Should I Buy? – Super House of Dead Ninjas

Before Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure I was never a platforming fan, but I had to try that one out because, well, take a look for yourself:

So I gave Super House of Dead Ninjas a try on Steam when it was their Daily Deal and I am so very glad I did.

SHoDN is a retro throwback to 2d platformers full of fast paced ninj-ing where you die a lot A. Lot. It’s a quasi-sequel to the flash game House of Dead Ninjas, so if you liked that this is strictly an improvement.

The premise is simple. There’s a giant tower full of monsters which many people enter in hopes of finding great treasure, but never return from. You play as Ninjette, a female ninja not looking for fame or fortune but instead investigating the disappearance of the legendary One-Armed Ninja who previously entered the tower.

You progress down the 350 floors of the tower, fighting enemies and bosses, collecting powerups and trying not to die. Ninjette is certainly fleet of foot, and she needs to be as you’re on a timer that summons Death should you let it run out. This is where the principle difficulty of the game rears its head. Taken by themselves, the individual enemies and traps are really kinda easy and predictable. But you need to keep moving at high speed, meaning it’s your own damn fault if you forgot that enemy needs two hits, or you didn’t press the down attack in time, or you weren’t patient enough to wait that extra fraction of a second.

Luckily this isn’t a one-hit death sort of game. You get a large life bar and three continues, with no insta-deaths in the game. Though death is frequent, the fact that it stems from your own mistakes instead of some ridiculous challenge makes it that much less frustrating, and when you’re ‘in the zone’ and kicking ass, you’ll feel like an unstoppable badass.

But this alone isn’t enough to give SHoDN enough replay value to justify the purchase. That honour goes to the horde of unlockable weapons. Ninjette has a melee weapon, a ranged weapon, a bomb and a magic spell at her disposal. Each of these has a range of different weapons to unlock and experiment with.  Do you want to use the Katana of Miffed Barbarians for that extra attack power, or will the longer reach and speed of the Taming Whip of Many Nuns win you over?

Trying to unlock all the new toys to play with will give you a good few hours more play time. Some are easy, some very difficult. Combined with the other unlockables like greater ammo capacity and new powerups, SHoDN has a lot to find.

As for the graphics, they’re a kind of pseudo 8-bit that look pretty darn good. They are kinda completely cheating by doing things not possible with 8-bit hardware, but the game looks great and the soundtrack is atmospheric and enjoyable. A free copy of the soundtrack for download is also one of the unlockables, by the way.

The game isn’t really that long. The main tower can be completed in well under half an hour if you’re good at the game, and while there are two difficulty settings and a few bonus areas this game is all about the replay.

The hardware requirements for SHoDN are low enough that you won’t need a powerful machine to run it. Though if your machine is really low end, you may still get some lag. SHoDN is real cheap on Steam, and easily worth the low price for plans of platformers and of hard, retro games.


Should I Buy? – Tiny Bang Story

Seeing as I have a modicum of disposable income and a wealth of free time, I’ve been able to download and play a few more games from Steam. The latest of these was Tiny Bang Story, a little indie game both developed and published by Colibri Games. It’s an cute little puzzle game based on a tiny world.

When you start the game up you see a catastrophe break the world into jigsaw pieces, and then enter the one remaining section to start rebuilding the world. Without using a written or spoken word, the game teaches you that you’ll need to both collect the twenty five puzzle pieces scattered around the area, collect certain objects and solve a few puzzles.

Bottle Lake

It's rather pretty, isn't it?

So basically, it’s a pixel-hunter with the occasional Professor Layton-esque digression. And as that, it works pretty well. You’ll probably spend most of the time hunting down the last few items, and they try really hard to hide some of them in such innocuous places that you’ll probably not notice them. Despite how relaxing the music is, this can be really frustrating.

Still, the design is quite clever and charming. The world has a pleasant aesthetic the never quite conforms to conventional proportions. The environments you travel to all keep the design consistent, making the game flow very well from one location to the next. Really, hats off to the designer on this one. The way that no words were needed at all, that everything about the gameplay was conveyed through and based around the game’s visuals is both impressive and genuinely artistic.

The game isn’t very long, the five sections will probably take under an hour each, unless you’re particularly bad at puzzles or you run across items that’re hidden in obnoxious places. After each section, you’ll have to put the puzzle pieces together to create the next one. It doesn’t seem to matter if you don’t actually collect them all though, a couple of times I accidentally triggered the end of a section without getting them all and I had no problem proceeding.

Despite all the fun I had with it, I’m still a bit sore about paying £8 for it. The only reason it lasted me longer than a day was because I only played one section a day. As for replay value, I’m not sure yet. The charming aesthetic will probably have me going back in a few weeks or months to experience it again but I’m still not convinced it’s the right deal.

If you’re looking for something quick and simple you can enjoy casually in short bursts then this fulfils those criteria. If you’d like to try it out, then you can download a demo from Steam that lets you play the entire first area.

Price: £7.99 (Steam)

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