One of the easiest ways to irritate a bunch of game journalists is to make them sit through a presentation for a kiddie game. Unless, of course, that kiddie game is so funny and/or old school fun-looking that it might make said game journalists wish they had a kid of their own to play it with. Which is what happened when, at an event in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, Eidos and Warner Brothers Interactive showed off Mini Ninjas, a quirky action game from IO Interactive (a.k.a. the Hitman and Kane & Lynch people).
A third-person action game, Mini Ninjas cast you as a bunch of junior warriors who must save the world from an evil (and magical) samurai. Which, as you’d expect, involves a lot of hackin’ and a slashin’ with your katana.
But there’s actually more to it. When not going all Ginsu on guys, you can actually take over the bodies of animals, and use their special skills. Which not only means you can become a wild boar, who can run over packs of your enemies, but you can also turn into a chicken and use your pecking skills to find hidden treasures. In fact, all of the bad guys you face are actually animals who’ve been turned by the evil samurai into bad guys, so you’re not even killing them when you hack and/or slash them, you’re actually returning them to their animal form.
The game also features a number of different types of the titular ninjas to play as, though you actually have to rescue them as the game progresses before you can hot swap between them. When the game starts, you’re actually limited to Hiro, a classic ninja type, and Hiro’s BFF, a burly type who speaks softly and carried a big hammer. Other ninjas you free have their own attacks, some of which include magic spells or the ability to knock guys over by curling up into a ball.
But the main ninja (or at least that’s how it seemed from the demo) is Hiro, who not only has all the attacks you’d expect from a miniature ninja, but can also do some stealth moves as well. Hiro even has a rather special hat, one that not only keeps the sun out of his eyes but also doubles as a sled and a boat.
Even the game’s graphics are cooler than you’d expect, as the game has a stylized look that’s kind of cartoony, but in a more Samurai Jack way than say The Fairly Oddparents (you can practically hear the toy deals and animated movie plans being ironed out). Coupled this with the fast action gameplay, and you might just have a game that adults will play both with their kids, and on their own when their kids ain’t looking. We’ll know more when the game is released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PC, and DS later this year.