Technical issues can’t hold this bird back from becoming a top ninja
January’s Run Roo Run introduced the mobile gaming world to a great automatic side-scrolling platformer, and one of the best mobile games we’ve seen to date, period. Unfortunately the game was an iOS exclusive, so Android owners had to look elsewhere. MoMinis’ Ninja Chicken wants to change that. What this game lacks in bells and whistles is made up for with sharp controls, colorful visuals, and challenging (but fair) levels. Occasional technical issues are all that really hold it back.
Ninja Chicken, which also goes by the lengthier titleThe Funky Chicken Who Thought He Was a Ninja, is more than a story about a chicken… sort of. MoMinis has been kind enough to provide some backstory to our feathery friend. Apparently the chicken was in some sort of accident, and now suffers from chicken dementia. He believes that he is the greatest ninja of all, and is equipped with history’s greatest ninja powers. For some odd reason, none of the other chickens believe him, so he’s set off to prove to them he’s as great a ninja as he says.
Such a silly story is best accompanied by a silly game, and right from the get-go, MoMinis delivers. The controls are incredibly simple. You’re always running right, you jump with the right button, and slide with the left. If you hold the jump button, you jump higher, and if you press the slide button in the air, you’ll fall faster; a technique known as the force drop. It takes little effort to get use to the basic controls, but knowing when to use certain abilities (especially the force drop) will often determine the difference between success and failure.
There are currently 35 levels available (30 normal, and 5 bonus), and MoMinis promises us more are on the way. There’s not a ton of variety in the environments, however. As you progress, the background gets a bit darker and more obstacles appear, but the same odd theme of “farmland meets desert meets Super Mario Bros” remains constant.
Of course, you’ll hardly notice this as you’re playing. Quite frankly, Ninja Chicken is a complete blast. The levels start off easy, only requiring you to jump over and slide under hay bales. After every few levels another obstacle is integrated, including pipes that drop hay bales, cannons, holes in the ground, pitchforks, and cacti. The cacti are special in that they can be destroyed by shuriken. The moment you touch them, the throwing stars will shoot forward and destroy cacti.
These obstacles provide great challenge alongside your goals — four counters keep track of coins earned, nuts collected, eggs laid, and distance traveled. Each stage (including the bonus stage where all nuts are replaced with coins) will give you certain targets to hit on some or all of these categories. Collecting nuts and traveling a set distance are simple tasks, but collecting coins and jumping over nests to lay an egg will often require you to take the more difficult path through the hay bales.
You’ll really need to sharpen your reflexes and timing to succeed in the later levels, but this is made far more difficult by some frame rate issues and poor hitbox detection. Neither of these are a persistent issue, but they both seem to appear at the most inconvenient times. In the case of the frame rate dropping, I found it occurs most often in the later levels when there are more obstacles and hazards on screen. While the levels are randomly generated, they consist of various patterns and certain patterns seem more likely to cause frames to be dropped. You’ll likely fail quite a few times due to mistiming through frame rate issues. Hitbox detection is also a problem, but happens far less often. A few times while I played I was killed by landing right on top of a hay bale bridge, which you’re normally able to run on. These technical issues aren’t game-breaking, but they’re just annoying enough to become troublesome. Hopefully a future update addresses them.
Ninja Chicken uses MoMini’s PlayScape technology. Installing this free program allows you to complete the game’s missions (achievements) and access the bonus levels with coins you earn throughout the game. The missions add a slight challenge, though you’ll inadvertently get most of them as you play. The bonus levels are a fun way to get more coins, but don’t provide any extra challenge. Unless you feel like checking out more of MoMini’s other games, there’s no harm in passing on PlayScape.
Pound for pound, Ninja Chicken is a very enjoyable game. The frame rate and hitbox issues are the only real downsides to the experience. There are times when I found myself wishing the levels had a bit more variety (and wishing there were more levels), but this is countered by great controls and a nonexistent price tag. If you’re an Android user who’s into platformers, or are just looking for a free game to pass the time, Ninja Chicken is a great choice.