By Dean Moses
Games: Yasai Ninja (Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC) and Journey (PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4)
Ratings: Both are rated E for Everyone
Cost: Yasai Ninja $20 & Journey $14.99 (or free on PS4 if already owned on PS3)
Have you ever desired to play a game where vegetables are the protagonists? Have you ever wanted said game to be set in feudal Japan? If so, your very specific prayers have been answered with Yasai Ninja… or have they?
Yasai Ninja’s comic book like aesthetics and unique character designs are visually striking when first seen. The environments are colorful and the notion of playing as both an onion in a Samurai outfit and a nunchaku-wielding broccoli is endearing. Sadly, the imaginative concept and appealing graphics are the best things about this game.
The controls can be extremely clunky, the camera seems to whirl around on it’s own accord and the frame rate constantly dips, and this is just in the first few minutes of your adventure. As you traverse the landscape you will soon come across your first set of foes, sword touting, armor wearing cucumbers. The fact that this is a hack and slash adventure game, means the bulk of the experience will be spent fighting your enemies, yet this is no easy task—but not because of the difficulty. When you press the attack button, your character will adhere to your command by swinging his weapon in what appears to be slow motion, after a few times of rapidly repeating this action your foe will fall into pieces. Prepare to do this all over and over again for the rest of the game. When you come across an enemy—which is every few seconds—you will find yourself sighing in irritation. Video games are meant to be enjoyed, you are meant to get excited when it is time for battle, not get ready to hit the off switch.
Sharing Your Plate
Thankfully the monotony will be broken up by a few side-scrolling levels, this was by far where I had the most fun. Here you don’t have to worry about the cumbersome controls or tedious combat, you just have to run and execute well-timed jumps onto moving platforms. I can’t help but think this is what Yasai Ninja should have exclusively been—a platforming game.
A saving grace and a nice little addition to this unusual title is the ability to play with a friend in the same room. In a world of online gaming, few games have this functionality, so even with all of its problems some genuine fun could be had here with another player. Sadly sometimes it’s because you are laughing at the game’s quality instead of with its attempted humor.
Food for Thought
I truly wanted to like Yasai Ninja. I champion original thoughts, no matter how outside the box they may be, so this game seemed like it would be a real winner. However, due to poor game design this title has to be sent to the chopping board instead of the food pantry. Perhaps with more polish, better controls and more creative ideas, developer Reco Technology’s next game will be more fun.
Also released in July is the tranquil game, Journey. First playable on the PS3 three years ago, Journey has had a marginal graphical upgrade and is now available to download for the PS4. Best of all, if you already own it on the old console you can download it or free on your newest system.
You play as a hooded creature traveling through beautiful landscapes. While on your adventure you may come across other hooded beings, these are real people playing on their consoles somewhere out in the world. Although there is no voice chat, you will begin to feel a growing attachment for your new acquaintance as you explore together with no way of communicating other than your actions.
Art, as it is defined, is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, this perfectly sums up Journey, a true artistic, video game experience.