Also, why are you posting using different names?

      • Truths

        The last one was a mistake

      • Truths

        And its not that i dont like them ( i like the 3D idea and the resemblance to Mario ) its just something i fear

    • Anonymous

      That's not 1-bit but 4-bit style graphics. That what we had for a couple decades, for me it is retro.

  • Nitzan Wilnai

    This looks awesome.

  • Kenchin

    it look like Nintendo Mario.

  • TheTheory

    That sliding to 3-dimensions is pretty sweet. But I suck at platformers like this (not growing up with Mario really put a damper on my platforming talent), so price-point is going to be a huge issue for me.

  • metalcasket

    Looks like it's heavily influenced by Super Mario Land for the Game Boy and considering that was my favorite game when I was a child, I can't f***ing wait for 1-bit Ninja. This looks absolutely fantastic!

    • G-SYS

      I thought the same. 😀

    • Truths

      Super Mario Land had better graphics, gameplay and all else, and was from 1992?

      • Anonymous

        Oh, "common". We all know your opinions, so would you please stop ruining the discussion for everyone else?

  • Mark Johns

    Looks cool, but I wish the 3D effect had some implication on the gameplay. otherwise, what's the point?

    • Gurumeditation

      hear hear. Yeah I agree. Maybe for 2-bit Ninja. Nice work though. I love new retro stuff

    • Liem Thai

      I don't see yet the link of the 3D effect, but this game reminds me instantly to Mario Paper, and Mario Paper use the 3D environment changing so well.

    • Liem Thai

      I don't see yet the link of the 3D effect, but this game reminds me instantly to Mario Paper, and Mario Paper use the 3D environment changing so well.

    • Jared Nelson

      It does. Checking the view in 3D will expose hidden paths and items.

    • asolja

      it does,if you pay attention to the video as it shows where you can drop into relativley hidden areas or (difficult to see ) areas

      • Dimitris Katsafouros

        yeah you get to hidden areas but it seems that all that you'll be missing is a few golden coins.
        It doesn't look like it plays an important aspect gameplay wise.

      • Aaron Sullivan

        But... this game is about collecting coins, defeating enemies, and advancing. How could the secret paths NOT effect that? The first poster simply didn't watch the whole video. The first couple of times the movie shows the 3D effect it does nothing for the gameplay. I think that is a misstep in the trailer, personally.

        The game, howver, looks really fun, and I really enjoy the look of it. There's a lot of care making it look totally 2D and simple in the 2D view and it doesn't seem at all like it could "go 3D" so the effect is fun.

      • Padi

        From what I've seen it is nonessential to progression (other subtle visual hints of hidden passages, old fashioned Mario-trained curiosity can do the same thing), but nonessential and nifty is fine by me. 2D Mario games always had stuff like that, fun to do and maybe advantageous but not necessary to progress. I figure "'cause it would be neat and fun and wouldn't hamper the design" is as good a reason to implement a feature as any, that's the fun of independent development. But who knows? Maybe some inane perspective shift puzzles will creep out and kill the flow of the game. I'm probably going to try this, though.

  • wohdin

    Reminded me more of Echochrome..... but that's probably because I've never played Paper Mario.

  • Retro is chick?

    I fear more and more developers are trying this "retro" stuff to hide a bad art department and bad animations. If you have low resources, then go with "retro"

    • Jared Nelson

      I would stop trolling these comments using different screen names if you value your ability to comment on the articles at all.

      • Truths

        As i said earlier, the name was i mistake, i am Truths, not retro is chick, oh the mistakes

      • Jared Nelson

        It's incredible that two completely different people who share the same exact hatred for retro graphics would comment at the same time on this specific article and also share the same IP address and similar emails. What a coincidence!!

    • Anonymous

      Why do you fear it? That's incredibly good advice. There's no point in someone with little to no skill in graphic design trying to make Infinity Blade, it'd be far more productive for them, their game and their customers if they opt keep it clean and simple. There are plenty of retro fans out there and the people who are "scared" of it like yourself can go cry in a corner or merely shut up when you don't like something and wait for something you do like. Common sense much?

  • Hendrikk

    Wow. I have been waiting for a game like this.... forever! I have thought of that kind of 2d->3d thing, but since I'm no developer, just thinking doesn't help 😛
    Well done!

  • Thicky

    I didn't come from this era so most of these retro games turn me off. This game looks awesome, however. D:

    • Anonymous

      Try playing some. If you truly enjoy games you'll quickly realize what you're missing. It's never too late to go back.

      • Anonymous

        I agree. I grew up with Super Mario onward and really didn't like games from almost a half-decade to a decade prior (Pac-Man, Donkey Kong etc) but I recently have gone back to those and love them. Simple but very solid gameplay with such iconic character designs! There is something soooo endearing about those games!

  • Anonymous

    Looks like it's using the same engine that Super Mario Land used in Gameboy

  • Caanerud

    This game looks awesome. I am concerned about not being to move left, however. I am not Derek Zoolander, and what happens if an enemy gets behind you? You just wait until it gets in front of you again? And you can't explore the levels by backtracking?

    And there is a distinct different between looking crappy and looking retro. It comes down to art style and execution, which apparently some people can't see or don't care about.

    See Minotaur Rescue, Pix 'N Love Rush, Frogotto, the Hook games, and the Blocks Cometh for good looking retro-style games.

  • Alanfalcon

    Well, technically you can and do move left, when the game calls for it. You just have no control over whether you'll move left or right. Rather than simply being a limitation, it looks like it adds another dimension to the gameplay. You have to think about your moves as you proceed, because if you miss an enemy or a coin, then there's no going back for it. Same as if you miss a secret (or not so secret) passageway. The only way to get those coins would be to replay the level and do a better job.

    I kind of like the 3D aspect of the game, but it basically seems like it'll just slow the whole game down a lot for completionists. That said, in the areas where it was used to show secrets it did seem like the level was hiding something so maybe it won't be so bad as good players will only use it when something feels amiss in the level. But if the developer uses the 3D to hide secrets you would never suspect unless you do the 3D tilt every 10 steps out of paranoia, then it will have failed in my book.

  • pup

    Brilliant and beautiful! Love the Mario Land art meets Paper Mario effect. Day 1 purchase. Cannot wait!!!!

  • Guest

    The 3d thing just looks tedious