Updated: Ninjatown: Trees of Doom Review

Some substantial new additions have found their way into Ninjatown: Trees of Doom that are big enough to warrant an updated review. Given that this game already earned “Must Have” status, you have to respect the team behind this gem packing in more content and replay value.

The biggest tweak that we appreciate in this update is the smoke bomb mechanic that springs Wee Ninja into the elevated regions of the Tree of Doom once you surpass the 1000 meter threshold. Previously you’d have to start all the way from the bottom of the tree, and for veterans like us, the easy climb up did get old after a while.

Besides the rebalanced platforming segments designed to improve scores, we noticed that more powerups seem to float around now. It’s an obvious nod to the casuals, and a smart one at that. New save states are introduced with this update that will maintain your progress in case your iDevice crashes or you need to close out the app. While we wait for native multitasking to finally come in a few weeks, this addition is a godsend.

Appealing to fans of the Ninjatown franchise, the Anti-Ninja is a new unlockable character that can be attained by finding him in the game. Unfortunately the Anti-Ninja doesn’t have any unique moves or personality, so it’s just a color swap. Other undisclosed bug fixes complete the scope of this update. So if you missed the boat on Ninjatown: Trees of Doom a few weeks back, get a clue and get this game!

Ninjatown never ceases to amaze us. Even after receiving our Game of the Month award, the developers are still hell-bent on making the game even better. In the 1.03 update, there are updates in content, sharper assets for the iPhone 4’s Retina display, and multitasking support. The kicker is that all of these updates are free. Yes, the game is still a buck.

Two new ninjas have found their way into the game: Forest Ninja and White Ninja. Much like the addition of Anti-Ninja, these new characters are merely costume swaps. There’s no difference in abilities or characteristics. New warp bombs have been introduced as well for the more advanced players that hit the higher regions of the trees as well.

Installing the Retina Display assets is optional, and it’s a slim 10 MB download. Getting the upgraded visuals require an in-game download, and a game reboot. When it does load back up, the art really pops off the screen. Every pixel of the new resolution is put to good use, and the game has never looked prettier.

After testing the multitasking support in a variety of ways, Ninjatown holds up brilliantly. No matter if you hard exit the game with a press of the home button, or pull up the app menu by double-tapping home, Ninjatown picks up right where you left off. When loading Ninjatown back up from a save state, you start in a pause menu so you don’t have to worry about being caught off-guard.

More updates are being planned, so if you haven’t picked up this extraordinary game yet, you’re missing out. There’s enough new content in here to warrant a price increase, so get it while the getting is good!

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.

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