Given the season, I tried this week to find a useful organisation app to help with your Christmas shopping.
I tried, honestly, but they’re all just so terribly dull – so instead I reviewed Devil Ninja (Xmas), because it sounded like way more fun.
Devil Ninja is a pretty standard 2d side-scrolling game. You run along, jumping when you need to, swiping at werewolves and… harpies? Vampire bats? I’m not sure what those enemies are supposed to be.
Some sort of monster. Along the way you get the odd power-up which swaps your sword out for shurikens, or one that looks like a fireball which I keep missing each time I play through.
There’s probably a story about who’s sending all these monsters to attack you, and why exactly you’re a ‘devil’ ninja and not just a ninja, but really all that stuff is irrelevant. You’re crossing the screen, you have a sword, and those werewolves are in your way. That’s all you need to know.
The addition of (Xmas) to the Devil Ninja franchise consists mostly of snowy backgrounds, new wreathy menu graphics, and a Santa hat on your playable ninja. When you kill enemies you’re rewarded with wrapped Christmas presents, but I assume these just replace some other reward from the previous game (probably coins or something).
The holiday affectations might seem a bit out of place, but the practice of awkwardly shoehorning Christmas into an existing scenario is pretty well established. Look at pretty much any TV series and there’ll be that one yuletide episode.
And not just for series like Friends or Saved by the Bell – even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had ‘We Wish You a Turtle Christmas’. If they’re not too cool to wear the silly hats then neither is Devil Ninja, I’m sure.
The controls are very basic – you’ve got the jump button to jump, an attack button to swing your sword (or throw your shuriken if you’ve upgraded), and a third button that looks like the wheel of a boat.
I assumed this was the button for the settings menu until I pressed it by accident, the screen started to shake, and Santa Claus charged across on his sleigh killing all the visible enemies. This is probably the most pleasant surprise I’ve had from any app I’ve reviewed to date.
Like 2d games from your childhood, Devil Ninja (Xmas) is fast and unsympathetic. Get the timing wrong when you swipe a werewolf or jump over an obstacle and that’s it for you. Maybe modern console games have made me soft (or maybe I’m just not very good at video games), but I found myself dying a lot.
The game is free but it has ads on the screen to make up for it. I didn’t find them getting in the way though, so that’s fine. It’s not an amazing game but if Christmas lunch with the relatives gets a bit dull, you might be grateful for the distraction.