We’ve been taking a look at some of the many ninja Facebok games in the past couple of weeks. Ninja Saga is one of the biggest we’ve seen yet. With nearly 1.9 million monthly active users, it’s worth a closer look.
Ninja games are a common genre on Facebook due to the popularity of ninja animes, especially the Naruto series, in popular culture. And Ninja Saga, like many other games, has clearly been inspired by that Japanese cartoon; meanwhile, Crunchyroll has released the only official Naruto Facebook game that we know of.
Ninja Saga walks a razor’s edge when it comes to copyright issues. The art style itself is wonderful, but looks an awful lot like Naruto. Clothing, hairstyles, even ninjutsu (essentially magic) attacks, and architecture are taken, almost identically, from the series with only the most minor of details changed (like color). In fact, even the story of a nobody looking to become the “Kage,” or head ninja, is the same. Nevertheless, and issues of copyright aside, the game still proved to be fun.
Players are given a basic storyline and work through missions that vary based on the level and rank of your character. After a basic tutorial, the user is promoted to “Genin,” which is basically your bottom-rung ninja. As such, you are only able to do the most basic of missions, working your way up the ladder as you level up and earn some ninja prowess.
The missions themselves are fairly straightforward, but come with a turn-based combat like most RPGs. Players make an attack, it takes up X amount of time and “chakra” (mana), then the enemies attack. Repeat. Over time, users get more attacks, more items, and eventually, more party members leading to a fairly enjoyable and in-depth battle system.
Of course, this being a Facebook game, those other party members can be your Facebook friends. You can’t use them unless they actually join the game. However, the extra party members makes things a lot more interesting (not to mention easier), and more fun. Heck, you can even use what jutsus their character knows to teach your own avatar some new tricks. Furthermore, if you aren’t looking for teammates, you can always challenge said friends to player-versus-player bouts or pick fights with random opponents using the Ninja Saga’s “Live PvP” system in order to win .
As for other features of the game, it has all the basic elements of distributing attribute points when you level — buying new equipment, customizing your avatar, and training new spells. Also, once a player is strong enough (and high ranked enough) they can even purchase their own pets. Sadly, we didn’t get to see this as our virtual ninja skills are not yet apparently not up to the task. Nevertheless, and as with most Facebook games nowadays, this is all done with either the earnable in-game currency of gold, or the purchasable virtual currency, Saga Tokens.
Perhaps it is a good and bad thing, but this game was fun enough to really drive a desire to purchase said tokens. With the wonderful artwork, fun game play, and a story that looks to unfold through Flash animations, buying new stuff quickly became addictive as it would allow more of this ninja world to be seen. Unfortunately, the bad part of all this is that all this praise toward artwork and story are there because most of it is unoriginal and almost a direct copy of Naruto. This also means that sooner or later Ninja Saga could run into some legal trouble. Either way, the game is fun, and if legal issues are taken care of, it actually does the Naruto franchise justice.