Ninja Reflex Review for the Nintendo Wii

Ninja Reflex Review for the Nintendo Wii

Ninja Reflex aims to improve your reaction time to ninja-like levels. It sounds simple enough, right? Well, it is a simple premise, but there’s some pretty smart gameplay behind this simplistic idea. And if you think this game is only going to test your ability to hit buttons quickly, then you are quite mistaken. The game uses party-style mini-games to test and strengthen your reflexes in several ways. And the good news is that these mini-games are actually quite fun, and don’t suffer from the repetitiousness that many other games in the emergent “self-improvement” genre suffer from.

Ninja Reflex screenshot

Ninja Reflex starts off by having you select a ninja-style name, which essentially consists of an adjective and a noun. You have a whole bunch to choose from, and some of the combinations end up being pretty funny. I ended up choosing Lucky Wind at the beginning and then changing my name to Giggling Bamboo and Orange Apple as the game progressed. And if you’ve got a real flair for ninja names, the good news is that you can unlock more ninja names as you progress in the game, and the final result is over 25,000 possible ninja names!

After you have picked your super-cool ninja name, you begin the game as a white belt ninja. The goal of the game is to progress all the way to a third degree black belt. You do this by completing a certain number of mini-games at your current belt level and then taking a belt test to unlock the next belt difficulty level. As you get higher belt levels, the mini-games you have already played become harder, and you also unlock new minigames.

The way that the mini-games are structured, however, is very cohesive. There are six different categories that all of the mini-games fall into: Hotaru (firefly), Koi, Nunchaku, Katana, Shuriken, and Hashi (flies). Each of these different categories has a variety of different mini-games that follow a certain theme that has its own unique reflex-inspired control scheme. All of these modes also have separate multiplayer functions that support up to four players!

The Hotaru mode is the most basic of the six, and has you focusing on the screen and pressing the A button as soon as you see fireflies. However, as you unlock more difficult mini-games, the Hotaru level becomes unexpectedly challenging. One of the most memorably frustrating mini-games involved pressing the button exactly one second ( +/- 0.01) after the firefly appears. And trust me, saying “Mississippi” is not as effective as you may have been led to believe!

Ninja Reflex screenshot

The Koi set of mini-games has you tracking and catching Koi out of a stream. You have to carefully put your hand on top of a fish and follow it until part of its body comes out of the water. When that happens, you have to press the A and B buttons quickly without hitting to water to catch the fish. Different mini-games will have you tracking different kinds of koi or chasing down one specific koi. This mini-game category is probably the simplest and easiest throughout the game, but it is extremely fun, and is great if you are frustrated with one of the other minigame categories.

Nunchaku has you wielding a pair of Nunchucks and breaking objects that are hurled at you at an infrequent pace. You are able to control the nunchuck by initially waving your Wii-mote around in a figure-eight motion to get your momentum going and then swinging in the direction of the object to break it. Different games in this category include survival challenges and a baseball-inspired challenge that penalizes you for taking unnecessary swings and “striking out.” This mini-game is quite challenging, especially with those who (like myself) struggle with depth perception on-screen.

Ninja Reflex screenshot

Katana, as you might expect, is the obligatory sword-wielding mode. But instead of having you swing your sword at oncoming objects, the katana mode tests your blocking reflexes. You will be confronted with a varying number of oni (goblin warriors), and you’ll have to block all of their attacks successfully in order to have the chance to vanquish them. In order to block, you have to follow several on-screen prompts that will have you quickly swinging the Wii-mote right, left or overhead. After you have successfully blocked all of the oni’s attacks, then you will be able to eliminate them with a swift upward swing of the Wii-mote. There is not a whole lot of variation in the katana collection of mini-games, and most focus on either survival or vanquishing a certain amount of enemies.

Ninja Reflex screenshot

The shuriken set of mini-games entail throwing shuriken with deadly ninja-accuracy at moving targets. You are able to lock on to your target via the B button and then you release your shuriken by swinging your Wii-mote forward. The faster you swing, the faster your shuriken will reach the target. But there aren’t only rival ninja targets on the playing field. There are also geishas, which you need to be aware of and avoid hitting. Mini-games in this category mainly focus on speed and precision.

The final mini-game category is the Hashi mode, and out of all of the different mini-game categories, this one has to be my favorite. This game has you wielding a pair of chopsticks and catching flies using the A and B buttons. Since you are a peaceful ninja and you don’t want to hurt the poor flies, you must put them in a bowl so that they can be released later. The different games in this category include catching flies of certain colors and catching “super” flies, which are faster and more agile than your average fly.

So as you can see, there is a lot to do in Ninja Reflex. And after all of this hard work honing your ninja reflexes, you could probably use a moment to relax. And luckily, Ninja Reflex can help you with that too! There is a meditation mode that leads you through either guided meditation or timed meditation. This is great for people who don’t meditate regularly. It is a calming experience, and it is my opinion that meditation is an excellent habit to get into. And while Ninja Reflex does not feature any deep meditation exercises, it does have basic breathing technique meditation, which is a great start

As far as visuals go, this title is fairly good. Probably the best facet of this game’s visuals is the color scheme, which is amazingly vibrant. There are a few texturing issues, but by and large this game looks great. The sound in Ninja Reflex is also pretty good, especially the voice acting for the Sensei character who leads you through the game. Music is not amazing or anything, but it doesn’t distract from the gameplay, which is definitely something to look for in a title such as this.

Ninja Reflex is one of an increasing number of games designed to help you in life. While a game like Brain Age will try to make you smarter and a game like Cooking Mama will try to turn you into a chef, Ninja Reflex has a simpler goal: to train your reflexes. Though it may be a simplistic goal, Ninja Reflex is a great game to play in small increments to try to improve your reaction time. And while it does not give you specific ways to improve or certain recommended mini-games, it is nonetheless a blast to play. I would heartily recommend this game especially to families, as the multiplayer mode makes reflex training fun, and the meditation modes are something everyone can participate in. So what are you waiting for? Go hone your ninja reflexes!

Graphics are sharp and color scheme is vivid. Textures are a little iffy, but other than that, this Wii title looks quite nice. 4.8 Control
Extremely intuitive and responsible. This game excels simply because of its precise and manageable control. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Voice acting is pretty good, and music is fairly inoffensive 4.0

Play Value
This one is great in small fifteen minute daily doses. Who knows, maybe you’ll be a Ninja Reflex master soon!

4.3 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Develop the reflexes of a Ninja and test your skills against up to three friends.
  • Master eleven belt ranks on your way to attaining your 3rd Degree Black Belt.
  • Choose a unique Ninja name from over 25,000 combinations.
  • Calm your body, mind, and spirit with meditation lessons from your Sensei.

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