Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is a pleasantly packaged, adequately challenging side-scrolling beat ‘em up from Pocket Trap. With simple controls, rewarding gameplay and a fairly extensive loadout, this is a neat little title that even beat ‘em up newbies should definitely try out.
Let’s start off with one of Ninjin: Clash of Carrots’s more obvious qualities. It feels good to play. Movement is smooth and just the right amount of floaty, the controls are intuitive, and the combat is slick with some seriously solid slicing of enemies. It’s very satisfying to dice your way through a pack of lower level enemies all at once, using your dash attack to deal damage to several opponents at once.
It plays in a very similar way to The Behemoth’s side-scrolling beat ‘em up classic, Castle Crashers, having your character progress through waves of fairly disposable adversaries with bosses scattered throughout. But the unique catch with Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is that your basic attack only works in one direction, meaning you can only attack your enemies (with your equipped weapon) from behind. Projectiles work in every direction with an intuitive aiming system bound to the right joystick, but you’ll have to dash your way behind enemy lines to really deal some damage and vanquish a wave.
Don’t be fooled by Ninjin: Clash of Carrots cutesy exterior. The difficulty does ramp up quickly and poses quite a challenge quite early on. New enemies with unique abilities are introduced regularly, some a lot more frustrating than others, meaning you’ll have to get to grips with your arsenal of weapons and abilities if you want to really ace a level.
This is where stat boosts come in really handy. The stats are basic and easy to understand. Weapon stats include class (heavy, standard, knife etc), power, blade length and a % chance of dealing critical damage. Weapons can be found in levels or purchased from Corgi Jr’s pop up shop (which arguably boasts the best music in the game). You can also purchase items to boost health and stamina.
The premise of gaining life when you deftly tackle a wave of enemies is also intriguing and surprisingly successful. It really gives you incentive to use all your abilities more strategically rather than mashing the basic attack buttons because this is the only way you can fill your health meter. Once you run out of health, it’s game over and you have to replay the whole level so it’s definitely worth honing your skills.
During the chaos of battle, I did occasionally find myself losing my character on the screen when the level gets particularly busy with enemies. However, this wasn’t a huge issue and, while the game encourages skill-mastery, you can easily get yourself out of a sticky situation with some well-executed button mashing.
All this goodness is wrapped up in some very pretty packaging. Right off the bat, the game looks adorable. I’m a sucker for a nice indie game art-style and Pocket Trap really pulled it off. Simple yet vibrant levels, delightful characters and admirable adversaries. Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is as fun to look at as it is to play. Not to mention the music is adorable and the character dialogue is very reminiscent of Undertale with goofy humour sprinkled throughout the cutscenes. The story is nothing special, but it doesn’t have to be. The backbone of this game is its arcade-like gameplay and achievement-hunting replayability.
If you’re up for a light-hearted side-scrolling slice ‘em up, Ninjin: Clash of Carrots will make your day. And with the addition of online and local co-op mode for two players, your friends can join in too! Boasting solid, polished gameplay with a simple yet cheerful story with an art style to match, Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is a small but mighty title worthy of a place in your game library.