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Parents' Guide to

Ninja Reflex

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Quick and fun Japanese-themed reflex training.

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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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