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Ninja Reflex: A Psychology Experiment on a Disc

Remember when you got paid to sit in a room for an hour while images were flashed on a computer screen and a guy watched you try and distinguish the difference between a consonant and a vowel? Now imagine you’re doing the same thing, only instead of vowels, there are ninjas, and instead of getting paid, you shelled out forty bucks. Pretty bum deal, huh?

Suffice it to say that there isn’t anything special to Ninja Reflex. There are six minigames in which you are required to perform a specific task, be it hitting ninja cutouts with shurikens or catching flies with a pair of chopsticks, in order to advance yourself through the various belt colors. That wasn’t a very long sentence, but there really isn’t much more to it.

I would say that actually training to become a ninja is less of a chore compared to this game. To advance to the next belt, you have to play each minigame more than three times a piece, and if my math skills still serve me well, you have to play over 200 rounds of the same six minigames to get to black belt. That may not be that much compared to other games, but the sheer monotony of the task is an immediate turn off.

One of the things that gets me is that for a game called Ninja Reflex, your reaction times are not stored anywhere. Sure, they pop on the screen for that half a second after you click, but after that it disappears along with your sense of accomplishment. And during your quest for jewels that qualify you for your next belt test, you can’t replay games once you beat them, even if your times sucked balls. But I guess that doesn’t really matter when no real records exist.

Multiplayer is more of a formality than a mode. You can play one version of each of the six minigames, and then compare scores. That’s it. You’d be better off driving your friends to a Circuit City and letting them play the demo stands for ten minutes. At least then you could say that you did something.

There is, however, one thing that this game has that no other does. Meditation. Straight up, sit in silence meditation. You have the option of having the stereotypical old Asian guy talk you through all the steps, or setting a timer on the game for your own silent meditation. While you’re doing this, the screen shows a giant Ying Yang symbol gently rotating back and forth to the sound of nothing. Seriously, if you’re going to meditate, don’t let a video game be your first foray into it. Jesus Christ, I could only listen to 30 seconds of it before deciding that I would be better off just sleeping.

There are a lot of worse games out there that aren’t as well made, but that doesn’t mean you can make a game like this and expect people to pay full price. There is literally no reason for this game to exist by itself. Maybe, just maybe, if some sort of third person ninja shooter with a decent plotline and an array of weapons came out, then Ninja Reflex would be a decent side section for that game. As it stands now, wait for it to hit the ten dollar bin before rejecting it again on the grounds that your local college campus probably has something similarly interesting that pays five bucks an hour.