Monday, February 6, 2012

Katana Land (XBLIG): "A Mission Based 2D Ninja Platformer"

I have had the chance to play a handful platforming games based around the ninja mythology since starting my XBLIG reviewing career. Most of the games released though were from "WINGLAY Entertainment". I was glad to see another developer step up, and introduce a ninja platformer that was different. Kablammo Games, the developer behind "Katana Land" definitely brought something new to the table in that respect. Their game had it's own unique comic book style of art, and the in-game details reflected their interesting style. Aside from the impressive comic book style graphics that were shown, the game also featured an amazing oriental soundtrack that complimented the game quite well. The gameplay itself was well presented, and featured objective based missions and boss battles. While the game wasn't extremely lengthy it offered some things that enhanced it's replay value. Overall the game was executed well, and was presented in a user friendly manner.

The story of "Katana Land" is simple, and straightforward. It seems that the hero/ninja's girlfriend was kidnapped by an evil overlord. To get her back he follows the advice, and tutoring of a wiseman. In order to save his girl he has to complete various objectives along the way, and confront a handful of bosses/demon lords that try to halt his progress. In the end he must face the evil overlord, and free his captive sweetheart. The ninja has various weapons, and attacks in which to complete his quest including a katana, shuriken, and a jump kick. Since he is a ninja he can maneuver through each level in a ninja-like manner. In the end it's up to you (the ninja) to defeat the bad guy, and save your girl.

The controls in "Katana Land" are user friendly for the most part, but definitely take some getting used to initially. The good thing is that there is a controller layout diagram displayed between each mission to refresh the player's memory on how things work. During my playthrough I found that movement could be performed in one of two ways. You could use the (Left Thumbstick) which I did, or you can use the (D. Pad) for a more retro feel. Jumping plays a huge part in the game, and can be done by pressing the (A) button. To swing your katana you simply press the (X) button. To throw shurikens/projectiles you will need to press (Right Bumper). You can also block in the game by pressing the (B) button. The (Y) button is used for the various mission based objectives that you'll find throughout the game. Aside from those standard controls you can also climb ledges by jumping, and using the (Left Thumbstick/D. Pad) to scale the ledges. Once your on a ledge you can press (A) to jump higher, or down plus (A) to scale down a wall/cliff side.

The graphics in "Katana Land" had a cartoon-like appearance to them. The color schemes that were used reflect the time period that the game focused on. The music also had a sound that accented the oriental theme of the game. It had a more modern sound to it though. The character animations within "Katana Land" were quite impressive. All of the characters had an anime/chibi (small bodies, big heads) look, and had their own unique animations/movements. There was a fairly impressive amount of different characters, and enemies within the game including two hidden playable characters. The hidden characters even had their own unique attacks, and projectiles. I didn't find any glitches, or bugs in the graphics as I did my playthrough. In fact the game played very smoothly.

In conclusion I think "Katana Land" was a really solid game. Everything in it was developed without flaw. The gameplay itself was fun, and was executed in a user friendly fashion throughout the entire game. I loved the challenging objective based levels in the game. They weren't too hard to complete, but they did take some effort to finish. If you want to complete the game 100% though you'll definitely want to get the 12 medals that can be earned by completing tasks in a certain manner. The fact that medals are available to earn definitely gives the game some added replay value. The two hidden/playable characters also give the replay value a boost. After playing through the entire game, and getting the three different endings (via the 3 characters) I decided that "Katana Land" is a game that's definitely worth adding to a gamer's collection if they like indie games as I do.

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