July 23, 2015 8:46 PM | Sean Flint
Hack & slash games are some of my favorites. There is just something so satisfying about carving your way through hordes of enemies, especially when you can get big combos. My expectations of Yasai Ninja, based on the trailer and information I had read on the game prior to playing it, were that it would almost be a spectacle fighter of sorts. Set in a feudal Japanese world, you take control of Kaoru Tamanegi and Broccoli Joe in a quest for revenge.
Yasai Ninja initially caught my attention because of the characters, as I'm assuming is the case with most people. Having not one, but two vegetable main characters definitely catches the eye. I was looking forward to taking part in an epic revenge tale that followed two well-designed characters, and that would feature some interesting dialogue.
The story is actually quite simple. Kaoru has recently discovered that his Shogun is a traitor, and has decided to embark upon a quest for vengeance. He then finds Broccoli Joe trapped in a cell, as he was caught stealing, and decides to rescue him and drag him along on his mission. It is a typical revenge tale, but that's not necessarily a bad thing (I mean, have we all not seen every Death Wish movie?).
Unfortunately, my first gripe with Yasai Ninja lies in its character design. The most exciting part of the characters is the fact that they are vegetables. I found a lot of the dialogue to be a bit bland, and thought that the characters lacked personality. In other "dynamic duo" titles, you will often hear the characters argue with each other, and just take part in general silly banter. I think that had Yasai Ninja added in some idle chit-chat, it would have done wonders to make the characters feel more alive and interesting.
The thing that I found most disappointing about Yasai Ninja was the combat system. I don't know another word to describe it, other than dull. While you are attacking, you are frozen in place. This means that you will spend the majority of combat standing in one spot, spamming your attack button. While there are combos, they are extremely difficult to pull off because the combat is not as smooth as I would like. As stated earlier, I expected a hack & slash style combat system, and instead, it almost ended up feeling like a turn-based game. Combat was slow and uninteresting, and I often found myself rushing through encounters just to move on to other parts of the game.
Enemy variety is fairly nonexistent. You'll find yourself fighting mainly the same sour cucumbers for quite a while. Even the bosses are just larger versions of the basic enemies with slight variations. I found this to be a bit disappointing as well, because with the amount of vegetable enemies to choose from, it's kind of sad that they were only able to include one.
Yasai Ninja is definitely not all bad, however. I did find some enjoyment in the platforming sections, even though they were extremely simple. The difficulty of the game overall is very easy, but at least the platforming left me with a chance of failure. I enjoyed timing my jumps and trying to complete the sections as quick as I could. The platforming sequences were my favorite part of my time with Yasai Ninja, which is a shame considering the combat should be the main focus of the game.
All in all, Yasai Ninja is a bit of a let down, personally. I was really looking forward to playing a fast-paced hack & slash game, and instead I was met with something that felt sluggish, and a bit boring to be completely honest. The characters were not as fleshed-out as I was hoping for, which would have helped a lot with making the game more interesting. I'd have to say that I cannot recommend Yasai Ninja, based on the fact that I could not find any enjoyment out of it, regardless of how hard I tried. I did not have a chance to try out the game's co-op, so maybe that will help to make it a bit more interesting, but I don't really see that being the case, honestly.
If you would like to check the game out, however, you can find it on Steam, Playstation Store, and the Xbox Live Marketplace for $14.99.
*These impressions are based on the PS4 version of the game.