Right from the start of the Wii console's lifetime when WarioWare: Smooth Moves came out, the platform has been inundated with mini-game collections. Now Lithuanian developer Ivolgamus (who gave the world Barbie Island Princess and Monkey Mischief on Wii) has teamed up with publisher Nordcurrent (Minon: Everyday Hero) to launch Ninja Captains for Nintendo's home console. Can this collection of twenty mini-games prove to be as alluring as other games in this crowded genre, though? Read on for an early hands-on with the product...
Ninja Captains is a new party game for up to four players that circles around four bumbling wannabe-ninja cats attempting to save the world from a giant mouse, but end up clumsily stumbling their way around the world, taking part in twenty different games as they dodge danger at every turn. Players will be whisked through cities such as London, Sydney, Venice, Tokyo and finally back to New York to face the rascally rodent, as the game attempts to test gamers' speed, timing and co-ordination. Sadly, though, some of the games on offer test nothing more than your patience…
Ivolgamus (presumably pronounced Evil Gamers) lets players choose from either a Party or Story mode, with the former simply letting friends and family dive straight into the frantic feline frolics and the latter opening up the main storyline, where players must gain first place in each mini-game to progress further around the world. There are twenty short competitions and in this early play-test, Cubed3 jumped in on the first ten to see what can be expected from the final retail release.
First up the cats find themselves trapped on an airplane with a load of passengers feeling rather worse for wear due to it being such a bumpy ride. Therefore, the task at hand here is to run up and down your specific row of passengers, waggling the Wii Remote up and down to let each of them vomit into a sick bag. In order to distinguish between those who need help and those who are just about coping to keep their insides down, there is meter above their heads, which when turned completely red means they are beyond help, with them having a spasm in their chair and unable to be helped for a short while. The trick is to relieve each person slightly, move onto the next, repeat the process, then revert back to the other. It is all very simple, and ultimately rather boring, with things even becoming moderately painful after waggling the controller up and down too often. It certainly is not the best start to Ninja Captains, but there is more to come.
Street Statues - this involves being a street performer in London, trying to keep your balance and tilting to increase your score. How is this done? Simply keep the on-screen cursor within a little bubble, tilting and twisting the Wii Remote to ensure the right orientation is kept at all times as the bubble moves around in order to achieve a higher score. The premise is really simple (and terribly boring), whilst the execution is extremely awkward, having to twist the Wii Remote around in certain ways that a wrist simply cannot turn.
Bus Surfing - this has the four cats atop a speeding bus, with the player having to flick the Nunchuk in a downwards motion to duck under the thick arms of trees flying by, or shake the Wii Remote upwards to jump over pesky lower-level branches that otherwise prove to be a tripping hazard. The idea of this is better than the last two, yet it is quite difficult to see what type of branch is heading your way until almost the last second. So a low branch to jump over or high one to duck under cannot be easily distinguished since they come very quickly from the right side of the screen and your eyes cannot adjust quickly enough, leaving proceedings to be carried out with a modicum of guess work at times. Also, the recognition of the downwards Nunchuk movement is not always perfect, and thusly not clearly picked up.
Rocky Retreat - here the cats must climb Ayers Rock by moving Wii Remote to point the cursor over ledges to help keep them moving upwards in a swift manner to avoid the pesky alligator that was trying to chomp their tails off in the cartoon sketch intro. It is terrifically basic and tedious with victory claimed merely by pointing at the screen and clicking constantly until the experience has ceased.
Railroad Ride - moving on, our feline friends must avoid obstacles as they attempt to get to Tokyo as quickly as possible, leaning away from objects by tilting the Wii Remote or tapping A to jump over them as each cat rides along the rails in its own little cart. At this juncture it seems the development team picked up on a winning theme as Railroad Ride is much better than all the previous mini-games witnessed so far. Not least because it's actually fun to dodge the blocks that straddle the rails and leap over the ones lay across the track. The sighting distance is also much better than in Bus Surfing game, yet it is still not completely without fault as the score at the top of the screen does sometimes reduce the field of vision unfairly. But here lies a definite sign of upturn for Ninja Captains!
High-rise Hurry - your mission is to climb a skyscraper as quickly as possible, holding the Wii Remote on its side and turning the handle to hoist your platform higher up the building, whilst scaring off birds by shaking the Nunchuk whenever they all land on the platform, weighing it down. The instructions for cranking yourself upwards are not too clear on this one, so a bit of common sense comes into play or else random waggling will result in failure. However, once the right rhythm has been employed, it becomes quite the balancing act; cranking away, pausing ever-so-briefly to waft away the birds, and finally commencing your ascent once more.
Running of the Bulls - the scene is the San Fermin festival and the cat you control must jump over TVs (shake Wii Remote upwards) and slide under walls (shake Nunchuk downwards) to escape from the raging bull hot on your heels. Shuriken can also be picked up a thrown (by tapping A) to demolish the TVs and walls in your path. Again, thanks to the field of vision being much clearer than Bus Surfing, this proves to be quite enjoyable- even if it does err on the side of easiness somewhat.
Canal Cruise - Gondola racing in Venice! Shake both controllers up and down to go forwards, shake the Nunchuk to turn left and Wii Remote to turn right. The controls seem a little unresponsive here, so it results in all four players just shaking around as much as possible. This is by no means on a par with the Canoeing mode in Wii Sports Resort...
Fast Food Farce - Serve customers quickly, do not keep them waiting. Point at a box, press A and shake the Wii Remote around to see what is inside and then hit B to serve your patron. You each have one customer to please and there are six types of food they could possibly want. Holding A to shake a box reveals what is inside, and once discovered it is a case of tapping B to dish out the right piece of food and gain sufficient points to win the contest. Fast Food Farce appears confusing at first glance, but it gets better the more you play.
Ice Fishing - The final game in this hands-on has players catching fish by casting the rod into the water by flicking down with the Wii Remote, pulling upwards to draw the fish towards you, then putting the Nunchuk perpendicular to the Wii Remote and reeling it in on the double.
Clearly this last offering, Ice Fishing, and the other mini-games on offer are more fun with three friends around, but some are too limited for them to even be enjoyable in such a fun-filled atmosphere. Thankfully there is a trend of mini-games improving slightly in quality further into the game, which bodes well for the remaining ten included in the final product, but unless this comes out at a bargain price, there are many other packages out there right now that are far more satisfying overall.
Ninja Captains is delivered in a very stylish package, with cool cardboard cut-out, hand-drawn sketch style animation, lots of comical situations, and some light-hearted, upbeat tunes. There are also twenty fast-paced, four-player mini-games included that attempt to appeal to all demographics. However, from the ten play-tested here, many are simply too shallow, basic or even partially unplayable to hold high hopes for the final retail release. Yet with a total of twenty mini-games, it cannot be completely ruled out that there could be some strong surprises included...Do not hold your breath, though.
Whoop-dee-frickin'-do. Just what we need.
I..I can't watch porn. My Mommy finds out
I know where gatotsu is coming from, since there are so many mini-game collections on Wii that it's hard to determine which are good and which aren't.
Ninja Captains currently looks very so-so, but that's from playing only half the mini-games on offer. Perhaps it picks up further into the experience...we shall see.
Well yes there are a bunch of mini-games but sometimes the more the merrier but in this case: No there are way to many on the market and they should stop and start thinking of Grand Theft auto type games
I..I can't watch porn. My Mommy finds out
The other game publisher Nordcurrent has out on Wii is the 101-in-1 game package...so you can kind of see what market it's currently aiming at.
As for the developer, Ivolgamus, again it's stuff is definitely slewed toward the younger demographic (Barbie and Shrek games, for instance). However, there's a PS2 and PSP from them that might be for the older crowd...I just not read up on them.