NinjaTrick Offers a Battle Royale on Facebook

In recent time, ninja-based games appear to be popping up all over Facebook. Some have involved automated combat while others were strictly role-playing games. Here’s a somewhat different take: NinjaTrick, from CyberAgentAmerica, which combines combat with a personalized ninja and plants them into the middle of a ninjutsu battle royale. It’s perhaps most similar to Ninja Warz, which we covered yesterday.

After customizing their ninja, players are dropped right into the fray. While most games tend to teach players how to play with automated bots, or step by step tutorials, it would seem that this sort of thing is too soft for this ninja game. The tutorial, as it were, consists of a big ready arrow pointing to the “Play Game” button. Okay, sure, why not. Then a nice window says “Collect 7 Gems.”

At this point, you’re thinking “good, so here is one of the things I have to do in the game.” Then you see three other avatars in the loading screen. One is apparently a teammate and the other two are enemies. Wait a second…. Yup, that was the end of the “tutorial” phase right there as the new player ends up scurrying about a nine grid room searching for gems and getting pelted with attacks. It also didn’t help that the very first match we were in had a “master” level player in it. Despite the absurdity of this tutorial and matchmaking design, the game did show some promise.

After the baptism of fire, the combat actually has a lot of depth to it. As players complete matches, they earn coins and experience. This allows the user to buy new items for their avatar that not only look better but actually grant them extra abilities in battle. Such items include jutsus, traps, and other special equipment.

Consider jutsus to be like spells. Basic combat is done by clicking on an enemy, but you can perform different spells for added effects (such as healing, immobilization, or straight damage). Also, the traps are extremely cool. You can actually place them anywhere on the battle field to damage, slow, or otherwise hinder your opponents in some way.

All of these tricks are necessary as matches can vary in size and type dramatically. You might find yourself in a 2 vs 2, or a four team free-for-all. Games can go as high as eight players in total. That number, suffice to say, adds a great deal of chaos to the game, which, once you learn how to fight, is good fun.

Unfortunately, to be able to compete you need to have better equipment, and herein lies a significant issue that we have seen in a number of games using virtual goods. An overwhelming majority of the purchasable items require the “Ninja Gold” virtual currency and cannot be bought using the in-game coins. Furthermore, the goods that can be bought with coins have significant level requirements, while the Ninja Gold items seem to have none. This means the player either has to pay real money right away, or get their butt whipped for a rather extensive amount of time.

Of course, this aspect of the game may convince some portion of players to pay — which is great for the developer, if not the long-term prospects of the game’s development.

On a lesser note (depending on your perspective), NinjaTrick is one heck of a spam factory, too. It seems that every time you do anything significant, it just has to send a notification out to every… single… one of your Facebook friends as well as giving the option to post it to your feed. The feed option is enough, the nine million notifications is obnoxious.

Thankfully, since the core game play (combat) is good. The issues are easily fixable. The  game has been steadily climbing to nearly 145,000 monthly active users.