|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sanzaru||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA / Nunchuck Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
Did you ever dream of becoming a ninja? EA gives you the opportunity to hone your skills and master the art of war without going to war at all. A ninja's goal is to maintain peace and harmony; they should not be inspired by destruction. Therefore, Ninja Reflex will teach you how to maintain your concentration and act just at the right time. It will also teach you to relax and find inspiration in old and traditional oriental arts.
The game is available for both Wii and DS. You'd think the game was tailored for Wii and its motion controls, but it also translated decently onto the DS. If you're choosing between the two versions, think about what you prefer: testing your accuracy and reflexes though more physical work or with the stylus. The rest of the game is pretty much the same, except the visuals were shrunk to fit the DS screen. The game is not awe-inspiring, but I thought some of the outdoor scenes looked nice, peaceful, and true-to-life, although in a cartoonish way. The presentation is very basic, with wood-like buttons to access the different challenges, and some of the same backdrops and landscapes repeated throughout the game. I found the teacher's poses pretty comical though, and the background music has a nice, zen feel that helps with concentration.
As soon as you start the game, the sensei (your master) will take over. He'll start explaining why it's important to find a balance between your mind and body and why everyone should fight for peace. The guy is long, skinny, and sports a long, gray beard, as you might expect. He also speaks with that great, genuine Japanese accent we're used to hearing in martial arts movies, video games, etc. I couldn't help but remember when I used to play a cool platforming game called I-Ninja a few years ago. Of course, this is a totally different game. I'd compare it to Brain Training, Flash Focus, etc. because it lacks a storyline and just focuses on the practice of numerous quick activities in order to train and adjust your human speed / reflex capabilities.
Following the teacher's advice, you'll start with the Shuriken mini-game. You'll throw metallic stars at the different targets that appear and move around the screen. You have to avoid hitting the random geishas that show up, as they're all innocent. You throw the shuriken by taping on the lower part of the screen and then drawing a quick line towards the target. The goal varies a little bit as you play: sometimes you should only hit enemies of a specific color, other times there's a time limit, etc.
Another mini-game is called Hashi: here you have to catch flies with the chopsticks. They buzz around the screen like in one of the Wario Ware mini-games, which you may or may not have played. You'll catch the flies by just hitting them with the stylus at the right time, and then you must drag them slowly into the spinning bowl placed below.
Koi is the third mini-game. Koi is a variety of the common carp; it's an ornamental kind of fish often used in Japanese gardens and ponds. In the mini-game you'll have to follow the koi slowly with the stylus until it rises to the surface and then tap it to catch it. The smaller the fish, the more points you get; there are only three different sizes though.
The Katana mini-game puts you in front of very ugly Onis (ghost demons). They'll run towards you one at a time with the sole intention of slashing you in two pieces. If you guard properly by drawing an upwards line or from left to right or right to left (depending on his attack), you'll stun the Oni, which allows you to slash him with the stylus before he escapes.