Mini Ninjas - Hiro & FutoWhen an evil samurai warlord captures the creatures of the forest and transforms them into his mindless warriors, the ninja master sends his best ninja to stop him. But when they all mysteriously disappear he sends you.

You play as the pint-sized hero aptly named Hiro. And although you start off relatively weak, you quickly learn a special jutsu known as Kuji that allows you to possess animals, control nature, and even slow time.

But even with all his abilities there are some tasks too big for Hiro. That’s where your friends come in. Initially you’ll start your journey with only your best friend Futo but as you progress you’ll free four additional friends who will prove invaluable. None of Hiro’s friends know Kuji but that’s okay. It would be redundant & only serve to minimalize Hiro. Instead their abilities are entirely weapon based and include: Futo’s giant mallet, Kunoichi’s spear, Shun’s bow & arrow, Tora’s claws, and Suzume’s flute!? While a flute may not sound like the weapon of a ninja, it’s actually one of the most powerful weapons in the game. It can incapacitate everyone within range of its hypnotic music. And watching your enemies dizzily dance is just one of many moments in a game that screams kawaii (that’s cute for you gaijin).

Not all the humor in this game is quite so cute though. You can gather ingredients to make weapons like cherry bombs and burping potions. And if you think that’s foul then you’ll love the BIG boss whose sole attack is his farts!

Mini Ninjas is a casual gamer’s dream.

Everything about the game just feels so user friendly. Selecting items or switching characters pauses the game and using special abilities slows down your enemies, giving you plenty of time to precisely choose your attack. There’s no need for confusing maps since mediating literally points you in the right direction with an arrow that appears above your head. And unlike some games, coins and other items don’t disappear so you don’t have to worry about losing them. In fact if walk away without picking them up, they’ll follow you. But perhaps the most convenient feature is the option to change the difficulty level DURING a level!

The only criticism I possibly have is that your skills are never fully utilized. None of your stealth abilities are ever tested or required (besides the tutorial). And possessing animals, while fun, serves no purpose other than helping you sniff out ingredients. It’s a missed opportunity to create unique objectives that require them to be used.

WORD OF WARNING: I did find one programming error in the game. When trying to enter the flooded Water Castle you must hook the Koi (big fish) and hold on to it in order to get past the rushing water at the castle’s gate. Once you achieve this make sure not to exit the gate. If you do, it will say the Koi will respawn but it LIES (I spent 30 minutes looking). This means you’ll have to restart the whole level, which ironically would’ve wasted half the time.

Although you can run through the game in under 10 hours, the ability to replay any previous level (at any difficulty) makes for a lot of game. But even if you’re not one of those people who likes replaying levels (—>like this guy<---), you'll definitely want to have another go at "escape the avalanche" which is a lot more enjoyable when you're not desperate to get to the next level as you will die many, many times (see trailer below).