Mark of the Ninja
By Chad Sapieha,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Graphic side-scrolling action game with assassination kills.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
While elements of Mark of the Ninja focus on strategy and puzzle solving, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence.
This game sensationalizes graphic, assassination-style violence with an emphasis on bloody, blade-based kills.
Positive Role Models
Though he's a ninja following an ancient, noble code, the game's hero -- who spends his time sneaking about and killing enemies while slowly going insane -- makes a poor behavioral model for children.
Ease of Play
The game teaches players how to control their ninja as the game progresses, providing situations that allow them to practice their abilities as they are introduced. That said, it's no walk in the park. Later levels will challenge even seasoned gamers.
Violence & Scariness
As a ninja, players have the option of sneaking past or killing most enemies. Though the game is cartoon-like in presentation, kills are depicted with gushing blood as player slit throats and impale chests with long blades. The camera often shifts to highlight these attacks, and foes grunt helplessly as they expire. Also expect action-based narrative sequences with grisly violence, such a man getting sliced in two.
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Strong words, including "f--k" and "s--t," appear in dialogue, but rarely.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mark of the Ninja is a side-scrolling action game intended for a more mature audience than its initial appearance might suggest. Though it features simple, single-plane movement and has a cartoon aesthetic, action is often intensely violent. Players control a ninja, and assassinate their enemies by cutting throats and stabbing chests. Plus, dialogue contains infrequent but very strong language, including the "f--k." The protagonist is portrayed as honorable, but his violent actions -- plus the narrative revelation that he's slowly going insane -- make him a poor model for real world behavior.
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Mark of the Ninja
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What’s It About?
MARK OF THE NINJA stars an unnamed ninja on a quest for justice after his base has been ransacked. Stamped with a tattoo that grants him special powers (but is slowly driving him mad), the ninja is sent on a quest to learn more about the people who attacked headquarters. His real enemies aren't revealed until later in the game. Action is presented in side-scrolling cartoon form. Players have the option of stealthily avoiding combat or engaging enemies with stylishly deadly or non-lethal attacks, as they prefer. Hiding and taking shelter in dark areas and behind objects is key, as is exploring the game's environments looking for alternate ways forward and collectible items.
Is It Any Good?
This slickly made and satisfyingly stylish action game isn't just another run-to-the-right side-scroller. Players need to exercise thought, caution, and forward thinking as they take on cleverly designed environmental puzzles, all while discovering creative ways to subdue or bypass roaming enemies. The ninja's controls are tight and intuitive, making his movements and attacks highly gratifying. And while timing and precision are essential -- especially in later levels -- it's usually pretty easy to dash away from botched operations and try again. $15 games this deep, polished, and engrossing for older players don't come along every day. Highly recommended. Just keep in mind that, despite its cartoonish appearance, it's not intended for youngsters.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about ninjas. What are some of the rules that govern their lives? Are authentic ninjas, past or present, inherently good or bad people?
Families can also discuss violence in media. How do you determine what's right for your kids, and when they are ready for more mature games, books, movies?
- Platforms: Windows, Xbox 360
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles, strategy
- Available online?: Not available online
- Publisher: Microsoft Studios
- Release date: October 16, 2012
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: August 26, 2016
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