Mixing Games with Reality: Ninjahit

NinjahitEveryone has certainly played games such as tag or hide-and-seek, but these are games that have more or less died with our childhood. Well, the folks over at Blowfin are looking to breathe some life back into these sorts of activities by combining them with one of the internet’s most pop culture icons, ninjas, in this iPhone title aptly named Ninjahit.

Consider Ninjahit to be a combination of the two aforementioned kid’s games, mixed with a dab of paintball. Once players register on the Ninjahit website it’s time to make some hits. The concept is simple enough, take out all other players before they take you out. Using the iPhone camera, players must hunt down opponents and get a snap shot of them without getting caught. Once you get the picture, you have “ninjahit” them and can trash (“smak”) talk them from the web page and send them the image. Assuming the victim confirms the hit, they are eliminated.

Of course, this does lead to one critical issue. Already, the core mechanic of this assassination app depends an awful lot on the honor system. Luckily, players are able to rate each other letting others know just who plays by the rules and who does not. Granted, it’s not a foolproof system, but it does at least incorporate some peer pressure to play amiably.

Despite this hiccup, the concept of the game is pretty cool, and with three different games to choose from, it really does offer something that is as fun as tag, without having the rest of society frown upon you. Moreover, with each game mode having a different level of intensity there is something for every level of ninja out there.

Target LockedThe least intense is easily the “Face Off” mode (which is available in the free, lite version) in which it is you versus one other person. The first player to be ninjahit loses. With a time limit of a few hours, it can be kind of fun, but it really doesn’t feel like it would be something to play often. However, if you upgrade to the full, $1.99, version, you gain access to two more modes: “The Assassin” and “Me Against the World.”

In both modes, there are an unlimited number of players allowed to join and the match can last up to seven days. In Assassin, every player receives a random target of someone in the current game from the server. No one else knows who that person is, and once you assassinate them, you get the target that they had. Suffice to say, you move down the chain until you have been killed, time expires, or are the only one left.

As fun as that sounds, the best mode is probably “Me Against the World.” This is the ultimate challenge of your sneaking skills because it is one big ninja free-for-all. Everyone is an enemy, and they could be anywhere. The winner is the last man standing.

Frankly, Ninjahit is a really cool game. Unfortunately, it does have one disheartening flaw. That is that it must be played on a smart phone. Currently, it is available on the iPhone and iPod Touch and it is stated to be in beta for Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Android. While the game is cross-platform, ask yourself: How many of your friends own one of these devices? In other social games on such devices, the play is limited to two to (maybe) four players, but Ninjahit is a game that doesn’t reach its potential without a multitude of users.

Creating the GameBlowfin seems to realize this as you can use the iPhone’s GPS to find and join games in progress, but it feels a little awkward to track down people you’ve never met before (stalking charges anyone?). Also, would you go up to a person in the subway and yell “tag, you’re it!?” This is a similar feeling.

In the end, Ninjahit is a fun game for friends, college students, and co-workers. It’s intense, it doesn’t fill too much time (so procrastination isn’t an issue), and it gets people off their butts. That said, though, the game feels ahead of its time. It is really cool, but in most peoples’ circle of friends, those that own something like an iPhone are often a minority. Granted, these devices are slowly becoming more common, more affordable, and more mainstream, but they are not quite there yet. Until that happens, Ninjahit will, sadly, not likely reach its full potential.

Another promising game that uses the same concept — albeit making your iPhone into a gun — is Gunman, which we’ll be taking a look at soon.