Enter into MMO Ninja Action Against Facebook Friends with Nindou International

Nindou InternationalOf all the popular genres seen in free-to-play games – be they social, casual, or otherwise – ninjas seem to be a highly reoccurring theme. Be they in Naruto RPGs, epic sagas, or battling armies, these Japanese assassins have been anything but stealthy. So why not make a free-to-play massively multiplayer online Facebook-connected social game about them? And thus we get the open beta rendition of Nindou International from 1001F Interactive.

Incorporating players from not only the United States, but other regions such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, the Facebook Connect-using site provides a competitive battling ninja war, of sorts, set within a Japanese, cel-shaded world. As a matter of fact, the art style is one of the most noticeable element to the game, as it is likely inspired by the PlayStation 2 title, Okami. For those unfamiliar with the game, the entire world looks similar to a Japanese semi-e ink painting (just with more color). This style, coupled with over the top and quirky animations make Nindou most interesting right off the bat.

The Land of IssunDespite a warming aesthetic style, the core of the game is anything but. Using a click and hold technique, along with a mouse drag, players charge up “NP” and dash about a screen in order to reach and attack various objects and, ahem, inflict “great suffering” upon any enemy players who get in the way. Attacking with these objects is basically point and click (though eventually you do get ninjutsu), with the point being to complete the objective of various game modes.

Each mode is a hosted battle within the game’s world, with each having a unique objective. “Save the Princess” grants victory to the team the breaks the wall containing the princess first; “Spooky Hunters” marks one person on each team as a ghost while the other team hunts them; “Death Instructions” is a team deathmatch; “Thousand Kill” is a timed deathmatch where the team with the most kills wins; and “Last Man Standing” is a free-for-all with a self-explanatory goal.

For each match played, players earn experience and gold. The former obviously goes toward new levels which is primarily used as a gating mechanism when it comes to buying new weapons and equipment. Gold, on the other hand, actually buys it. Nonetheless, like most free-to-play MMOs, players have the choice of buying most items with either the in-game currency of Gold or the buyable virtual currency, Nin Coins. Essentially, using the latter is not required, but it allows for faster progression through the game.

Community RoomAs for the world itself, it is broken up into various villages, which serve as community chat rooms where people can walk around, view profiles, and join games. Beyond these, there are also a surprising amount of shops that you can visit. These include weapons, armor, ninjutsu (spells), dougu, seki, plastic surgery (changing your avatar), and more.

If you’re a bit confused by the terms of dougu and seki, that’s to be expected, as the game doesn’t do a very good job of really explaining what all of this is or how to use it, at least not yet. Essentially, these are temporary enhancements to your character and weapon enhancements. And though it sounds a bit clearer when put in layman’s terms, the only tutorial to find this information is a link to a help page that contains a tremendous amount of information that most people are going to forget in a minute or two.

shoppingThe majority of players are going to learn through doing, which is the other key issue with Nindou. Any sort of matchmaking system feels, currently, non-existent, making a new player’s life a nightmare. At best, there are areas labeled level 10 and under, but are often barren, and thus when a player goes to a more populated area there isn’t any real limitation on who joins a battle. A level one can be put up against a level 21, and there is no way to tell what the levels the players in a battle will be until you join the waiting room.