House of Dead Ninjas
House of Dead Ninjas, apart from being an action arcade game by Adult Swim and Megadev, is not actually about a house packed full of dead ninjas, which is kind of a relief, because that would be pretty boring and also smelly. Instead, it's about a tower full of death, and some ninjas that can't leave well enough alone. Your job is to descend in a tower from landing on the roof, and fight/jump/run your way past masses of angry enemies who would like nothing better than to splatter you all over the randomly generated floors like so much jelly. Why? Well, because apparently a long time ago, a lone ninja made it all the way to the bottom of the tower and found a magnificent treasure there. And everyone knows if there's anything ninjas like more than murder and clinging to walls like voyeuristic spiders, it's treasure!
Controls are fairly simple; run and jump with the [arrow] keys, hitting [up] again in midair to double jump, and [Z], [X], and [C] control your sword, shurikens, and bombs respectively. The latter two are only available in limited quantities, so be conservative and keep your eyes out for extras scattered throughout the place. The goal is to get all the way from the top to the bottom without dying, since death boots you back to the beginning. And you will die. Messily. You have five lives for each attempt, and a single hit is enough to do you in, though you'll pop back to life where you stand, and your timer and items will reset. As if that weren't bad enough, you're also racing the clock; a timer counts down as you run, starting at a measly thirty seconds, so you'll have to nab clocks like a particularly stabby White Rabbit to replenish your time whenever possible if you don't want to lose another life when it runs out.
Playing House of Dead Ninja is appealingly simple; just keeping going downwards, and try not to die. Along the way, you'll find treasure for bonuses, trapped fairies, and an increasingly varied assortment of enemies waiting to put the hurt on you. But as simple as it seems, there's actually a bit of strategy to be had, and rushing along blindly is the best way to get yourself a painful demise. Learn how best to use your arsenal; you can grab shurikens you've already thrown at an enemy before they vanish if you're quick, bombs can be used to blast open certain areas of the floor and walls to get at treasure or other power ups, and you'll even find a secret warp zone if you've been a good little ninja all year long.
Analysis: I guess I just have to accept it. I love hard platformers. There's something in the back of my brain that wakes up squealing with monkey-like glee whenever I'm confronted with a challenge like the one presented here. House of Dead Ninjas is difficult, sure, but it wouldn't be half as fun if it wasn't such a snap to pick up and play. The randomly generated layout keeps you on your toes, the constant changes of scenery and enemies keeps the tower from feeling tedious, the timer is hardly ever an issue, and, if you're into that sort of thing, the retro presentation really is flawless. Make sure you check out the manual from beginning to end; not only does it explain things you might not pick up on gameplay, but it really does look and read like something that would have come with a cartridge back in my day. T
Of course, the downside is that the farther you progress, the more you start to resent that increasingly severe looking boot back to the top of the tower. Games with this style of difficulty have their audience, but they have an exceptionally hard time winning over newcomers. Because the layout and item drops are randomised, it feels like half of the game can potentially come down to luck over skill; there were times were I could go 75+ floors without seeing an extra life, while one run netted me a total of nine lives within the first thirty floors. While it would have ruined the old-school arcade machine vibe the game is going for, there were still times when I would have given any number of other people's first born children for some sort of checkpoint or upgrade system that would grant permanent extra lives. Or maybe a bazooka. I bet ninjas had bazookas. Don't you dare ruin this for me, internet.
In spite of that, I still kept wanting to play. In fact, when I'm done writing this, I'm going to go play some more. There's something wonderfully addictive about the whole experience, and if you take your time and don't move too quickly, which is what leads to stupid deaths, you'll get a lot farther. Part Tower of Greed with a sprinkling of Spelunky and Kung Fu Hustle, House of Dead Ninjas is a crazy, run-y, hack-y slash-y, throwback to yesteryear complete with one nostalgia inducing set of sound effects. For the most part, it's a breezy, fun but challenging little game with a very responsive set of controls and a . How many floors are there? Uh... a lot. Like, a lot a lot. But if you're a bad enough ninja, I'm sure you can rescue the presidentIMEAN, uh, get to the bottom of it all. After all, how hard can it be?
(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)
House of Dead Ninjas - Tips and Tricks
Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive
Although you begin with only five lives, that number can be increased by hearts you pick up. So even if you're at "full health" and haven't taken a hit yet, don't ignore any hearts that you come across, since they'll stack.
Dying not only resets your timer, it also resets all your bombs and shurikens to the default of 20 shurikens and 5 bombs. This may sound good if you're running low, but since weapon pickups stack, but it also can make you LOSE weapons; even if you had 30 or more shurikens, for example, getting hit resets that back down to 20.
Shurikens also stack beyond your initial capacity, so grab any and all you come across.\line - If you see a flashing gold/red/orange clock, grab it! It'll give you a substantial bonus to your clock beyond the typical 30 seconds. Unfortunately, it isn't "permanent", so dying or grabbing a new clock to refill your timer only grants you your normal 30 seconds back.
The end of the large, spiked "wrecking balls" that swing around is the only part that can hurt you. You can run through the chain without being injured.
You can be injured by your own bombs, so be careful about using them in enclosed spaces. Since bombs will bounce off walls when thrown, if you're trying to blast through an obstacle, stand a few paces back for it.
Spikes are lethal even if you don't land on them, so don't try to walk through them or get too close. You should always stay away from spikes, even if they offer you candy or ask you to help find their puppy.
Even if you're standing on a one tile block and an enemy is on the floor, do NOT get too close. Apparently, toes are a ninja's greatest weakness, and if an enemy comes too close to you while you're standing near the edge, it still counts as a hit. No, it isn't fair. Yes, I feel your pain.
Shurikens can travel "through" one-block high obstacles and strike enemies beyond it, but only if you aren't crouching.
Thrown shurikens always bounce off enemies and lodge momentarily in a surface nearby. If you're quick, you can grab them before they vanish and use them over and over.
Making Friends and Enemies... But Mostly Enemies
Mummies/skeletons will chase you as long as they can see you, and they're very fast. They can be killed with a single shuriken, but often just dropping down out of their line of sight or over a block is good enough, since they can't climb.
Frogs leap back and forth and can only be hit if you're crouching... anything else will sail right over their head.
The small, winged green lizards throw swords every few seconds in a straight line left or right, depending on which way your direction. They'll even throw a sword if you're on the level above them, however, so you can just wait for them to throw before dropping down. You can also dodge the sword by crouching.
Green ninjas only march back and forth until they hit an obstacle. They will not go over obstacles, or move down floors.
Purple ninjas can't climb, but they will drop down if they come to a break in the floor and keep going.
Fat ninjas just walk back and forth between obstacles, and they take two hits to kill.
Once you get down to the stages where the floor is made of green, red, and purple blocks, always be on your guard. Here you can find a dragon that pops out of the floor and spits fire at you. You can only see it before it pops out of the ground by watching out for its tiny green spikes, so you'll need CONSTANT VIGILANCE if you don't want a fireball sandwich.
The flashing insect/alien-ish enemies cannot be killed, so just avoid them. They travel along walls and ceilings.
The bouncing chickens won't come near you, but they will stay in one place and block your way unless you kill them.
The bonus you get for dropping down a level corresponds to how much time you have left. So if you have 20 seconds on the clock when you go down a floor, you'll get a 20 point bonus.
Even if you aren't hurting for time, you might want to make an effort to grab all the clocks you come across, since each one nets you a cool 3000 points.
Gold objects like keys or bars are usually behind a wall or floor you'll have to bomb your way through, but each one is worth over 1000 points.
Each fairy you rescue from a bottle follows you until you get hit, and provides a bonus to the points you get from any action by providing an equal amount of points. So if you kill a fat ninja, normally 300 points, and have a fairy following you, you'll get 600 points instead. This also applies to the points you're granted for descending a level. You can also have multiple fairies, and the bonus stacks, so grab any you see.
Ninja and the Chamber of Secrets
If you see an irregularity in the floor or wall (like a cracked or differently coloured block, or an object that doesn't go with the rest of the tile set) try bombing it.
Green doors act as a way to skip a few floors quickly. Simply hop inside one by walking into it, and you'll be transported down several levels.
Warps, which look like black holes, take you to a special world where nothing can hurt you, allowing you to quickly descend through floors and past enemies without trouble. The problem is that while you can grab weapons, fairies, and treasure, there are NO clocks, so you'll need to hop quickly back into another warp to get back out if you don't want to die when your time runs out.
Posted by: Dora | January 13, 2011 11:25 AM
Wow, great advice Dora! Here's a few more tips to help players progress:
If you stand on a destructible block and push down twice in quick succession you'll destroy the block without having to waste a bomb.
Whilst falling, tap down to start the piledrive attack, which will instantly kill anything that gets in its way.
If, well, I mean WHEN you do die, hammering the direction keys will allow you to recover more quickly and get going again.
All of the keys can be redefined in the options menu - particularly handy if you're left-handed or French.
I'm sure there's more but that should be enough to keep you going for now. Best of luck!
Posted by: Megadev | January 13, 2011 2:48 PM
Thanks to Mike of Megadev for the earlier replies. I forgot to mention in my earlier post that this is of course a great game. Thanks for making it!
My highest level is around 270 and I've still have to see a Bahamut. I still get killed a lot by the dragon Knives.
Since everyone is sharing, here are some more tips and tricks.
You are your own worst enemy: Notice that you move very fast but enemies move at somewhat "normal" speed for a video game. This means that most of my first deaths were due to myself running into enemies, not the other way around. Don't move at maximum speed all the time. Pause to think.
Resources: Most resources, including time can be thought of as limitless. In all the games I've played, I've never run out of any weapons. I ran out of time maybe 3 or 4 times in total. Just pretend they are infinite. When you get better at not dying (and thus fewer "weapon recharge", you will also get better at finding and conserving weapons.
Throwing stars: As a follow up to the above advice, (almost) always use throwing stars to kill enemies in front of you. Even at point blank range. In fact, if you are too close, you will almost always pick up the star you've just thrown immediately.
Think: Think about how you died. There is usually a way that you could have avoided this which does not involve better reflexes.
Go down slowly: If you have the option of jumping down two consecutive floors, jump down one floor first, take a look at what is below you and then decide what to do.
Use the bomb: Most think you would normally think can't be killed can in fact be destroyed by the bomb. This includes Madman (the border following light) and Gror (the thwomp like monster) and anything else in the stats in the game over screen that does not have a "N/A" in the kill column.
Frogs: They are not that dangerous. You can crouch and throw a star if there is no blocks between you (see above comment about always throwing stars). If there is a height 1 block between you then you are already safer and you can throw a star right as they jump and still kill them.
Madman (the border following light): You can actually drop down a one space wide gap while a Madman is moving upwards if you cling to the wall opposite to the one it is on.
Crouch: Always stay crouched if you can remember. You can still do anything you could while standing (attack, move, jump). It avoids many deaths (especially from Knives later on). The only time you want to stand is to throw a star above a height 1 block. If fact, if it were in the options, I'd set "down" to be UNcrouch (and be crouched all other time).
Jumping up: It is possible to jump back up any hole you fell down. It is a bit difficult if there no walls on either side of the hole you fell down. You need to double jump (at maximum height) and immediately cling to one side of the hole and immediately wall jump after that. This is especially useful if you see that you've missed a clock or heart. Even if you need a few attempts, it usually doesn't cost that much time.
Custom keys: To make the above much easier, I've set my jump key to "c" and bomb to "a" (on a qwerty keyboard).
In fact, I've managed to jump above the first level and climb up the "wall". I've only found darkness higher up and haven't tried using all 5 lives to jump to the highest point to see if there is any secret. But I've tried it for 3 lives and I do fall down for much longer (afterwards) if I use 90 seconds to wall jump than 30.
(the next one I should be listening to myself, but haven't done so yet)
Bomb down: When there are enemies patrolling below and you want to drop down there, it is much safer to throw a bomb than to try to kill them with a downward thrust or throw a star after dropping.
It would be interesting (as, say, an unlockable bonus) to be able to play at half speed or something. I feel like it be very easy since the enemies would all move in slow motion but you would move at a "regular" speed.
Posted by: JIGuest | January 14, 2011 8:56 PM