This ‘Chop Chop’ sequel packs a strong punch
The ninja is back, and more determined than ever! Chop Chop Ninja World marks a return to the mobile series’ addictive mix of platforming and beat-em-up gameplay. An incredibly ambitious title, this sequel combines traditional sidescrolling levels with exciting social features to make for a richer, more expansive experience throughout. The only question is: are you up for the challenge?
The story in Chop Chop Ninja World is basically the same as the first Chop Chop Ninja game: rescue the princess from the hands of evil. You’ll meet a few NPCs here and there who send you on quests towards reaching this goal, but there’s no real emphasis on a deeper narrative here. The main difference in the sequel is its use of an open world format, as opposed to the linear Level 1-1, Level 1-2 progression that was used in the first game. Each story mission is spread out on a fantastic moving map that really puts your kingdom in perspective, and keeps track of how many coins and hidden gold stars you’ve collected in each area. The levels themselves are wonderfully varied with a surprising amount of depth the further you progress.
Everything about the level design, from the emphasis on verticality to the bright cartoony graphics, harkens back to the golden age of sidescrolling platformers on the Super Nintendo. The fighting and platforming segments are both perfectly balanced across every stage, and you’ll even meet the occasional environmental puzzle thrown in your way.
Two especially nice touches are the throwing mechanics, which let you heave boulders and crates at your foes, and the little blue prisoners you can rescue and use to activate switches, by drawing a path for them to walk with your finger. However, I ran into a few technical glitches in my time with the game, where my ninja would stall on a rock or a ledge and have it register as a death: forcing me to shell out more coins for an extra life.
The game has a slight learning curve when it comes to the controls. Seasoned platform veterans will want to move their ninja with their left thumb, while controlling his jumps and attacks with their right. Instead, the Chop Chop Ninja series uses a simpler touch-based system of movement: you tap on the screen where you want your ninja to move or punch, and move or punch he does. It’s a little awkward at first to play a platformer this way (especially for those trickier jumping segments), but once you get the hang of it, moving your ninja will become second nature, and the possibilities of where you can go are virtually endless.
To this end, the biggest strength of Chop Chop Ninja World is just how much you can actually do in the game. In addition to the core platforming stages, you can also complete dozens of shorter time trials and challenges to earn additional gold stars. There is a great kingdom-building aspect in the vein of social games, where you can buy and arrange a cluster of temples and dojos to your liking; doing so will unlock further challenges that you can take on. Players can even visit their friends’ kingdoms, and try to best their challenge scores for additional bonuses in their own game. It’s a really neat reward system, as it encourages players to visit their friends, and see how their skills match up against their fellow ninjas. However, the sheer amount of content and gameplay possibilities can be a little overwhelming at first for those players who just want to jump right in and punch people. It may take a few hours for some to get accustomed to the many ways of playing, and feel comfortable with everything this little game has to offer.
For a free-to-play title, Chop Chop Ninja World is extremely generous with how much it lets you play without having to pay. You may not get to use the cooler weapons at first like the samurai swords, but you’ll virtually be able to complete the entire game without paying a cent. The only time you’re really forced to spend your in-game currency is after you die. In this way, Chop Chop Ninja World rewards players for how well they play. But for those whose chopping skills could use a little fine tuning, you’ll still build up those coins fairly quickly to purchase extra lives.
The designation of “World” in its title just goes to show how large the scope of Chop Chop Ninja World truly is: from sidescrolling stages, to kingdom building, to competing in challenges with friends, fans of the series will find much to love here. The social aspects are a welcomed addition to this sequel, and a nice new direction for the series as a whole. I’m excited to see a more refined mix of these elements in future installments, and whatever new worlds we’ll have our ninja jumping to next!