GameplayNinja Sprint, at its core, doesn’t deviate much from the standard ‘run-and-doge’ formula that thousands of other games have followed. The ultimate objective of Ninja Sprint is to guide the protagonist, a ninja-cat-human named Neko, to the end of each level by sliding and jumping past obstacles without depleting Neko’s health. While this may not seem all that exciting in and of itself, Ninja Sprint adds a solid level of variety by introducing new obstacles every few levels and presenting players with multiple possible paths to get to the finish. A coin-collecting and monster-slaying system add a scoring element to the game, giving more involved players the challenge of achieving a perfect score on every level while also allowing casual players to jump right in and play. Slaying monsters (which occurs when Neko runs into a monster) builds Neko’s special attack meter, which can be used to unleash a screen-wide attack that decimates all monsters and obstacles in view. Ninja Sprint, for the most part, manages to stay away from feeling too repetitive, which is definitely a positive for a game that centers its game around pressing only three buttons.
As players progress through Ninja Sprint, new stages are unlocked (which consist of different backgrounds and enemies) and upgrades, such as different special attacks and blood effects, can be purchased with coins earned through gameplay. Like many other mobile games, Ninja Sprint supports real-money transactions, but unlike many other games that feature such transactions, it’s possible to unlock all of the upgrades within a few hours without the aid of additional microtransactions. While it’s not a huge deal, being able to unlock all available upgrades for free without having to spend an unreasonable amount of time is definitely a breath of fresh air from the cash-grab games that many of the bigger game publishers seem intent on pushing out lately.
GraphicsNinja Sprint features a cute, anime-inspired art style that is consistently carried over to all aspects of the game. Everything, from the backgrounds to the monsters to the control overlay, looks detailed and crisp, and there’s no unsightly pixel upscaling to be found in Ninja Sprint’s graphics. Animations and level scrolling are smooth throughout, giving the game a nice sense of speed and movement. One thing that slightly detracted from the game, however, was the tendency of obstacles to blend in with the background and monsters at times. Ninja Sprint attempts to alleviate this by warning players with a large exclamation mark when obstacles are nearby, but this ends up obscuring the sprites of certain monsters, which can make it difficult to quickly decide whether to jump or slide past it.
SoundSound effects in Ninja Sprint do a decent job of conveying the actions they represent (i.e. slashing, collecting coins) and help contribute to the overall gaming experience, though they’re mostly overshadowed by the game’s soundtrack. Composed by Rafael Dyll, Ninja Sprint’s soundtrack features traditional Asian instruments playing over an upbeat, techno background, keeping with the game’s style of mixing ancient styles with modern ones. While Ninja Sprint’s soundtrack is not a particularly memorable one, it does a decent job of giving players the sense of speed and quickness that the game as a whole entails.
Ninja Sprint takes a lot of steps in the right direction to make the ‘run-and-dodge’ genre accessible for players of all skill levels. Its base gameplay is easy enough that casual players can progress through the game without worrying about score or coins, while optional scoring challenges give hardcore players more difficult goals to work toward. Overall, Ninja Sprint is a solid, well-designed package that is well worth the $0.99 price on the App Store.