The vast majority of virtual or interactive pet games might offer a fun, regular distraction of caring for something without any real consequences if you forget to feed it or fail to keep it happy over a regular period of time but they lack a certain reality by their very nature. Most of these "pets" are just a collection of animated sprites designed to react to certain stimuli and choices over time. They don't move with any real fluidity to fulfill their obligations as true virtual pets.

That's why NaturalMotion should have gotten into the virtual pet business a long time ago. The release of their newest title Clumsy Ninja [Free] uses physics based movements to create a surprisingly lifelike and lovable character that you can train and grow into a high-flying, board chopping, back flipping ninja master.

The main character is more than just a rag doll that the player can throw around the screen under the guise of training him. It's an intuitive, fluidly moving character with a past and a plotline that the player must guide him through who can respond to its surroundings with smooth, physical movements. It makes him feel more like a living, breathing cartoon being than just a lifeless indicator of the game's management process. There are moments when flopping the character around the screen becomes an integral part of the gameplay but it still feels like it is moving and reacting to the falls the way a real person would presuming that they could survive being flung through the air and still stand on their own two feet free from any pain whatsoever.

screen1136x1136-194The game also gives you access to a bunch of objects and training tools to bring your Ninja up to speed and earn higher ranks in the form of Karate belts. Each object rewards the player with different power-ups and new moves as the Ninja levels up in his training regime. These objects range from simple toys that make it more fun to interact with the character such as balloons that can be tied to the Ninja and lift him off the ground to more interactive objects such as a trampoline that unlocks new flying moves or a hoop that you can throw the ninja through to toughen him up to achieve the next level.

Compared to other virtual pet games, there is less emphasis placed on maintaining your ninja's health stats and more on interacting with him to improve his abilities and moves. The training space exists in a 3D environment and the true beauty of the experience is watching the Ninja move and react to them as you move them around him. The most impressive part of the gameplay comes in the form of various punching bags that you hold up by the string and move around the Ninja as he learns to gauge his punches and kicks without falling over, which he will do less and less the more that you train him. He's not just hitting a single target in a confined space. He's moving in all directions to time his throws and it feels satisfying to see his punches achieve better timing and greater strength with each session.

Since it's a free game, it still has to follow the rules of free-to-play gaming so some may grow tired of eventually running out of coins or diamonds and having to do extra sessions if they aren't willing to pay for the privilege of skipping ahead. They are, however, spaced out better than most games of their ilk and don't completely derail the experience by adding unnecessary catches that interrupt the flow of the game and turn the term "free-to-play" into a total oxymoron. NaturalMotion has created something very impressive and they clearly want to show off their little Ninja and what he can do.

TouchArcade Rating

  • nonstickron

    My toddlers LOVE it, and i kinda like it too.

  • TTotully

    Fun game, made me laugh. Good for kids and even adults! Iap aren't as bad as some but they can be avoided if you are patient. Not much to gripe about here.

  • Breinstein

    Hmm , when I first starting playing I also thought that the iap was balanced, but my opinion changed after the brown belt. The objects needed for the various tasks get very expensive, and getting to the next belt becomes a very tedious quest. Excercises on the trampoline? Punching bag etc have to be done ten times or more before the necessary Xp is earned, the waiting time to repair also increases quite rapidly after the third version of for example the trampoline. Eventually you play for 15 minutes ( to do all the exercises ) wait an hour or 2 , then do the same exercises again and after repeating the cycle 10 or more time you have earned a new belt. Quite a boring experience when the novelty wears off ...

    • IMNS

      Pretty much exactly what I came to say here. Neat little toy for a bit. After that its way too boring and repetitive with nothing new to offer.

    • jamieS

      Same experience here, interesting for 30-40 minutes, get brown belt, delete.

  • JJE McManus

    Lovely toy with a bit too much emphasis on micro transactions.
    Beautifully realized the environment is too spare to keep little ones entertained for more than a few minutes.
    Mechanically my only quibble is with moving the figure between the fore and back grounds as seen most clearly in the hoops exercise.
    I suspect there's only a few hours of actual play with it assuming you buy a boatload of currency.

  • MentolKase

    I've been playing this every day, and just hit lvl 35 today...never bought any IAPs, either. For coins, later on you can buy things listed under the 'chicken' icon that generate coins for various time periods (get an egg every hour, acorn every 1.5 hours, beehive every 3 or 4 hours, etc., and they're all upgradable), and other times you can repair your coin-generating equipment just by watching a short video or tweeting (though I haven't linked my Twitter account...I hate tweeting game stuffs). It really is gratifying to see my lil' ninja start from carefully crawling onto a trampoline, to later on hopping onto it with a somersault...

    But yeah, this is an awesome app. If you're expecting to just be able to sit down and train him straight for hours on end, prepare to buy IAPs...but if you just play every so often, train everything until they're all on cooldown, and remember to put him to bed on the mat every day for the daily bonus, you'll keep up on your coin quota and have fun.

  • nini

    I like it but I really struggle to see it as a virtual pet type of game as I'm not directly responsible for so much of the ninja's life, just the training which isn't caring, it's just level grinding.

  • Nycteris

    He is so charming I feel bad throwing him around! But I agree that it gets a bit grindy.

  • Jacob Gehman

    Cute, and the backstory just about broke my heart.
    I'm early on (Lvl 7, if memory serves), but for a brief distraction, it seems to serve the purpose nicely. I am worried that later levels will be darn near impossible to complete without flipping some $$ at it. Ah well, time will tell.

  • godofodd

    Compared to Hatch, this game is downright brilliant.

    • nini

      Why compare? They're not much alike.

  • timb

    I'm level 18, mostly from playing when I get up and before I go to sleep, no IAP. Everything but new Gis and outfits can be purchased with coins (at the appropriate level) so you really don't need to pay anything at all! If you play smart the game will give you plenty of diamonds; crates and barrels will reward you with them on a random basis, so for say 150 coins you can buy 3 Green Crates which give you 1,000XP and a chance at a diamond. No timer on the crates, either.

    The game sends you local notifications when your items are off cool down or you have an egg ready, so if you hop in a few times a day you can easily gain at least a level and a few thousand coins each day.

    You can also instantly repair 3 items per day by watching two 30 second ad clips and tweeting about the game. Pro Tip: Make a throw away Twitter account just for games so you don't spam your real followers. Alternatively: You can delete all the text in the Twitter dialog and just make a regular tweet. 😉

    All in all a very fun game that's really raised the bar for interactive characters. They're actually ray casting out of the ninja's eyes, which gives him an actual field of vision, which allows him to literally see objects and interact with them. Instead of scripted actions they're dynamic reactions! How cool is that?

  • Taclys

    I adore this game. I've gotten my sister and girlfriend addicted too. The freemium is entirely tolerable (at least currently, I'm level 27) and the ninja is darn adorable.

  • rewyan

    This game is beyond excellent. I am currently level 30 and there's been absolutely no push to buy any sort of IAP. Sure, the game gets tighter, but it's completely possibly to get all the belts and items without IAP. Patience is the key here.

  • GenerallyEpic

    This game is one of the best Free-to-Plays I've ever downloaded. NaturalMotion is a great game designer.

  • Bobbie

    I loved it since I first got it. I don't think it is a repetitive app, because you can unlock different landscapes as you play! It would be boring if items never broke, so I don't mind waiting for Sensi to repair the item! AWESOME APP FOR ANYONE!

  • Annie

    I am now a master ninja. Can you imagine my disappointment after successfully passing level 50 (am in level 51, and have my master ninja attire) - when I find a message that said continue to train. Then you see a picture of the ninja about to enter a cave and a sign that says COMING SOON. so I have 600,000+ money and 352 gems. WTF!!!

    • Emma

      Been playing this for about a month now.. Must say was slowly but surely getting sick of the repetitiveness so by level 44 decided to pay my way up to level 51 so I could hurry up and open the Dojo to unlock my master suit & soon save Kira only to find the same 'Coming Soon' message!! What a load of crap!!!!! Such a waste of time and money to get this far for nothing

  • Juan White

    download Clumsy Ninja Hack 2014 working here

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Clumsy Ninja Reviewed by Danny Gallagher on . Rating: 4