When I received my pretty-much-complete build of Ninjatown, I was floored at just how much fun this ridiculously cute game is. But, beneath its layer of cute sprites and witty dialogue hides a masochistic game that loves to punish you for making an incorrect move. Of course, it is a strategy game, after all.


The game opens up with a small vignette showing off Ninjatown and its many inhabitants, working diligently to maintain its cute population. The scene then departs to the outer skirts of the town, as Mt. Feroshi erupts and reveals the sinister force that will soon beat down the gates of the cute Ninja populace (it's revealed by Old Master Ninja later on that this sinister force numbers more than 9,000). It's then that we were thrust into our first conflict.

It all starts off easy enough, as the first four stages in the Suburbs area are somewhat of a breeze. But, once you get down the basics with your ninja, anti-ninja and pea-shooting ninja troops, you'll feel like you're well on your way to breezing through this game. The reality of the situation, however, is more grim.

Ninjatown can be tough. It's like any other strategy game, however, in that a carefree attitude and spamming a ton of foot soldiers in an attempt to get through each level just will not work. The balance between enemy and friendly unit types is remarkably balanced, meaning that every single choice is that much more important. Should I upgrade my ninja hut near the entrance of the level, or should I use the money to build pea-shooting ninja near the back, to take pop shots at anyone that passes the first wave of troops? It's a fine line to toe, which can be frustrating at times, and incredibly satisfying when you've enacted a winning strategy.

Thankfully, throughout the game, you'll gain access to nifty powers that will help you cream the competition. Aside from a gust of wind you can use by blowing into the microphone, there's also an ability that allows you to speed up your units, just to name a few. These powers can come in handy, especially when you're dealing with a high volume of enemies all at once, and really help you deal with what, at most times, feels like an incredibly superior force.

If you're not a strategy buff, you're really not going to find much enjoyment in the title, other than the hilarious Mayor of Ninjatown and the great dialogue that occurs between Old Master Ninja and Ninja Consultant. It's a very charming title, but being a real-time strategy game, will only appeal to a single niche of the gaming sector. It's a shame, too, because the game is good, through and through.

Final score: 8.5/10

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This article was originally published on Joystiq.