Usually we'd turn our noses up at such a lazy form of gameplay, but we found ourselves enjoying it here. The set-pieces are so ridiculous, so impossible to imagine playing using standard controls, that you accept them as interactive cutscenes. On top of that, the button presses correspond to what you'd do if you were in full control, so there's a greater sense that you're still doing something. There will still be a large group of gamers who simply can't get on with what is essentially the gameplay from the now ancient Dragon's Lair, but for us it works and is a tremendous amount of silly fun.
Of course, the usual hack 'n' slash staple of weapon upgrading is present, both for your melee weapons (slow but strong, fast but weak, and average) and your projectiles (air, fire and electric ninja stars), and various items can be found in each map to give you health and other bonuses as you progress. Fallen enemies and smashed up crates even release orbs, just in case you didn't feel quite familiar enough with the other mechanics - we half expected some chests to appear that needing prizing open.
General gameplay sees your ninja character (who, incidentally can change the colour of his ninja outfit to make him look like a clown if you fancy even more madness) slashing up wave after wave of drab looking mutated enemies, and it isn't much to write home about. It's solid, but nothing we haven't done over and over again in numerous games down the years. The whole experience relies on the constant bombardment of bosses so large they defy common sense, and often take more than one epic encounter to finally bite the dust. One level sees you fighting a three-headed fire Hydra while walking across the wings of a burning passenger plane, while a snail helicopter pelts you with missiles that you can deflect back with your sword. It's MENTAL. During a completely unrelated scene a plane comes into shot, and your ninja hero is hanging upside down from his feet, just taking in the view. There's even a double whammy of a boss that can only be described as a daughter riding her father.
From a technical point of view the game doesn't do anything ground-breaking, with the large bosses being the highlight of an otherwise dull looking game. On a fairly decent PC, but not top of the range, you'll be able to run the game smoothly with graphical settings more or less maxed out, but the high resolutions on offer here highlight the crudeness of some of the enemy models. Oh, and the voice acting and in-game acting is verging on terrible, but it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to find out that this suits the game rather well. There's even a character that ends every scene by saying "whatever", like he's some kind of ninja brat.
Ninja Blade has no right to be as entertaining as it is. It's nowhere near as accomplished as the genre's heavyweights, but anyone able to see it as the roller-coaster ride it is should have a great time. It's easy to laugh at all the on-screen randomness and insane bosses, and because of that we can't help but recommend it.