A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Violence & Scariness
Players toss shurikens (throwing stars) at wooden boards, use nunchakus (nunchuks) to deflect thrown fruit, and maneuver a katana (sword) to guard against and attack warriors in training exercises. There is no blood, gore, or killing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a reflex training game composed of various ninja-themed exercises designed to quicken a player's response time to onscreen stimuli. The atmosphere is one of self-improvement; a gentle-voiced sensei repeatedly preaches the importance harmony between body, mind, and spirit. Most of the training is refreshingly benign, involving activities such as catching flies with chopsticks or fish with a bare hand. The only real violence is seen in an exercise that has players blocking the attacks of oncoming warriors with a sword, then jabbing back at them, but even this is meant to be viewed as nothing more than a simulation; there is no blood, gore, or killing.
Is It Any Good?
While the exercises are designed put players' physical dexterity to the test, they can also be surprisingly relaxing. Hotaru, for example, requires players to tap the screen (or press the remote's A-button, if you are playing the Wii version) as quickly as possible whenever a firefly appears on screen. To score well, games like these require players to enter a relaxed state similar to what athletes refer to as "the zone," in which the rest of the world disappears and one's attention is focused solely and calmly on the task before him or her. Indeed, it is during exercises like Hotaru that Ninja Reflex is at its best, successfully guiding players into the calming union of body, mind, and spirit that our gentle-voiced sensei preaches throughout the game. The soothing atmosphere is further enhanced by the game's artistic design. Events take place within the confines of traditional, lovingly rendered Japanese settings, such as bamboo forests, dojos, and castle courtyards. It's not uncommon to see flowers falling from the sky or dragonflies darting across the screen. Players can even take part in guided meditation within one of these environments.
Sadly, it all ends too soon. Enthusiastic players will zip through all of mini-game variations in just a couple of days, and the lackluster multiplayer mode, which simply lets players take turns training, doesn't add much. The short length might have been acceptable had the game been released at a reduced cost, but paying the price of a regular game for such a quick play doesn't make much sense. Ninja Reflex is worth checking out, but your best bet is to simply rent it for a few nights or wait for it to hit the bargain bins.
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Our Editors Recommend
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