Tired and Feathered
Kongzhong get so much right with Ninja Chicken – an appealing visual style, utterly delightful characters (think the Angry Birds with a manga twist), a bunch of OpenFeint powered extras, and a two-player versus mode – that it really is a shame the game’s central mechanic has all the sophistication and longevity of one of those educational, shape matching games for pre-schoolers.
Here’s the deal: As ninja chickens inexplicably trundle across the screen on a conveyor belt, with your finger, you place them into the correct zones. Different colored chickens must be matched with the coordinating dojo mats, evil pigs removed from play, and robo-chickens avoided. As you swipe your way through the game’s 40 stages and various difficulty levels, the action does speed-up considerably, and the developer attempts to mix things up a little by introducing power-ups and other distractions such as memory challenges into the game. It gets fast, and frantic, yet is seriously lacking in the fun department.
Now, I’m all for pick-up-and-play usability when it comes to iPhone games, but Ninja Chicken‘s repetitive match ’em up concept and one finger style of play is just far too simplistic to be lastingly compelling, and won’t provide much of a challenge to the majority of gamers.
To be honest, I’m confused by who exactly Ninja Chicken is meant to be aimed at; the stylish graphics and OpenFeint integration seem to suggest the casual crowd, who download cheap and cheerful little time-wasters in their thousands, but the mind-numbingly basic gameplay isn’t likely to appeal to anyone over the age of two and lacks the addictiveness of simplistic smash-hits such as Angry Birds or Doodle Jump. On the other hand, I don’t know (m)any toddlers that are all that interested in battling their way to the top of global leaderboards or, indeed, that own iPhones for that matter.
Overall, Ninja Chicken is most definitely a looker, but it’s just too shallow to wholeheartedly recommend. I really did adore the titular characters though, and if they were to return in, say, something like a physics puzzler or line-drawing game, I would download it in a heartbeat. Here’s hoping…
iFanzine Verdict: Ninja Chicken’s high production values, charming characters, and vibrant art style are wasted on a tired match ’em up mechanic and repetitive, uninspiring gameplay. The game looks and sounds fantastic, but isn’t all that fun to play sadly.