While the list of games that are known for that ‘one more time…’ quality is slowly getting larger, not many can dispute that Doodle Jump is right up there on that list. Simple and deep at the same time, we’ve killed many hours trying to push our high scores into the stratosphere. We mention this because now there’s a new game that conjures those same ol’ snuggly feelings. Meet your next timesink: Ninjatown: Trees of Doom.
Not to be confused with Shawnimals’ Ninjatown for the Nintendo DS, this is a completely new game built from the ground-up for the iDevices. The basic premise puts your Wee Ninja up against a couple of prickly trees that must be scaled, by any means necessary. Of course, treacherous obstacles get in the way, but every so often ninjas need to prove their worth. The higher you ascend, the higher your score. Once you’re hit, the game is over. Simple stuff.
Super Ninja doesn’t let a volcano disrupt his flight patterns.
What makes this game amazingly fun to play are its perfect controls and mechanics. This is a 2D game, and Wee Ninja jumps back and forth from the two trees lining the edges of your portrait-oriented iDevice. The built-in tutorial gets you acclimated to the controls quickly, and with some time, you’ll be ascending those trees with great speed and grace.
As alluded to earlier, there are obstacles that make things tricky, including flying ghosts, slippery tree segments, and grape jelly-like goo. Pickups grant abilities like temporary shields or boosts to get past especially tricky areas.
Completely random layouts for each play attempt make Ninjatown: Trees of Doom seem fresh every time. This means that you can’t predict or memorize the environments. As you ascend higher and higher, the tricks and obstacles become more frequent and formidable.
Ngmoco’s Plus+ network brings the achievements and online leaderboards, so it’s great to see some level of online connectivity. It’s not as brilliant as Doodle Jump’s real-time score climbing, but that is the gold standard.
Return of the Balloon Boy.
Using a kid-friendly aesthetic, Ninjatown: Trees of Doom has a cute look and feel to it. It’s not unlike what you’d see in a typical Saturday morning cartoon, and the whole effort is consistent. Stylized graphics tend to look and animate better than realistic ones on the iDevices, and this game completely demonstrates that point.
Will Ninjatown: Trees of Doom take over the vertical platforming genre popularized by Doodle Jump? We’re not sure, but this is one amazing game that deserves as much attention as it can muster. With a clear emphasis on putting perfected gameplay and mechanics first, Ninjatown: Trees of Doom earns our highest recommendation.