It’s a little nerve-wracking to witness a Nitrome game launch. Lately, the studio is pumping out games at the rate of a spring rabbit popping out baby bunnies, so you unconsciously hold your breath and pray that they don’t trip and fall. After all, there’s something just so gosh-darn likeable about the team, its games, and its bright pixel art.
Thankfully, we’re safe for at least one more title. Green Ninja: Year of the Frog is a highly enjoyable action / puzzle game. Its only real problem is the frequency of its in-game ads, which kick you in the face like the game’s web-toed star.
Green Ninja’s story obviously isn’t its most important feature, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s kind of weird. The titular Green Ninja finds himself captured by slug-things, and is about to be roasted and eaten. Thankfully, Froggie breaks free and the butt-kicking festivities begin in earnest.
Green Ninja features dozens of levels with a kung-fu motif. Incidentally, there are dead frogs and piles of bones in the backgrounds of many of these levels, which speaks of the grim fate Froggie escaped (and the grim fate his fellows didn’t escape). That’s some dark stuff — but then again, we’re talking about a game from the same studio that gave us Cooped Up.
There isn’t much time to ponder the implications of the background decoration, however. You have some slugs to kick.
You make Froggie execute a flying kick by swiping in the direction you want him to travel. He’ll fly in a straight line until you meet an object, whether it’s spring-pad, a floating block, or the opposite wall. You can’t change his direction until he comes to a complete stop, and in order to progress, you need to find a way to give all the slugs in each level a taste of your foot.
Green Ninja plays a bit like the sliding ice block puzzles that are popular in modern Legend of Zelda games, though Nitrome’s obviously adds lots of little tricks and tweaks to help the experience stand on its own.
Things like one-way doors, blocks that move when they’re landed on, the aforementioned spring-pads, and other “accessories” bring a new and different kind of challenge to each room. Sometimes swiping around willy-nilly will clean up a level, but more often you have to put a bit of thought into what you’re doing.
It’s worth the effort, because kicking slugs is addictive. Not just in the way that dishing out ninja-style vengeance is addictive, either; the actual act of kicking butt is satisfying. When your foot connects with a baddie, you feel the weight of your opponent. You can even “stack” bad guys as you fly into them, then send them all to an undignified death when you hit a wall. Good times.
Green Ninja: Year of the Frog does have ads a-plenty, which can be annoying to slog through when you just want to re-start a level you mucked up. That said, ads can be eliminated for an in-app purchase of $1.99. You may well find the purchase worthwhile. This is one bad froggie, and we mean that in a good way.
Now how about another platforming game, Nitrome?