There are times when playing 3D action games can be more of a chore than a pleasure. It’s great to immerse yourself in a fantasy world where the rules of our universe no longer apply, but a bit of a pain when you discover that the key to the cellar door is several saved positions away, and you can’t progress through a level because you’ve run out of invisibility potion. Or something. Anyway, sometimes (as any minimal-IQ drunken thug will tell you) it’s nice to have a good old punch-up. Here’s how to do it on your PlayStation.
Ninja; Shadow of Darkness has you playing a… Ninja. What a surprise. Your goal? Like the proverbial chicken, to get to the other side. Only in this game it’s not a road in your way but 13 levels of death and mayhem that include a forest, a monastery, a wilderness, a volcano and even a cloud-land. Viewing your Ninja from the third-person, as in Tomb Raider or (going back a while) Alone in the Dark, you guide him through numerous tricky situations – such as dodging sharp twirling things and even sharper falling things – all the while battling a seemingly endless array of enemies. Some of these are human, and can be despatched with punch, kick or some of the spectacular special moves, while the others take a bit more of a beating before they keel over.
At the end of each level you can buy extra lives, energy and weapons, while there are also plenty of power-ups hidden throughout the game. Some of these hidden artefacts aren’t all that they seem, though. Like the bomb, which caught us out first time. But most of the items are of use, particularly the magical ones and power upgrades. In short, this is your standard arcade action fare, but done with good graphics, varied scenarios and fast-paced gameplay. A two-player mode would have been nice, but for those lonely winter evenings when you just want to kick the crap out of someone, you can rely on Ninja to give you some satisfying action.