Jul 23, 2012
Ninjatown: Trees of Doom is not a “new” game per se, having been released back in May 2010 on iOS. It has only recently hit the shores of Android, bringing with it a shift in business model: it’s all about free to play now.
The core game is still the same: jump from side to side as one of Shawnimals’ adorable ninjas, trying to avoid the deadly purple goo boiling on the walls, and the red guys that float around and occasionally use blow darts. Players tap the oppositde side of the screen to jump to that side, with longer taps jumping higher, or holding on the current side of the screen to climb upward. There’s both a standard “get as far as possible” mode along with one where players are racing against a constantly ticking clock that can have time added to it at certain milestones.
The free-to-play additions to the game are surprisingly well-handled. Thanks to the game’s genesis as a paid title before in-app purchases were en vogue, it’s really just possible to ignore coins altogether and play the game exactly as it was meant to be played originally. However, now coins can be spent on cosmetic upgrades, along with consumable items like extra lives.
The game is still as fun as it was before in 2010. Also, if I’m going to spend virtual currency on something, it’s going to be a life-saving mustache. The mechanics are simple enough for anyone to pick up on, though there’s still a subtlety in tapping longer to jump higher that doesn’t always work out well when in tight spaces, or outrunning the clock. The game is extremely cute and colorful Landing on a branch just feels stiff, because there’s only so many spots to jump to. I mean, it’s smart, but it just doesn’t exactly feel like the smoothest implementation.
While there’s a lot of skepticism regarding free to play games, what Ninjatown: Trees of Doom represents the best possibility: it allows fun games to be dsitributed at no cost to players, only asking for optional payments in return.