Would you like to have the speed, skills, courage and stealth to be a Ninja? Thought so, me too! If EA are keeping to their promises then this game will have you trained and ready to Ninja about the place after just a series of mini-game challenges. Apparently there is now no need to fly to Japan and lock yourself away in a monastery for years without anything to distract you from the dedicated pursuit; all you need is a Wii, a Wii Remote and copy of Ninja Reflex. Thanks to Matt I now have all three and so embarked on the adventure of a lifetime (please note: sarcasm).
Before I started on my adventure of a lifetime I had to choose a Ninja name from the many available, I chose Misty Maverick because it sounded pretty cool. Further into the game you can unlock more combinations of names if you wish to change it to something different later on. From hear you are first classed as a white belt, sort of a Ninja Noob.
Ninja Reflex is categorised into 6 Ninja Lessons which require you to use the Wii Remote in various ways:
- Shuriken: Throwing Shurikens at stationary and moving targets by locking on with B and flicking the remote. This is fun for two minutes but loses its appeal quickly when you realise how easy it is.
- Koi: Catching fish with your hands alone. Point your Wii Remote towards the screen to hover your hand over the water and when a fish rises to the surface grab it as quickly as possible. Not much fun to be had here, grabbing and pointing at a lake full of fish just feels pointless.
- Hotaru: Watch the screen closely and press the A button as soon as you see a firefly. Not very different from the fish game except that you don’t even get to move a cursor around.
- Haish: Point the Wii Remote at the screen and catch flies with your chopsticks using the A and B button to pinch, place them in the spinning bowl without hurting or dropping them. Funnily enough this one isn’t too bad, a simple and effective minigame but not worth the money for this alone.
- Katana: As enemies charge towards you, use your Wii Remote to Block, dodge and them. This mode is a bit like the sword fighting in the Wii launch title Red Steel, only not as good.
- Nunchaku: Move the Wii Remote in a figure of eight shape to swing the Nunchuck, swing outwards when the time is right to smash the boxes and fruit heading towards you. A quite frustrating and boring minigame this one, I found it awkward and uninteresting.
Each of these Ninja Lessons is spilt into 6 minigames (two of which are unlocked from the start) for example; when you’re catching Fireflies in the first Hotaru lesson you have to just press the A button when you spot one, in a later lesson you have to press A only when you see a certain colour of firefly. Personally I would’ve liked a bigger difference between the different modes as it feels a bit cheap, but it’s better than nothing. Each time you complete a lesson category and it’s minigames you are rewarded with a jewel and when you have five of these you can take a Belt Challenge to attempt to move up a rank, here you have to take part in three ultra hard mini games getting ranked from A to F based on your performance. If you succeed you are presented with a new belt and then each Ninja Lesson is infused with another two game variations (woohoo) that were previously locked, if you fail you’ll have to go back and retrain your skills on the lessons you aren’t so good at. Then, if you’re still enjoying yourself, repeat this process another seven or eight times until you manage to become a black belt Ninja Reflex master.
This actually will be harder than I am suggesting as the minigames do become progressively harder as you unlock them. Even the mini games you’ve completed previously will have their difficulty raised as your Belt rank increases. All of your progress will be neatly recorded in a journal if you ever feel the need to refer to it, I didn’t, but you might.
If you get tired of that you could always head over to the meditation room and chill out, here you can relax in a serene scene and either follow the relaxing instructions from your instructor, or choose to do it without him and meditate by yourself, personally I’d prefer to go to bed and catch forty winks with my pillow!
The graphics and animation whilst being pretty and detailed could have easily been generated on inferior consoles such as the Playstation 2 and Gamecube and don’t push the Wii to its limits at all. The sound effects and voice acting are fine, nothing special but has everything you would expect.
I’m sad to have to inform you that whilst this is an atmospheric title with some good ideas, the potential hasn’t been realised and there’s not much fun to be had here. Even in multiplayer mode where up to four players can take part these games just feel rather dull and offer nowhere near the enjoyment that you could get from similar minigames included in titles such as Rayman Raving Rabbids and Wario Ware Smooth Moves. I cannot give this more than an average 4 out of 10.