NinjaBee worked wonders on the Xbox 360 with arcade games such as Cloning Clyde, Ancients of Ooga and the Keflings titles being real standout affairs. And now they have popped up with their first Xbox One title; but has Nutjitsu got the balls (or indeed the nuts), to take it to the big guns and make a success of itself in the next generation?
Nutjitsu is the most simplest of games. You play as an acorn hoarding squirrel who has seen his magical sacred clan relics stolen by the kitsune samurai and with that in mind, you’ll need to enter the squirrel and grab those acorns back. Set as a top down arcade title, you’ll immediately see and feel a resemblance to that master title of yesteryear, PAC-MAN, and Nutjitsu is about as simple as that ever was.
However, whilst PAC was all about gaining the highest score possible, Nutjitsu changes things up slightly and focuses much more on the ultimate goal of achieving a top overall rank. This is done by taking on each of the random levels in turn and completing a set objective for each one. The difficulty level you choose has a big effect on how long each level will last and it’s easy to mess around on a single level for anything from one to twenty minutes, with each of the 15 maps coming at you randomly, as does the objective at hand. There are only five different types of game play mode; collect a specific number of acorns, collect a certain amount of the correct colour acorn, pick up a load of hidden scrolls, bag some acorns (like all good squirrels do), and finally hide away from the pesky foxes in a magical area for a specific length of time.
And while you’re attempting to complete any of the objectives, you’ll always have one eye on what those foxes are doing as the second they see you, they’ll chase you down until you’ve been caught. To help you escape, five various weapons have been magically acquired by the squirrel and without these, he wouldn’t last two minutes. You’ll need to become skillful in the art of smoke bombs, ninja speed, freeze bombs, flame cloaks and shadow clones in order to survive as each of the pursuing foxes has his own little trick up his sleeve in their attempts at capturing you. Hitting a cumulative score unlocks each weapon, how many times you can use them and how many you can have assigned at any one time and so whilst you’ll need to power through the lower levels of difficulty early on, once you’ve got a fair few special weapons unlocked (and you’ve earnt enough acorn points to purchase the weaponry), you’ll find it fairly easy to move up a bit and attempt the maps at a higher level of difficulty.
Everything you do in Nutjitsu is cumulative and helps you work your way to the ultimate goal of Squirrel Rank 25 and so unless you want to spend hours on end grinding away with the easy objectives, you’ll need to find a way to complete the more difficult stuff which gives out bigger points rewards asap.
Aside from the random levels of the campaign in which you complete dangerous missions for the Ninja Clan, Nutjitsu also brings a survival mode which gives you the opportunity to take one map and try to spend a lifetime evading the kitsune. You will have to unlock each map in the normal campaign first, but it’s a fairly decent little addition if you fancy a change from the norm.
And that really is about it for Nutjitsu. It’s a simple game that on one hand runs with some rather nice hand drawn environments that are well planned and does a job for a few hours, but on the other won’t ever set the world alight. Aside from a few dodgy moments navigating the trickier tight spots of some levels (especially when Ninja Speed has been activated), it doesn’t really do anything wrong but once you’ve mastered the way of the squirrel and hit rank 25, there isn’t much of a reason to go back and play any more.
If you fancy earning yourself some achievements though, then jump on board right away because it has the easiest 1000 gamerscore I’ve yet to see in an Xbox One title.
Should you enter the squirrel? For the price, there’s no harm in taking a punt.