Buckle in! This is going to be a quick one.
Ninja Dash 3D is the latest shovelware to be scooped onto the Microsoft Store, raising the usual questions of “does it have achievements?”, “is it any good?” and “why do Microsoft allow this on the Store?”. Well, we have answers to the first two questions, but – alas – still no answer to the last one.
Ninja Dash 3D does not have achievements. This is about as thinly featured as you could imagine, with no multiplayer, online or otherwise, and no highscores. Your personal best and your lifetime score are the only things tracked, so you will be motivated solely by whether you can outdo yourself.
Is it any good? We’re yet to encounter a sub-£2, no-achievement title that is worth picking up, but we have faith that it will happen. It’s a matter of time. It just won’t happen with Ninja Dash 3D. This is a game that’s so thin that it’s invisible to the naked eye.
Ninja Dash 3D is an endless runner. You play your average-looking ninja, running on a long, thin platform that’s being constructed in front of your eyes. As the speed picks up and the level progresses, you get closer and closer to that messy creation of platforms, which in turn makes it harder to react.
When you do react, it’s with a single button press. But you don’t jump with A, you invert gravity with it instead, and that sends you hurtling to a series of platforms on the top of the screen. Pressing A again drops you back to the floor. Your biggest enemies are gaps, which will send you flying, and steps ‘up’, which will cause your ninja to crash. It doesn’t matter how nimble your ninja is: a step will spell their doom. Who knew that ninjas could be scuppered with a single staircase?
Sushi pops up occasionally to give you a score boost, but – frustratingly – some of them are dangled over holes, so it’s not always a good idea to grab them. Keep traveling forward and your score increases and the speed ratchets up.
We’ve almost spent more time writing this review than playing Ninja Dash 3D, simply because it couldn’t offer us anything. While endless runners are, by nature, endless, they almost always take you places. The background will change, the obstacles will shift, and the expectation on you, the player, will flex. You always feel like you’re progressing. But while Ninja Dash 3D endlessly runs, it effectively stays still. The obstacles remain the same. You don’t go to new places, and nothing is being stirred into the pot to keep you on your toes. It’s a treadmill.
With more features or rewards, it could have been momentarily satisfying. An online leaderboard would have dangled the tiniest of carrots in front of our faces. Recolours of our tiny ninja as a reward would have given us the minutest drop of dopamine among the boredom. But all Ninja Dash 3D can offer is a personal high score tally. It’s half-hearted and toss-away.
It even comes festooned with frustrations, if you were still on the fence about buying. We found – at least to our tastes – that the distance between ninja and the end of the screen is too close. You simply can’t react fast enough to the obstacles. And there’s an observable latency between pressing the button and seeing your ninja jump. When Ninja Dash is dallying with the finest of margins, the issue is palpable.
Ninja Dash 3D is £1.69 on launch (£4.19 at full price), but you can guarantee it will never return to its RRP. At that price, you can imagine a few people will be tempted, but – please – don’t consider joining them.
This is a video game experiment: what would happen if you stripped absolutely everything from an endless runner? Some questions weren’t meant to be answered, but Ninja Dash 3D answers it anyway, then charges the price of a Starbucks espresso to observe its findings. Step back, put the wallet back in the pocket, and drop a smoke bomb to make a speedy exit.
You can buy Ninja Dash 3D from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S