Ninjas and carrots; an unlikely combination that seems destined to be highly entertaining. A combination that’s found in Ninjin: Clash of Carrots.
Perhaps it would make more sense if I told you that the primary ninja you take control of in Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is a rabbit, and what starts off the whole affair is some nefarious villain stealing carrots. Rabbits love carrots, see? So when they start being lifted by some silly berk riding something that appears to have been designed by Dr. Robotnik, a rabbit ninja just has to spring into action, doesn’t it?
Due for release on 4th September and developed by Pocket Trap games, Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is shaping up to be a little slice of pure joy. And that’s despite being rather challenging. It’s hard not to be enveloped by its wide array of colours, almost papercraft-like art style and its infectious cuteness. Even if that cuteness stands at odds with the fact that the gameplay revolves around repeatedly beating enemies with whatever weapon takes your fancy.
Streets of Rage on speed is perhaps the best way to describe Ninjin: Clash of Carrots‘ gameplay. It’s essentially a side-scrolling beat ’em up played at high velocity. Each stage has you moving from left to right, but relinquish control of your character and you’ll still find them running forward. As such, your attacks are mainly focused ahead of you, requiring you to manoeuvre behind your opponents to strike. It’s a simple twist on the formula, but one that makes Ninjin: Clash of Carrots feel very unique. There are rare moments where your character stops running though, allowing you to strike in any direction.
One button lets you slash or stab with your equipped weapon, another allows you to dash. Combine them both and you can rush in any direction with your weapon drawn, striking any foes in your path. And you can also throw projectiles by aiming with the right analogue stick and then releasing. It’s essential for taking out enemies that explode when struck. With these few offensive options, it’s up to you to negotiate the waves of enemies thrown at you, out-manoeuvring them to avoid their attacks and get some in of your own.
At full pelt, Ninjin: Clash of Carrots‘ action almost feels like some sort of elaborate performance art. Enemies enter the screen, lining up and moving in formation. In retaliation, you take evasive action, trying to find a route that enables you to get safely behind them. After you strike, sometimes they disperse, spreading out across the screen. And from there, you’ll pursue one opponent after the other, swiping furiously with your sword or spear as they move into and out of the screen while also speeding up and slowing down, as if trying to evade your attacks by the medium of dance.
Some enemies rely on sword attacks to cut you down; others throw bombs or hurl fireballs. You’ll need to learn how to effectively deal with each attack in order to succeed, often combined with others. At first, everything starts out blissfully easy, but as I reached the latter stages of the first area accessible in the preview build of the game, the challenge seriously ramped up. In a good way though; it never felt unfair, it just made me go away and reconsider my strategy, as well as the equipment I had equipped.
Defeating enemies results in them dropping any carrots I presume they were carrying. Collect them, and when back on the game’s world map you can visit a merchant. A wide range of items can be purchased: melee weapons, ranged weapons, stat boosting trinkets. Some items can also be acquired by collecting treasure chests that also occasionally drop from defeated foes. Finding weapons that not only do a great deal of damage but also fit in with your playstyle is a must, as is combining equipment to make the most of your strengths.
From my time spent with the preview build of Ninjin: Clash of Carrots, the only worry I have is the possibility of it becoming too repetitive and grindy as you progress. In the first area, new enemies are introduced with alarming frequency, keeping each stage fresh. Whether other areas keep this up remains to be seen, but if they simply rehash the enemies that have come before, I can see some players’ interest waning.
I’m not going to spend too much time wondering what Ninjin: Clash of Carrots‘ later areas are going to be like at this stage though, I’m going to dwell on the fact that what I’ve played of it up to now has been an absolute riot. Fast-paced, challenging and a whole lot of fun, Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is bursting at the seams with character. It’s colourful and cute and yet also quite violent. And the violence can be doubled if you choose to play with a friend sat beside you or online. If it wasn’t on your radar before, it needs to be. Ninjin: Clash of Carrots could prove to be one of the most furiously addictive side-scrolling beat ’em ups ever made. Only time will tell.
Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is set for release on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC on 4th September.