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‘Ninjas – Stolen Scrolls’ is a Really Neat Beat ’em Up with Some Iffy Controls

ninjasThere are few things I like more than a good old button-mashing beat ’em up, and tonight a very interesting looking one is heading to the US App Store. It’s called Ninjas – Stolen Scrolls, and in addition to beating on a ridiculous number of bad guys it also features a very cool XP and character leveling system, a magic system, and tons of loot to collect. It’s also a very visually attractive game. The one thing I’m struggling to get behind are the controls, but with a bit of practice I’m starting to warm up to them.

When you first start out in Ninjas, you’ll choose from among four different types of ninjas to play as, each based off of an element. There’s fire, water, lightning and wind, as well as two hidden ninjas, one of which you can tell is an “Apple logo for a head" guy who I can’t wait to unlock and play.

I chose the Fire Ninja, and from there was thrust into a brief tutorial explaining the controls. It’s dead simple – tap either side of the touchscreen to punch in that direction. Tapping rapidly will perform combos, and eventually you’ll unlock a weapon button and another button for performing your ninja’s particular elemental attack. In my case my weapon is a shuriken and my element a fireball, both of which can be added into your punching combos.

The part of the controls I’m having trouble with is the movement. You use quick swipes to send your ninja dashing around the environment, and it sort of works ok, but it’s incredibly difficult to have any precision. Your ninja moves super fast, and it’s hard to tell how long or short of a distance he’s going to run. Inevitably you’ll sometimes end up being right where you don’t want to be, and then frantically swiping just to get away from impending danger.

Like I said, I’m warming up to the movement controls, but I still can’t understand why a simple virtual d-pad wouldn’t have worked just as well or possibly even better. Everything else about Ninjas I’m totally digging however, so if you like a good brawler with some light RPG elements it’s probably worth at least checking out when Ninjas – Stolen Scrolls hits later tonight. You can read more early impressions from the folks in our forums, too.

International App Store Link: Ninjas – STOLEN SCROLLS, $0.99 (Universal)