Saturday, August 02, 2008

Typing Ninja Hunter

Typing Ninja Hunter is, as the name might imply, a typing game. That alone probably scares a lot of people off. But not me! I love typing games -- I played quite a few in my youth (none of which I remember, but all of which revolved around the basic concept of "type quickly to destroy these bad things"), and they're certainly a large part of the reason for my typing skills today. So believe me when I say that my bitter disappointment with the game stems not from the fact that it's a typing game, but from the fact that it's a bad typing game.

So, the basic gameplay is not particularly surprising -- hordes of ninjas come at your temple, each with a word conveniently positioned above them; typing the word will take out the ninja. The basic ninjas just run toward the temple, but as the game goes on, ninjas with different powers arrive, and you have to kill them before their powers activate, or else you'll have to do even more typing. The words are generally four letters (though some harder ninjas have five or even six letters), and the word selection is kind of strange -- there are a lot of ordinary words, but also a few really strange words like "xyst" and even a few outright offensive words like "kikes". I don't know how those managed to slip by -- there's really no need to include them in a game like this. Anyway, as you correctly get words, your power bar increases, and when it fills you have the option of unleashing one of three different powers. Enemies come in waves, at the end of which are bosses, although there is also a survival mode in which enemies just keep on coming.

Now, the first problem is simply that the game is too easy. Now, of course, I'm an exceptional typist, but even on hard mode, there isn't much of a challenge. To amuse myself, after reaching the high score I needed to get for the last badge (which was on hard mode), I tried playing the game one-handed, and I still managed to rack up another 30,000 points or so before succumbing. I understand that the game needs to remain accessible to people of all skills, and that's fine; the way to do that is by making the game gradually harder until even unbelievably good typists can't handle it. But here, the difficulty ramp seems to stop and flatten out long before it should (well, really, it shouldn't flatten out at all). I have no doubt that (at least in survival mode) the only thing limiting how long I could last is boredom.

But the other, vastly more infuriating thing about the game is the aforementioned bosses. You see, in order to beat the bosses, you don't have to type at all -- you just have to press arrows at the right time when they're displayed on the screen, or sometimes just hammer arrows as quickly as possible. This isn't typing! It's an entirely different game, and one which requires an unreasonable degree of precision. On a fast computer, the game will occasionally fail to recognize your keystrokes, but you at least have a fair chance of winning; on a slow computer, though, it seems like 90% of your arrow presses simply disappear into the ether, making it essentially impossible to clear the game.

The graphics are not bad, though the game does something weird with your cursor which makes it flicker constantly when not in the Flash frame, so you can't leave this game on a background tab and go to do something else. The background music gets pretty annoying pretty quickly, and the sounds are mostly just generic people-getting-killed sounds.

Anyway, I would enjoy immensely seeing a truly interesting typing game on Kongregate, but this really isn't it. Making the bosses a real typing challenge rather than simply a test of reflexes would go a long way, as would working on the poor performance issues, but what I'd really like is a game that challenges me, and this game totally fails on that score.

1 comment:

ToastyKen said...

Well, the demon lord was sort of a typing challenge, but still too easy. And if you think those Simon Says parts were annoying, be appalled that it's quite common in console games and such now, too! I was playing the Bourne Conspiracy Demo, which involves some fighting, and then:

Suddenly, a Y button flashes on the screen. I'm like, yikes! And accidentally hit X instead. And I lose. And then it takes like half a minute to load and bring me back to where I was. Then it flashes the B button this time, but I hit Y instead. Gah! Another half-minute to load. HOW IS THIS FUN?!