Venan is quickly becoming a hot name in iPhone games. I played through and thoroughly enjoyed Space Miner: Space Ore Bust game a few months ago. Lately, I've been playing a new iPhone game from Pickle King Productions that is published under the Venan Arcade label. This colorful, accessible, and addictive vertical platformer known as Ninjatown: Trees Of Doom! is currently 50% and only $.99.
Wee Ninja Ascends the Trees of Doom
The premise Trees of Doom! is very simple: control Wee Ninja (the default name, you can change it) and go up as high as you can. The left side of the screen has one tree, the right side has the other. The vertical platforming part comes in navigating the dangerous traps that are on and in between the trees. These include sections of purple sap, floating devils, horizontal projectile attacks, sections without bark that make Wee Ninja slip, and so forth. As you progress, more and more difficult traps and challenges await you. One mistake, and you have to start all over again, so you have to time your jumps and position yourself properly to succeed.
The controls are introduced seamlessly the first time you play. They only take seconds to learn but you may spend several more minutes getting a feel for how Wee Ninja controls. Just knowing what type of arc and how far Wee Ninja can jump can make all the difference. Of course, all controls are touched based. To jump from one tree to the other, just tap on that side of the screen. Holding down and then releasing makes for for a longer jump. Branches are used to catapult yourself upwards, and from a branch you can land on either the left or the right tree, depending on what you decide. When you get to a branch, simply swipe and hold your finger downwards; this brings up an arrow that shows you the exact spot in which you will land. That's really all you need to know to play Ninjatown, which is why it's so accessible.
The power ups available to Wee Ninja appear randomly and have various positive effects. A purple power up gives Wee Ninja a bubble shield that allows you to take a single hit from either a trap or an enemy and still live (normally, one hit and your game is over). Other power ups give you a quick boost in distance up the trees, allowing you to quickly and safely increase your score. There are several other power ups to grab, and doing so is simply a matter of having Wee Ninja jump in between the trees to catch the power up (which moves up and down, requiring you to time your jump). Also, once you pass what is on screen, you cannot turn back -- so if you missed a power up or a mushroom that gives you a jump boost, you just have to leave it and keep going.
Playing Trees of Doom! is pretty fun, and it's a good choice for a quick 'pick up' game. Even though every time you die you have to start over, the level changes and feels like a fresh new game. That and the instant load times make this game easy to pick up, but it isn't all that hard to put it down. Wee Ninja also supports Twitter and Facebook integration. On every "game over" screen, you will see a button to share your score on Facebook or Twitter. Plus+ is also built in, allowing you to view and compete in global leaderboards and awards.
Visually, Ninjatown is a bright, colorful, well-animated game. The graphics are smooth and I especially like Wee Ninja's expression when he's sliding down the tree. The sounds are good too, especially the quiet, orient-inspired music. The volume of the effects and music can be adjust independently too.
Ultimately, if you're looking for a quick, pick up and play platformer, Ninjatown: Trees of Doom! is worth a look, especially at the $.99 price point.