Something is happening to me lately, and I’m not sure if I should fight it or just sit down and embrace it: I am moving away from mainstream titles. Sure, sure, I recently burned through BioShock Infinite, but I’ve also been spending a lot of time playing browser-based indie gems like Kingdom Rush and unknown point-and-click adventures like Patchwork and under-the-radar SRPGs like Fire Emblem: Awakening. Well, one could totally probably argue that, with the latest in the series, Fire Emblem has reached it big time. But whatever, I am digging a lot of freeware titles as of late. Which brings me to the latest freebie title I’m enjoying: Super Ninja Slash.
Created as “another game jam game” by Kyle Pulver and with music by Danny Baranowsky, Super Ninja Slash clearly takes inspiration from the not-so-surprising success of Mark of the Ninja, the XBLA title that, in one swoosh, seemingly redefined the stealth genre. Based on its name, you’d think it was a straightforward slice-and-dice action game in the vein of many SNES romps, with you taking down enemies left and right thanks to your untouchable ninja skills. Well, sure, you can do that if you want, but the main goal of the game’s nine levels is to reach the exit alive. You can either avoid guards or, so long as you are quick enough, take them out with a single slash. Other pitfalls include holes in the floor and electrified barriers.
The game looks rather retro, but moves surprisingly smoothly. You can double tap the arrow key to give the ninja a speedy boost, and he/she can wall-jump, though sometimes jumping from a wall to another platform is a little clunky as you have to hold an arrow key in one direction and then hit another as you jump to change directions. Orange-colored guards carry flashlights, which represent their vision cones, and getting spotted once is an instant kill. I appreciate the swift violence they drop on the ninja once alerted. Again, if you can jump and swing your sword fast enough, you can take out some guards. I’ve been doing a bit of both; some levels I snuck through completely unnoticed, and others I had to take out a guard or two to make the path a little easier to tread.
I got up to level 8 (of 9) during my first stint with Super Ninja Slash, but had to close out for work-related reasons. I kind of wish that, just like in Kingdom Rush, local progress data was still saved somehow, but I won’t mind replaying the levels again too much as it is all training for the later, more difficult parts. The website even keeps track of who is the fastest ninja, the deadliest, and the most peaceful, though I suspect I’ll never hit the top of any of those lists due to my lackluster keyboard skills, but that’s okay. Ninjas aren’t meant to be seen, anyways.