Ninjala (Switch)

There’s a special kind of bubblegum that gives kids ninja powers when they chew it.  Be one of those gum chewing ninja kids in Ninjala, a free-to-play online multiplayer battle game for Nintendo Switch.

As a ninja kid, you can swing your cartoony weapon of choice at other players, as well as jump and double jump.  You can also run up walls and change into an everyday object to hide from others.  By holding down the L button, you can blow a gum bubble.  With a bubble blown, you can do several things.  You can dash, or send the bubble out to attack long distance players.  When you land enough blows and charge up your bubble power, you can even upgrade your weapon and make it bigger and stronger.

When you start a match, you are placed in an urban setting with about six other players.  You score points in one of two ways.  First is by destorying drones, and the second is attacking and defeating other players.  At the end of a timed round, extra points are awarded for whoever destroyed the most drones and who defeated the most players.  Then whoever has the most points, wins the round.  You can clearly tell this game was influenced by Splatoon, with its brightly colored urban settings and customizable kid characters.

There are two main problems I had with the game, though.  One is the free-to-play nature bogs down the game.  While you can unlock things by playing and leveling up, most of the good stuff, like customizable outfits for your character and story mode chapters you must buy with real money.  And the times I played online I was only offered one map and it wasn’t very interesting, and while Splatoon is fun even when you lose, it didn’t feel as rewarding here.

The other main problem I had was the game was SO laggy.  I never felt like I had control of my character when attacking others.  Sometimes I would just keep pressing the attack button and nothing would ever happen, and then all of a sudden I was defeated and respawning again.  This may not be the game’s fault, as Nintendo’s online service is extremely crappy, but it still kept me from staying interested.  I know I’m being overly harsh on a free-to-play game, as it still has pretty good production values (albeit not very original) and may still be worth a try.  But if I’m going to play an online battle game like this, I’d rather just play Splatoon.

Kid Factor:

Ninjala is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  You can smack other players with silly weapons like giant foam bats and yo-yos shaped like donuts, and defeated players just splat into the TV screen, but everyone’s ready for action again after a few seconds.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and parental supervision is highly recommended for the in-game purchases.

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