Ever wanted to see what it would be like to have Paul Revere blowing bad guys to digital bits from a tank, or Benjamin Franklin electrocuting enemies with lighting power? Then HappyGiant’s Ninja Time Pirates (Q4 2013; iOS) is just the type of free-to-play historical mind-bender/squad-based adventure you’ve been looking for.
Funny thing is, the game basically takes every conspiracy theory imaginable, from Roswell and the Philadelphia Experiment to Easter Island and Bigfoot, and throws together a storyline where the future of earth is fought throughout its past by a group of time traveling guardians packed with some seriously bad-ass weaponry.
The Ninja Time Pirates design team includes veterans from LucasArts, Roblox, and EA, but the game really has that old-school flavor of classic LucasArts games like Monkey Island, as gamers take their the squad of historical heroes on an epic quest to battle foes from Ancient Egypt to Colonial New England.
The game’s guardians include Revere, Franklin, George Washington, Nostradamus, Black Beard, and Cleopatra (with more to be released via updates), as they take on an alien race attempting to “time-form” Earth. So while gamers might recognize historical events like Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, this time, the redcoats you’re fighting against are actually aliens with lasers.
“Basically, there has been this secret time war going on, and the government has recruited all of these historical figures to fight,” says Michael Levine, Happy Giant founder and lead designer. “The lead character is a ninja named Retro. You must travel back through time and activate the Time Guardians — an elite force of famous historical figures called into battle — to help you battle the alien army and unravel a mysterious plot dating back to the Philadelphia Experiment and more.
“The Time Guardians all have tricked-out weapons and super powers based on who they are.”
Expect George Washington to bust out his cherry bomb and Blackbeard to knock heads with his super cannonball, with all powers and weapons upgradeable throughout the experience.
Harking back to Top Gun, each hero is also given a nickname, like G-Dub for Washington, and Mr. Electric for Franklin.
As you advance through each level (levels consist of seven to eight missions), you’ll encounter stealth missions, missions where you get into vehicles (alien tanks!), and the ability to customize the lead ninja character into everything from a Viking to a pirate to a World War II hero.
“There are so many different weapons, from the plasma gun to the more humorous Silent Butt Deadly, which is a weapon used during stealth missions that puts a cloud of knockout gas around enemies,” says Levine. “I tell people it’s like Tiny Troopers 2 meets Ratchet and Clank because we just have so many cool, crazy weapons.
“There are fortresses to blow up, aliens to kill, and the world to save, what more can you ask for? We showed it at the Boston Festival of Indie Games, and got such a fantastic response, we basically had to rip it out of kid’s hands.”