Developers Vanillaware have created a mothers-lock-up-your-daughters looker; a rich, hand-drawn 2D world, a warm bath of colour that begs your eyes to soak in it. Like the recent Wario Land, 2D enables the kind of intricate art design that would crush a 3D game. The demo opens in a dark bamboo forest %26ndash; pea-green stalks in the foreground parallax-scrolling against a static background to give the impression of depth. It%26rsquo;s a great impression too.
Enough ogling, time for hobblin%26rsquo;. Your ninja %26ndash; you can choose from female ninja Momohime or manja Kisuke %26ndash; is accosted in short bursts by clumps of enemies that must be offed before the fight%26rsquo;s graded. Much like in Viewtiful Joe, combat boils down to a relatively slim move list applied with surgical precision. Bashing the A button deals out crude swordings, though prodding up on the analogue stick sends you skywards, where swipes and leaps can create massive aerial combos.
Our sword breaks. No fear: we have two more. As in Onechanbara, the blade dulls over time, so you must rotate to enable recovery. Adding to the strategy, each blade activates a different special move. Our red sword %26ndash; we%26rsquo;ll call him Stabby Joe %26ndash; rips into a single foe multiple times. The long blue blade, Lanky McStabberson, enables our ninja to split into five and pull off a nifty aerial roly-poly. Special moves eat half the blade%26rsquo;s health, though, so should be used sparingly.
We enter a quiet town %26ndash; no enemies, but plenty of doors with flashing entrance arrows. There%26rsquo;s an RPG edge to proceedings that gives you good cause to explore every nook and cranny of the environment. Hoping for a health potion we enter a friendly looking house, only to find it belongs to the most ill-tempered ghost in Japan, who dedicates the next 30 seconds to kicking our exquisitely penciled ass all over his lounge.