In The Lab with NinjaBee’s Andrew Hill and Patrick Spens

Nutjitsu Head

Since their start in 2004, NinjaBee has made quite a name for themselves in the downloadable world. After the success of Cloning Clyde on the Xbox Live Marketplace, NinjaBee has since moved on to bigger venues, working with companies like EA, Real Studios and even Disney. Their biggest accomplishment, Kingdom of Keflings, sold over 600,000 units on Xbox Live and is on it’s way to being ported to the Wii U. With the studio thriving with every new project, they appeared at PAX East 2013 ready to unveil their latest, Nutjitsu.

Nutjitsu is a charming maze runner where ninja squirrels are chased down by a pack of rivaling clan foxes after their hoard of golden and gem encrusted acorns are stolen. Nutjitsu brings the player your average maze running game with randomly set collectable for points and multiple paths to turn down. While it doesn’t set any new standards, the game inpliments an interresting tracking system for enemies. If you get too close to one, they pick up you scent and start to follow exactly where you’re going. Stay within their smelling range too long, and they grow even more aware of you and start moving at a faster pace. While you move much more quickly than everything on screen by default, if you don’t steer clear of baddies long enough, they’ll eventually be able to easily catch up to you. This means you’re going to have to be prepared.

With the tracking system in place, the player will need some sort of upper hand in order to stand a chance. Smoke bombs are among the many scattered collectables that appear in the stage and they are your answer to survival. Using one will immediately make all enemies lose your scent and you’ll stay invincible for a short period of time. They are also automatically initiated when the player gets captured so that if you have one in hand, you won’t have to end the game. These design choices keep the game going longer than most maze runners, as well as give you a target collectable when it appears.

Though the game doesn’t break any new ground, the artistic style is very well done. The scenery is well painted and rendered and the characters are all cute, yet still believably threatening within the game’s reality. The opening cut scene (with more planned) are short, but well done in a similiar style, but with a little more attention to detail. When attracted by enemies, a clear indicator of foot prints keeps you well aware of the surrounding danger and promting a smoke bomb creates a cool effect. While no confirmed platform has been announced, the playable demo was available on the iPad. The touch sensors worked well and nothing was cluttered or confusing.

Nutjitsu may not be breaking any new grounds or showing off flashy gimmicks, but the game’s intent doesn’t appear to want to do anything more than pass your time on the bus. If you’re looking for a game that’s going to redefine what you think of portable fun, this is not going to be it. However, if you want a game that’s going to pass your time with great visuals and aww-enducing main characters, give Nutjitsu at least a minute of your time.