Developed by:Nebula Game Studios Published by:Nebula Game Studios Genre(s):
  • Action
  • Platformer
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • Cost:$1.00 ESRB Rating:RATING PENDING Players:1 Release date:July 23, 2012 Reviewed on:XBox 360

    Ninja Exorcist: Episode 1

    It’s hard to have a conversation about video games without mentioning an indie title these days. One such title that should be talked about comes from Nebula Game Studios. With gameplay that’s reminiscent of classic games like Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania, Nebula’s Ninja Exorcist: Episode 1 has a lot to live up to!

    Ninja Exorcist follows the story of Daigo, a master ninja whose clan has been possessed by evil spirits. Apparently, Daigo was struck down by an evil dragon in a past life. The dragon, fearing that Daigo would learn the truth about his past, sends these evil spirits to wage war on Daigo’s world. If his fellow ninjas aren’t taken over, they are slain by their possessed brethren. Saying that the situation is dire would be an understatement. It’s a good thing Daigo knows his way around a sword!

    If you’ve played games like Castlevania back in the day, then you know what to expect here. Gamers will have to battle foes while guiding Daigo from one side of the screen to the other. The maps and levels are designed to be traversed from top to bottom; there are places above and below you that will warrant exploration. Some places aren’t accessible until you’ve unlocked a certain item.  Basically, it features most of the staples found in old school, action 2D platformers. Where Ninja Exorcist stands out is in its use of stealth. As gamers take down foes they’ll earn experience points used to unlock special skills; some of which, are based solely on quietly dispatching enemies. These skills totally change the flow of the game; stealthily dropping down on an opponent sword first is a good way of avoiding a lengthy fight.

    Using stealth in Ninja Exorcist can be a little tricky, however. Gamers will need to stay out of an enemy’s line of sight in order to sneak up on them and perform a stealth kill. After picking up a second sword, Daigo will be able to utilize his shadow vision, which visually outlines his enemy’s line of sight though a cone of light. Even with this feature, it can be difficult to sneak up on bad guys due to the fact that some of them have a very long ranged line of sight. Take the Archers, for example. They will usually pace back and forth in a given area with a normal cone of vision. Then, all of a sudden, it’ll shoot all the way across the screen. If they catch a glimpse of you they alert all nearby guards, making it much tougher to proceed. It’s a good thing that you can purchase offensive combat skills with your earned XP. Powerful strikes, flying kicks, and magic can be effectively used to even out the playing field. There is even a maneuver where Daigo will blow smoke into an enemy’s face, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Awesome!

    I had fun mixing up my attacks based on the situation at hand. That said, Ninja Exorcist isn’t all action, as it also features a lot of basic platforming. My only real complaint here is that you can easily get lost in Daigo’s world. What makes this worse is the fact that there are multiple reasons as to why it’s so easy to get lost. The first thing to note is that there aren’t any indicators telling you where to go. Each map has multiple doors that take you to different areas. This alone isn’t so bad. The problem is that there isn’t any way of knowing that you are going the right way because each area has very little in common with the one before it. Normally there is some sort of change in the environment that indicted you have actually made progress throughout the level. For instance, if you are in the woods and you go through the exit at the other end, you might come out in someone’s palace. Going through another door, found in the palace, might send you to a desert like area. However when none of the environments seem to be connected to one another, it is hard to gage if you are progressing towards a goal or if you have some how opened up a whole new map to explore. Then there is the need to backtrack; remember, certain areas aren’t assessable without the proper equipment. So, after going as far as I could to the right, I had to backtrack back to the left of the screen in hopes of finding a new “way” through the world.

    Even after finding, what one would consider to be a key, I was still lost on where to use it. For instance, after picking up the grappling hook (key) I was able to reach doors that I could not reach before. Only, when I went through the door I found yet another environment. I got a little frustrated when I realized that this new environment was only in here for me to find more arrows for my bow (something that wasn’t needed to progress through the game). The last thing that made my journey more difficult was the fact that, in order to save my progress I had to be near a particular statue. Acting as checkpoints, these statues were positioned in various places in Daigo’s world. Sometimes they were spread a little too far, meaning if I went through a few doors and died before finding one, I had to start over from my last save. The fact that I wasn’t sure if I even needed to be in a certain area made dying and restarting so much more painful than it needed to be!

    Now, before you totally write off this title, please believe that it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Regardless of how tough it was to find my way through it, I did enjoy my time with Ninja Exorcist. Apart from the fun gameplay, the game was also very pleasing to the eyes. Nebula did a good job with the hand painted levels. I also dug the contrast between the dark figures (possessed ninja’s) and the bright red blood. Speaking of enemy designs, while there weren’t that many enemy types to fight against, the few ones featured were cool looking. The sound quality was pretty good as well. Though there are no voice overs, the serene music complemented the stealth gameplay. This also held true when you were caught out in the open; the music would change to complement the impending conflict.

    All and all, I’m very pleased with Ninja Exorcist. It’s a fun title featuring classic gameplay elements, artistic visuals, and decent music. And you can pick it up for only a buck; you can’t go wrong here!



    A fun game with classic mechanics!



    The 2D hand painted backgrounds is well done. The foreground isn’t too bad either.



    Everything sounds as it should.

    What's New:


    There aren’t a lot of new mechanics found here. That said, the new stealth elements are interesting!

    Replay Value:


    There are a lot of areas to explore. Unfortunately, being an episodic game, there aren’t a lot of reasons to replay this title. It’s relatively short and isn’t complete without the other chapters in the series. This score normally changes when all of the episodes can be played back to back though.

    Final Score:


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