It is not quite an exaggeration to say that video games and ninjas have a hard time existing without one another. Video game history is filled with them. There are too many to count. The tales of mysterious, shadowy super warriors from the land of the Rising Sun have captured the imaginations of generations of game designers and players alike.
There is Ninja Gaiden’s Ryu Hayabusa, there is Joe Musashi, the hero of the venerable Shinobi series, there are the numerous ninjas from the Mortal Kombat games. Ninjas and video games are a great mix. What young boy or teenager wouldn’t wish to be a ninja?
So it’s not really surprising that ninjas feature in a lot of games. Even in those you find off the beaten path. Sloppy Ninja is one such case. Developed by a handful of college friends, this little flash title pays homage to the arcade classic Qix and its semi-successor Volfied.
The task is to compartmentalize the playing field into rectangles, or rather, fill it out with what’s essentially a glorified MS paint tool, thereby trapping enemies in filled out parts of the playing field. Whenever an enemy touches the line you’re drawing, a spark starts following that line, which will kill you if it reaches you. Some enemies shoot out projectiles that need to be avoided while in painting mode. The player character is safe on the finished lines and rectangles. There is very little in terms of an actual tutorial, so you’re left to figure out how things work by yourself. Unless you still know Qix. Which I didn’t (and which is sad because Qix looks pretty amazing...).
Sloppy Ninja is nothing special, a little flash game with some cute little hand drawn characters. Sometimes the collision detection isn’t the most accurate, which, given the barebones nature of the game mechanics and their reliance on precision can be a bit frustrating. There are a lot of little games like this out there, and there certainly are better games that follow the classic Qix / Volfied pattern. There is something about this prevalent quirky and cute aesthetic of the post Plants vs. Zombies flash games that just irritates me. Or maybe I’m just getting old. Anyway, there’s also a “deluxe” version of the game with more levels, upgrades and enemies that costs money. Also they are trying to get onto Steam with Steam Greenlight. You can play Sloppy Ninja for free here if you have some minutes to kill.