For the most part, the Nintendo DS version of Ninja Reflex is identical to its Wii sibling - which is to say, they're both shamefully sparse. All six - not twenty-six, not forty-six, but just six - ninja-themed minigames from the Wii release made it into the DS cartridge. On top of that, the gorgeous Japanese inspired graphics and goofy spoken dialogue survived the transition pretty much intact.
Other than the fact that there should be far more of them, there's nothing wrong with the minigames. Dragging the stylus across the touch screen to swing swords, hurl throwing stars, and swing nunchucks is kind of fun, even if the targets are mostly just cardboard cutouts and pieces of fruit. The tongue-in-cheek presentation is totally charming too. Different 3D environments mimic ancient Japan and a nutball sensei vocally delivers hokey eastern wisdom at length before each challenge.
A silly interactive meditation guide is included as a bonus. Sensei's gruff voice does a nice job of talking you through a meditation session, but is that really the sort of thing you want to do when you fire up a collection of competitive minigames?
As you can imagine, playing six minigames by yourself gets old in a hurry. The saving grace for the Wii version of Ninja Reflex is its multiplayer mode, which lets four people take up Wii remotes and compete simultaneously. The DS game also has a multiplayer mode, but instead of spreading the love across multiple systems wirelessly, it employs a single system setup that makes players pass just the one system around and take turns. It's nice that players don't have to fiddle with extra hardware or buy multiple cartridges, but taking turns is way less satisfying than fighting over the same on-screen targets in real time.
Six minigames for $30 is a tough sell anyway. Seriously, Mario Party DS gives you 74 for only a few bucks more, and its multiplayer mode gives you the option of sharing a single system or linking together multiple systems to compete simultaneously. When you do the math, Ninja Reflex just doesn't add up.
Mar 11, 2008