Mini Ninjas is a decidedly different turn for developer IO Interactive, maker of the Hitman series. This action adventure is low on gruesome assassinations and high on lighthearted fun, but that doesn’t mean fans of stealth-kill simulators, or anyone else for that matter, should skip over it. Mini Ninjas is an approachable and enjoyable game with a charming art style that brings its lively world to life. There are a few kinks that present some minor annoyances, but they don’t detract too much from what is overall a delightfully plucky adventure.
The story is a straight-up ninja road trip. It follows the young ninja Hiro and his portly friend Futo as they embark on a mission to find their four missing ninja pals and stop an evil samurai warlord from taking over the world. On their long journey to the warlord’s headquarters, the two little ninjas will find their friends, learn new spells, and battle magic samurai. There’s not much narrative, but what’s there is entertaining and often humorous. The cinematics that are unlocked when you find each ninja aren’t included in the campaign for some reason, but they’re worth seeking out in the main menu and watching. They’re extremely well produced, beautifully animated, and funny to boot.
Mini Ninjas is a linear adventure split up across sprawling levels. However, the journey is more than a simple waltz from point A to point B. The broad and inviting level design encourages exploration and creates the illusion of a lush, open world. Each level has a sprinkling of hidden paths that lead to shrines, enemy encampments, or collectibles, some of which are used to mix helpful potions. You’ll also find shortcuts that can lead you around a confrontation, and scenic paths that are as treacherous as they are beautiful. The level design does a great job of making the game feel like one cohesive journey, a singular quest to rescue friends and defeat the bad guys.