Publisher: Bounding Box Games / Developer: Bounding Box Games / Platform: XBLIG

You know those physics-based flash games that seem to have grown in popularity for no real reason?  The ones where you control a cannon, or a guy with a bow, or some kind of shooty-thing, and you have to hit a specific target (or targets) by aiming with your mouse?  Star Ninja is kinda like that.  But with an Xbox controller.  And a ninja.

Pirates, too!

In Star Ninja you control a ninja who needs to throw a limited amount of throwing stars (or shurikens) in order to kill all the pirates onscreen.  The shurikens travel in a straight line but will ricochet off most surfaces and travel through pirates as it kills them (and they fall over into rather entertaining ragdolls).  Certain objects interact with the shurikens in unique ways, such as a wooden crate that the shuriken can become lodged in and fall over, or hanging chains that can be cut and fall down, killing any unfortunate pirates below.  The fair amount of unique objects makes it seem like they could be put together to form some rather fun puzzles, but unfortunately for the most part they are used as nothing more than clutter.

That was one thing that bothered me about Star Ninja: the level design.  The levels aren’t bad, they just aren’t very interesting.  Very few times have levels been set up to provide any sort of “a-ha” moment, where everything just sort of clicks together.  Instead, it just sort of seems like a lot of the levels were just sort of thrown together, forcing you to try over and over again to figure out which random direction your last shuriken is supposed to bounce in to kill that one oddly-placed pirate.

Some people may like that kind of thing, moving your cursor over by a quarter-inch and throwing another star to see if maybe, just maybe, it’ll bounce in just the right direction to hit that damn corner.  Personally I think if the levels were designed with a more specific idea in mind, using the unique objects in fun ways, Star Ninja could’ve been something really unique rather than just another “Kill X things from this position” game.

Now, Star Ninja isn’t a bad game.  It works, it doesn’t look terrible, and watching a dead pirate’s body cartoonishly fling itself and kill another pirate by landing on it is quite entertaining.  it just doesn’t really do much to make itself very unique or interesting, other than the fact that you play as a ninja killing pirates.  Which is pretty cool.