Mini Ninjas – first-look

Mini Ninjas is set in feudal Japan, where a villain named as the Evil Samurai Warlord has returned after years of banishment and is bent on resurrecting an ancient plan to take over the world. Out of sight of the nation’s ninja peacekeepers, the Warlord builds himself an inconspicuous new pad he calls the Fortress of Doom, and sets about subverting the natural world using the power of Kuji magic.

Above screen taken from Xbox 360 version

His suspicion aroused by the disappearance of the local forest animals, a series of natural disasters and the aura of evil emanating from the general vicinity of the mysterious Lost Volcano, an elderly ninja boss chap sends out his best warrior to investigate. The warrior fails to return, and after exhausting his second, third and fourth choices in similar fashion, the master is left with only Hiro, a raw apprentice, and Futo, Hiro’s fat mate. Sensing that the end of the world is nigh, the master’s final roll of the dice is to reluctantly send Hiro and Futo on the same quest all his star pupils failed to survive.

Needless to say, Hiro turns out to be ‘the one’ and Futo is the ideal heavy-hitting backup, so perhaps the master’s judgment was a little off in the first instance. Anyway, those are the two characters you’ll have at your disposal for the entirety of the adventure, which should take upwards of 12 hours to complete, depending on how long players spend searching for optional hidden areas and secret items.

Above screen taken from Xbox 360 version

Mini Ninjas is essentially a 3D fighting game where waves of enemies line up to be smacked into oblivion by the skillful Hiro and hammer-wielding Futo. There are elements of exploration and stealth, but the biggest part of it – in the early stages we’ve seen – is all about using various unlockable combos to clobber your way through enemy patrols.

Because the Evil Samurai Warlord has been away for so long that he doesn’t have many evil samurai left to boss around, he’s been using his magic powers to convert innocent animals into his followers. Inside every enemy there’s something fluffy trying to get out, which is why the ninjas don’t want to hurt them. Beating an enemy into submission frees the creature inside – just like in Sonic the Hedgehog – and each type of soldier is built on a particular creature.