Microsoft dipped its toes in the Windows 8/Xbox One port pool with Halo: Spartan Assault, without receiving an overabundance of flak. This time, either taking a cue from rival Sony’s Vita experiment, or perhaps ignoring the unfortunate fate of the Ouya, MS ported Ninjabee’s Nutjitsu (May 8, 2014) from the Windows phone, giving it the Xbox One treatment. Will this stealthy Ninja Squirrel usher in a new age of indie game development for the new gen consoles, or will it be eaten by foxes?
In Nutjitsu, players assume the role of Risu, a ninja squirrel, who is tasked with retrieving acorns and scrolls from a rival clan of foxes, named the Kitsune, who have presumably taken the nuts by nefarious means. Gameplay is contained to one single-screen maze at a time, and level advancement unlocks new mazes to play. Objectives range from gathering nuts and scrolls, hanging out (the squirrel, not the nuts), or staying alive.
Players can choose either Ninja Missions or Survival Missions. Those who choose the Ninja Missions will have, alternately, five different objectives. Players will either collect acorns, collect a specific color of acorns, collect scrolls, collect acorns and put them in a bag, or loiter in a magic area for a specific amount of time. Survival missions only require you to continue breathing. Higher difficulty settings require you to collect more stuff or avoid more numerous enemies.
A Ninja’s Bag of Tricks
Risu is able to take two two items with him at the beginning of each level. I know what you’re thinking: I’ll take the Katana and a sack full of ninja stars. Nope, Nutjitsu is the first ninja game in the history of gaming where the ninja does not fight. This nutless rodent has to make do with 5 different items, which have to be purchased with in game coinage, and may only take two with him. These items are mapped to the A and B buttons.
You Knew it Was Coming...
Nutjitsu is a perfect example of why porting games from a phone to the XBone just doesn’t fucking work. First off, the screen doesn’t fit the tv. The game is centered in the middle of my flat-screen and only uses about 60% of my tv. Yeah, I bought that big flat screen so I would have a huge black border that gives the illusion of playing a video game on a 20” television that I dropped down a fucking well. Nutjitsu is the first game that can be snapped like an app, which is completely pointless since the gameplay is seriously affected and almost twenty percent of the screen is obscured while it is snapped. Watch me snap my ninja rodent game so I can make it even smaller. Who’s idea was that?
Can anyone out there think of another game where the protagonist picked up collectibles while evading enemies in a maze environment? Maybe I’ll ask my friends: Inky, Binky, Pinky, and Clyde. Apparently, there was an arcade game around in the 80s that resembles this phone game..oh, did I say phone game? I meant next-gen console game: the phone version of this game is free.
I was going to include some of own gameplay into this review, but this game does not allow recording by the XB1’s game DVR. That’s a shame, because you’re missing that one part where I cleared a level in 25 seconds.
Nutjitsu is a good looking game, if your eyesight is good enough to actually see it, but it is also a very boring game. The weapons suck, the music might as well be a fucking lullaby, and the one unique feature that the game possesses, the snap, is ruined by not being able to play it while snapped. It’s a perfect Windows phone game, it gives you something to play with when you’re in the bathroom...well, something else to play with anyway. The levels can be knocked down like dominoes, making it a perfect portable to keep the kids occupied in the car or to briefly entertain in line at the DMV, but unless you’re sitting on the can or waiting for a bus, there’s no reason to play Nutjitsu. Download it for free on your phone, but give this Pac Man clone a pass on the console.