Ninjin Clash of Carrots, on paper at least, is about as unique as you can imagine a game that’s mashing up a variety of genres (whether it be beat-em-up, bullet-hell, anime and light hearted action) to be. It’s a bonkers crossover that sees each of its woven mechanics stitched together to create something that may stand out amongst the lower-priced crowd during this busy period.
Amongst a multitude of games about to implode all at once in the gaming season, it was certainly surprising to see Ninjin: Clash of Carrots to have the stones to launch in the week of a huge Destiny 2 expansion, Dragon Quest XI and that webhead game. Perhaps this was out of their control to a certain extent but on the other hand it feels confident. Ninjin is a game that is bolder than you would expect it to be, and whilst it’s not ever going to rock the foundations of your reality, this side-scroller about a fox and a rabbit chasing down carrots has more going for it than you may have suspected.
The pixelated visuals and colourful characters may be enough to detract a certain core brand of players, though it would be a shame for this not find an audience, particularly with its anime sensibilities and influences that are clear from the off. The sense of humour the game portrays can sometimes be a little cringeworthy but mostly pays off. The game runs well, each level running at a solid pace with some terrific design choices that make every little pop off the screen.
If you’re after a challenge, Ninjin is certainly no slouch. Whilst the first few levels are almost frustratingly simple, the difficulty spike comes out of nowhere, with a multitude of new enemies arriving throughout and having them all gang up on you at once can be overwhelming, losing yourself in crowd as you constantly hit your attack and dash buttons. It’s certainly got that bullet-hell esque feel to certain levels, as areas get crowded out by the sheer number of enemies on the screen all at once. It’s at times frustrating to see your health meter tick down as you simply are trying to move out of the way of an incoming projectile, only to discover you barely have anywhere to go in order to try and catch your breath a tad. It certainly feels more like developers Pocket Trap have been influenced by the likes of Streets of Rage and Azure, meshing them together to create a game about carrots. It’s almost too much to take at times and once you finally finish these levels you won’t feel like you accomplished anything, just that you simply got through it.
For me this rather stifled the enjoyment I was having, as it became less of a rewarding endeavour and more of a means to an end. As you progress through the game you’re able to purchase (with your hard-earned carrots at a shop ran by a corgi. Yup.) new masks, health, weaponry and more all with different abilities which allow you to take on levels in a variety of ways. This is welcome, as with the aforementioned new enemy arrivals (some of which feature funny introductions) comes a new mechanic that you have to learn, and allowing you to mess with your loadouts is handy, as it will allow you to get stacked up with weapons that are better for taking on the new wrongs-uns with a little more tactical knowledge on your side.
There are over 100 loadout options throughout, so collecting carrots is essential. I rarely go into battle without my trusty ninja stars. Oh, they’re so satisfying.
It’s fair to say then that Ninjin is more of a team experience than anything else, and playing the game in co-op (either locally or online) is where it really shines. As you tear it through each level with a buddy it’s frantic and bonkers and is assuredly worth trying if you’re finding the later levels a little too taxing on your own. It’s almost as if the game has been designed with this in mind, in a very Overcooked! kind of way, as to really get the most of out of it you need to play it with someone else.
Those carrots won’t save themselves, you know.
Ninjin Clash of Carrots is out now on Xbox One, Switch, PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro) and Steam.
Developer: Pocket Trap
Publisher: MODUS Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.