Game Reviews

Parachute Ninja

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| Parachute Ninja
Parachute Ninja
| Parachute Ninja

A parachute isn't the sort of thing we'd expect any self respecting ninja to get involved in.

For one thing, it's difficult to be inconspicuous hanging underneath a large silk canopy, no matter how much black you're wearing.

The parachute ninja is no self-respecting ninja, though. Sure, he wears the de rigueur black uniform, but his main features are two bulbous eyes and expressive eyebrows mounted on a ball-like body. Oh, and the 'parachute' that pops out of his head whenever you tap the screen.

Float and bounce

Still, like most ninjas he's out for revenge against the mysterious assassin who killed his family and he's going to bounce, ping, and float his way through 30 levels filled with various items to get it.

The first objects you come into contact with are green elastic wires. Land on one and he immediately sticks onto it. Then you can drag him down and let go. Before you do, a ghost trail gives you an idea about his trajectory.

It's the same feature used in Konami's Wire Way, though expanded by the range of objects with which you interact.

There's the parachute, which is vital for fine-tuning your position when falling. It's also important when you come into contact with the fans, which blow you across the screen. In both of these situations, popping out the parachute and then tilting your handset allows you to move the ninja laterally around the screen.

Then there are springy platforms which ping you around, spiky obstacles that hurt when touched, and floating robots and flying monsters upon whose heads you can bounce on Mario-style.

Combine these together with quirky Japanese-themed graphics and audio, throw in complex moving platforms, elastic wires that work on timers, and you've got a game that manages to mix fun and challenge in equal measure.

Hard polish

Aside from these level elements, there are two other reasons Parachute Ninja is so enjoyable.

First and foremost is the sheer tactile pleasure of the control system. Pinging the parachute ninja around - the way he bounces off things and the slow grace that comes from using the parachute - gives the game a sure foundation that's inherently satisfying.

Combined with this polish is the game's reward system. Collecting luminescent creatures nets you points that fill up a meter, which determines your rank at the end of the level.

This rank doesn't matter much - only your pride and some replay incentive - and the fact parachute ninja can't die means you rarely get frustrated. Even when you die with zero points, you just go back to the last checkpoint.

Parachute Ninja isn't perfect. A couple of the more difficult levels come early in the game: notably The Labyrinth.

Equally, the best designed levels tend to be front-loaded, with The Waterline and Timing's The Key particular favourites of mine, and there's a drop off in pace as you play through the latter levels.

But as a simple, beautifully presented, and thoroughly bouncy game, which fulfils the App Store's potential in terms of cheap pick-up-playability, Parachute Ninja is about as good as it gets.

Parachute Ninja

As expressive as its ninja's dashing eyebrows, Parachute Ninja is a great little game that builds on strong tactile physics gameplay with subtle level design
Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.