I’m not one of those fools who think the Wii is just about party games and waving your body around but I can’t deny that these types of games have been quite successful on the Nintendo Wii. Ninja Captains is a collection of 20 party style games for younger children and families. Let’s see if it can win over a 26 year old grumpy gamer such as myself in my review of Ninja Captains for Wii.
If you’ve played Mario Party or Rayman Raving Rabbids you should know how a party game on the Wii plays. Instead of a deep gripping adventure set in a dungeon or open world urban cityscape; Ninja Captains gives you a loose storyline to tie 20 minigames together; this is what I like to call The Story Mode. Here you’re introduced to the four sleek Ninja Cats that you and up to 3 friends can control. The storyline takes place as the Ninja Cats try to save the world from a giant mouse that has knocked over the Statue of Liberty and is wrecking more havoc around New York. The trouble is that as soon as they start, they’re whisked away to the other side of the world and will have to try their best to get back as quickly as possible. To do this they travel from city to city and must compete in a minigame to proceed to the next. They’ll visit iconic places such as England, France, the Artic, Japan and Australia (amongst others). Right a party game should be judged on its games and that’s what I shall blather on about next.
The front of the Ninja Captains Wii game box says that there are 20 games; I didn’t actually count to verify but I have played them all. To start I will admit that there is a fair bit of variety to the games; Hair Cutting, Fishing, Rock Climbing, Balancing Crockery, Dancing, Surfing and Shuriken throwing are just some of the better ones you’ll encounter. They all last under two minutes and for the most part are fun for a group of 4 kids. The CPU will control any Ninja’s not being control by humans. Younger gamers or those playing solo may be frustrated by some of the minigames using lots of imprecise waggle control which may result in many attempted retries. One nice feature is that after a few retries the game will ask if you’d like to switch to baby difficulty; even I had to do this to complete one or two of the games. Something I found quite strange was that many of the minigames featured no background music and lacked atmosphere. Amidst the huge array of similar party games already on the market, Ninja Captains’ games really do not stand out; however one thing in its favour is the humour and quality of the animated story moments. Rather than go for your typical budget priced FMV sequences, Ninja Captains features dozen of rather stylish hand drawn animations that set the mood rather well and make you chuckle. As you play through and complete each mini game it is then unlocked in Party Mode; all this is that from then on you don’t need to play the story mode through again and can choose your favourite games and skip the ones you don’t like. Most of the games are at least a little fun but all will involve you waving the Wii Remote and Nunchuck around, if you prefer stationary games this is not for you.
If you’re a parent of some younger players between 3 and 6 years old this may well be a good introduction to games on the Wii; the lack of depth and hassle in between games should keep their concentration. Sadly the poor controls and requirement for a Nunchuck doesn’t make Ninja Captains as approachable as it should, I found that I had to make some rather hard arm gestures to get the game to respond and ended up with some arm ache – not something you’d want younger kids doing I’d have thought. The presentation of Ninja Captains for Wii is a little hit and miss, good graphics and sound do feature but hidden amongst some cheap looking 3D models, textures and off the shelf library sound effects.
If you’re on the market for a collection of mini games for the kids to keep them busy for a cold winters weekend then Ninja Captains on Wii is a safe bet; just don’t be surprised that they’ll probably want more Wii party games within a week or two. I award it 6 out of 10.
Related: Wii party games