Red Ninja: End of Honor

19th October 2005
Cover reviewer: Nish
rating: 2 out of 5
developed by: Tranji
published by: VU Games
released: 29th March 2005
rrp: £0
formats: Xbox, PS2

Developers Tranji certainly wanted to impress with their debut game, a 3D action-adventure set in feudal Japan. They went to the trouble of drafting film director Shinsuke Sato (Rock Ďní Roll Mishin, The Princess Blade andÖerÖscenarios for Tekken 4) to weave a grand story of assassination, revenge and honour. Unfortunately, Red Ninja: End of Honor has all the majesty of a tabloid headline: stealth, slashing, and sex.

The red ninja of the title is Kurenai, a girl who saw her father murdered during a ninja raid. Left for dead, Kurenai survived and later trained as a ninja. Understandably, she now seeks revenge. Less understandable is why she ditched the conventional black attire and opted for a bright red kimono. Finishing the ensemble are some stylishly skimpy knickers (black Ė I guess she hasnít broken with all Ninjutsu traditions), which Kurenai shows off with alarming regularity.

Of more importance is the Tetsugen, the gameís unique weapon. Essentially a razor-sharp wire, the Tetsugen is armed with a dagger and can be launched into an enemyís head, chest or feet. A quick button press removes it resulting in decapitation, a sliced torso or, literally, a clean pair of heels and, of course, copious amounts of blood. Later on different attachments become available which allow you to vary your killing techniques as well as transforming the Tetsugen into a grappling hook.

Another lurid weapon in Kurenaiís arsenal is her own body. If itís too tricky to sneak up on a guard you can attempt to call him over and then kill him silently. This involves Kurenai peeking around a corner and fluttering open her kimono whilst cooing ďIsnít it hot today?Ē or else bending over to adjust her footwear whilst jiggling enticingly. However, the guard often ignores Kurenaiís saucy exhortations and rushes over to slice her face off. Thatís if youíre lucky. On more than one occasion a trio of semi-visible ninjas (no joke!) inexplicably appeared killing off any sexual frisson as well as Kurenai herself. Itís a risible technique made all the more pathetic by its poor execution.

Yet the most pressing concern regarding Red Ninja is not whether the developersí ideas are sexist or if they have an unhealthy panty obsession but rather that itís simply not very good. Time devoted on Kurenaiís underwear would have been better spent on fixing the litany of faults that can be made and which hamper what could have been an enjoyable game.

First up is the appalling camera system. The camera dutifully snaps directly onto Kurenai, which is not as helpful as it seems especially when fighting in tight quarters or negotiating some of the utterly frustrating platform sections. You can swivel the view to glimpse Kurenaiís crotch with ease but cannot see if thereís a platform beneath to land on or whether a back-flip away from the danger of oncoming guards will lead into a chasm and instant death.

Other moans include the pause after being knocked down and trying to roll away (the back flip is immune to enemy attacks though) resulting in another visit to the floor; the multi-stage boss fights which see you painfully hacking away at a fearsomely long energy bar until a new attack routing kicks in; and then thereís the eccentric save points which can top and tail a simple cut-scene but not make an appearance before encountering a boss Ė you can continue easily enough but donít switch off until you crack the level!

Red Ninja was released at a knockdown price and can now be picked for around a fiver online. Even at this price Iíd advise you to stop and think a little. I have an almost inhuman level of patience when it comes to video games (what an X-Man Iíd be!) but even I was tested at times. Is it worth the frustration, tears (possibly) and broken controllers (highly likely) with only a chance to ogle a ninjaís arse (no ninja toe!) as compensation?

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