A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Ease of Play
Kids see examples of the basic moves and can test many of them out before starting.
Violence & Scariness
Kids are often under attack, using weapons or trying to avoid physical harm.
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Products & Purchases
Items are sold within the app, but kids can also play to earn currency.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ninja Must Die is an action game for iOS and Android devices. The gameplay can potentially involve repeated violence, if you unsuccessfully try to avoid incoming items tossed at your character. Kids also collect and use a number of weapons in the game. While injuries could possibly occur frequently, the action doesn't linger on the outcome -- kids will see a flash of blood, for instance, but essentially, the character just keeps running. Even if his energy reserves are depleted and kids have to redo that section, the screen just fades to black to indicate the character died. Similarly, opponents aren't always killed in fights. Kids tame and then ride a dragon they battle, for instance. A tutorial outlines the basic game elements, so kids should be able to confidently start playing. The app's store offers a number of for-sale currency items, and kids will sometimes see a pop-up ad for them. They can play without buying them, though.
Is It Any Good?
Despite a few extraneous elements, this generally fast-paced game should be able to hold kids' interest and won't immediately try to sell them things. In Ninja Must Die, kids frantically flip around a path to avoid incoming wasps and other concerns. Their success will depend on how quickly they can react to threats that appear ahead of them -- which sometimes don't provide much warning -- by hitting the buttons that make them duck or jump. They can also run through coins floating in front of them to gather cash.
The game's graphics are great -- the dragon's wings flutter convincingly, and embers of fire glow like they're really burning. Kids can perish if they come into contact with too many items in front of them, but they'll be dropped back in the scene close to where they left off without much penalty. Maneuvering the game controls can be a bit tricky at first -- things start to move fast fairly soon in the game, and it's easy to, for example, not tap the screen quickly enough to move from running in a straight line up onto a slightly elevated area, ending the round. The automated sequences that play after the action's done in game segments aren't always too compelling -- watching the character soar through the air, for instance, doesn't add too much visually; it just slows down the gameplay. Kids can skip some items, though, by hitting a button. There can be a fair amount of violence, depending on how well you play. If you slam into a bat or bird, you'll be injured -- and there's no shortage of challenges to avoid. The gore that's shown is pretty tame, though. There's a little blood, but the character is moving so fast kids may not even notice it. Overall, the game may not be the most in-depth or unbelievably engrossing experience -- kids are pretty much just trying to keep moving forward. But the speed they move at and constant stream of roadblocks in their way tend to make each Ninja Must Die run pretty fun.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.