Ninjin: Clash of Carrots (PS4) Review

What would you get if you crossed an endless runner with River City Ransom and bunnies? You’d get Ninjin: Clash of Carrots, a surprisingly addictive and extremely fun game. From developer Pocket Trap and publisher Modus Games, this mashup of various games and genres have combined into a game which I keep finding myself returning to whenever I have a free moment in my pathetic attempt at getting an S rank on every level!

I’ve had my hands on this game for a while during the PC Beta and finally on the PS4 in its final release version. But, just what is it that I find so addictive and compelling about the gameplay of such a simple game?

Ninjin 1

Off we go, on our treacherous journey!

The story of Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is a story we’ve heard many times over the years, although this time it involves bunnies and corgies! Our game begins with our big-eared bunny’s town being raided by the goons who work for the evil Shogun Moe. Instead of taking all their treasures and women, the evil doers make off with all of the towns carrots! Now, let’s say the animals who lived in said town were turtles, they wouldn’t have cared about this event, they would have probably laughed about it and then went back to eating their lettuce. However, being a town of rabbits, this is big news!

Not happy with the events which have just happened, Ninjin and Akia, our two protagonists, set off in pursuit of the crafty carrot criminals in order to return all of their tasty treats back to their rightful owners! However, I don’t think they realised just how many carrots they stole as you’ll recover thousands on your adventure towards the kingpin behind this dastardly deed. Ninjin: Clash of Carrots can be played in either solo mode or local/online multiplayer as you traverse across many levels and constantly upgrade your arsenal in your mission to become the saviour of all vegetables!

Ninjin 2

I wonder if you can guess their weakness?

Run Forrest, Run:
Ninjin: Clash of Carrots utilises a visual ‘never stop running’ effect which works really well. The landscape is constantly moving to your left, the enemies will hover backwards and anything they drop will slowly travel that way, and the core combat mechanic utilises this unusual position perfectly. So, what do I mean by that? The majority of the enemies are running from left to right, or they will come in from the right to the left but continue to run to the right. This means they can only attack forwards – as they are running and who can attack backwards whilst running?!  This means that if you’re able to get behind them (to the left) then the majority of enemies can’t hit you. I say majority because there are some sneaky gits who will throw bombs or have the ability to attack in any direction.

If this sounds easy though, it isn’t – at least not after you’ve got about six or seven levels in. You’ll begin to encounter enemies who have shields which you can’t slice through, ones which bounce all over the screen, giant tofu blocks which separate into smaller ones which constantly home in on you once you slice them etc… This is all whilst trying to manoeuvre yourself so you don’t run into any of the enemies or leave yourself open to a bomb or stab in the back. I wouldn’t say the game gets as frantic as certain bullet hell games out there, but it comes close at some points as there are a lot of things going on at the same time.

Ninjin 3

Hmmm, looks very familiar…

Which weapon to use?
What I really love about Ninjin: Clash of Carrots, and what has kept me playing for over ten hours so far, is the sheer amount of swords, projectiles, artifacts and abilities you can collect along the way in order to pimp out your chosen protagonist. In terms of swords, you have weapons ranging from very weak but fast knives with a tiny length, all the way up to massive swords which are stupidly long and cause various elemental damage upon contact at the sacrifice to speed and stamina. A lot of the weapons within Ninjin: Clash of Carrots are also modelled off exiting games or characters – for example, you have a blatant rip-off of the Buster Sword from FF7 and even one modelled after the Piranha Plant from Super Mario Bros.

Swords can only attack in one direction, forwards. However, Square initiates a dash move which is primarily used to move out of the way fast and also warp through oncoming lines of enemies. But, if you press Square and Cross at the same time, you’ll perform a dash attack with your sword – this lets you attack in all directions. The downside is it uses up your stamina which must refill over time if you wish to perform more special attacks like this.

As well as your sword, you also have projectiles. These are a bit of a pain to throw as you have to push the right stick in the direction you want to throw it in, then just let go of the stick. This sometimes didn’t work for me – then I found out you can hold the Right stick in the direction and tap either L1 or L2 to throw the projectile. I prefer to do it this way. Just like with the Swords, there are tonnes of new versions to find and purchase, the only difference is these ones don’t have any elemental abilities – but they do have different combat abilities. For example, some may slice through the enemies, so you can hit multiple people at the same time, whereas others may bounce and hit a few enemies before returning back to you, like a boomerang. 

Ninjin 4

Awwww, so cute!

Another purchasable feature reminded me a lot of the recent PixelJunk Monsters 2 game, you can purchase and equip various facial masks. These do absolutely nothing in terms of gameplay or advantages, but they do make your character look pretty and unique. There is even a competition on with the developers to post an image of your own mask on twitter and tag it with #ninjinmask in order to win the chance for it to appear in-game! *This ends on September 14th 2018*

Finally, as you progress through the levels, you’ll unlock new ability stones. These are special abilities which are activated as soon as your focus meter reaches its max. This meter is increased every time you hit or kill an enemy, yet it depletes slowly as you stand around not causing any bloodshed! I found a few of these abilities to be really useful – the frozen chicken one in particular – but the others were a bit lacklustre and didn’t really help that much. The chickens are crazy! freezing everyone and racking up massive multipliers!

Ninjin 5

AKA: Grind TV

It’s difficult being a bunny…
I have to touch on this subject as I’ve seen a few people mention it and I’m also one of those I’m afraid. Ninjin: Clash of Carrots can get pretty hard if you don’t have the right weapons. The abilities are scripted, you get one for defeating a boss, but all the other weapons seem to be random (except those you buy). As such, it’s possible to get to a point where you don’t have the right weapons to allow you to move on at a decent pace. I was lucky as I actually got a massive sword with the flame ability which inflicts 27 damage during the second section of levels. That rendered me OP for a while as the fire element burns your victims and makes them die over time, and the amount of damage it gave out was enough to kill everything in one or two hits. However, if you’re not lucky then there is something you can do…

The Oni TV Show! This is a fictional (obviously) TV show which is basically an endless version of your standard level. This mode isn’t easy as it clocks in at a more difficult setting than usual while throwing in high-level enemies who you may not have even encountered yet, but it lets you farm a lot of carrots. I’ve not really touched on this yet, but Ninjin doesn’t actually give the carrots back to the townsfolk – you use them as currency in the shop (which is ran by a corgi) to buy new gear. That kinda leads me to the question “what is he doing then? Robbing from the rich to spend on gear to boost his abilities to obtain more from the rich?”. I don’t know – I imagine taking out the evil Shogun is his end-goal, just don’t tell the starving children that he’s spent all their carrots on a shiny new sword!

The facial masks are bought using the special rainbow carrots which you pick up. Just as well, they look radioactive, so you wouldn’t want to eat those!

Ninjin 6

Who will you choose?

Bunnies Multiply!
Okay, I mentioned above that there is local and online multiplayer – this is true. However, I have no idea how the multiplayer works! First of all, local co-op is easy. The second player joins in at the title screen and Bob’s your uncle – two players on screen kicking butts and picking up carrots – perfect. Online though is a different matter. When you choose a level in Solo mode, you’re asked if you want to play solo, invite a friend or join a random game. Do you spot anything missing there? 

1. Play Solo – play on your own
2. Invite a friend – Pick a friend off your list and invite them in
3. Join a random game – Join a random person who is playing the game

Where’s the option to play in an open online mode? Whenever I picked option 3, I sat there for ages and it never connected. this could be one of two reasons. 1. Nobody else was playing (which is a shame if it’s true as I love this game) or 2. there isn’t an option to actually let a random person join in and play with you. 

I imagine this game will be a lot of fun with multiple bunnies and I’m going to try it out this weekend when I have a few mates over – but I’m not 100% sure on how you would play with random people via option 3 above (on PS4).

Ninjin 7

Yay! More carrots!

Personal Opinion:
I personally love this game. When I was given the Beta on PC I played it so much the first few days, then I was advised I could have the PS4 version on release so I stopped playing. Replaying it on the PS4 was great – everything runs smooth, the characters are cute yet deadly and the overall art style and aesthetics are great. Sure, the difficulty got to me a few times and I did rage quit on more than one occasion whilst I took a break for a few hours. But that’s the fun of it – it feels like a rogue-like game within a non-rogue-like experience. Each time you play it you either find new items or get enough money to buy something new and shiny.

Then, with your newly acquired weapons, you can take on the same level again and this time hope to come out the victor! If you continually lose then it’s time to ‘Git Gud’ – go grind in the TV show, replay earlier levels or just persevere until you beat the annoying bear who keeps jumping on you and beating the crap out of your lifeless body! *I hated that bear until I burnt him alive!* As I mentioned before, I’ve put in over ten hours so far into the PS4 version and I’m nowhere near done in terms of collecting all the weapons for the trophies – I am up to the last few missions though (which are incredibly difficult in case you were wondering!).

Technical:
Not much to cover here which I haven’t already mentioned. The art style is pixel art, but a more refined pixel art with smoother edges and less blockiness about it. It’s really bright and colourful with its cheery setting and nature combined with the rather brutal obsession our character has with slaughtering everything he sees. Just who is the bad guy here? I think the game looks great and it scales to the TV perfectly. Although I did remote play it a few times and I must say, the smaller screen is also a nice fit for the game – hint, hint! I also don’t have much to say about the sound in Ninjin: Clash of Carrots either. The music fits the mood and atmosphere perfectly and all the sound effects are really well done. 

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Ninjin: Clash of Carrots is a really fun and exciting side-scrolling beat-em-up game with a hint of a Schmup. You won’t have an easy time as you traverse throughout the map in pursuit of the evil Shogun behind stealing all of your towns carrots, all whilst spending said carrots on buying yourself new gear! A lot of times you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by the constant barrage of enemies which come at you from all positions, just remain cool and calm and find their weaknesses. The art style and music perfectly suit this hidden gem and I hope more people pick it up and try it out for themselves!

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Ninjin: Clash of Carrots

£11.99
8.5

Final Score

8.5/10

The Good:

  • Fun fast paced action which always keeps you alert
  • Tonnes of weapons and facial combinations to apply
  • The music is great and really sets the mood
  • Local co-op (and online)
  • Keeps you busy for hours in long sessions or short bursts

The Bad:

  • The difficulty ramps up pretty fast
  • Item drops seem random, meaning you could be OP or doomed depending on RNG
  • Not on the Vita
  • Why does Ninjin spend all the towns carrots on weapons instead of giving them back to them?

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