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Mini Ninjas

Tenchu Babies, they make our dreams come true...

Xbox World has a fine history of duffing up cut-'n'-paste Wii-centric platformers seemingly made to cash in on an endless stream of forgettable CGI animated movies, before being puked onto the 360 with the motion control element stripped out. And every one of them had it coming. But, with an original title like this, we must use stealth...

Yes, we all know it's Hitman 5 that we're waiting for from Io, but we're also in need of a damn good platformer on Xbox, and not only is Mini Ninjas refreshingly free from Happy Meal connotations, it's also packed to the gills with charm. Indeed, Io have created and absolutely captivating world which is a real pleasure to explore.

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It's also true, however, that charm can only get you so far. Mini Ninjas is also out on the Wii, but this time you don't miss the Wii-mote quite so much. The real problem here is the staggering lack of ingenuity in the whole idea. Given the chance to create a fresh new gaming world, Io have delivered a very familiar tale of ninjas fighting a magical evil army, like a next gen Mystical Ninja packed with Naruto-esque moves, Sonic-style possessed animal enemies, Tenchu-lite action and a world that closely apes that unusually decent 360 movie tie-in, Kung Fu Panda. Frankly, it's a hugely missed opportunity - when the devs could have established a distinct new gaming franchise.

Crying over spilt milk aside though, Mini Ninjas' occasional flashes of jolly variety - taking control of a variety of cute animals, paddling around in your own hat, fishing for sushi - are very welcome, and the beauty lies in the details. Even the lowliest grunt can parry your sword-swipes and engage you in a decent scrap, and the lushness of the Far Eastern world makes it easy to recommend as a quality bit of inner-child 360 platforming.

The verdict

A beautiful little game; just a shame that everything is so overly familiar.

  • Charmingly designed world
  • At least it's not Pixar...
  • Built entirely from cliché
Xbox 360
Io Interactive
Eidos Interactive