Ninja Monkey School is essentially a rhythm action game, albeit one disguised in an unusual package. As the game’s title would suggest, you’re a simian ninja, training under the legendary Master Bei Wu Rong. Your learned leader has developed a unique system for quickening your reflexes (along with your heart rate)–he chucks a lot of dangerous items at you and hopes you’ll be able to strike them down. Although Monkey Ninja School’s singular concept is competently executed, the game feels pretty flawed by design. Timing-based games can work well on mobile, but only if they’re fun to play.
Ninja Monkey School features six stages, which will tax your monkey butt with progressively more objects to strike down. Each of these levels can be played in training mode, in which Master Bei Wu will tell you exactly what you’re doing “Rong.” When you successfully bat away a few consecutive barrels, knives, or beach balls, a little commendation will appear at the bottom of the screen, saying “Progress.” Skilled play also charges your chi meter which, when filled, can be used to unleash a devastating special attack. This is in addition to your standard attacks, which target pieces at three angles on either side of your monkey.
The game does a decent job of gradually ratcheting up the difficulty, but never becomes truly challenging. If you’re familiar with the button locations on your keypad, you’re already on your way to a sixth-dan monkey black belt. If you’re playing on the Nokia 3650’s radial dial, however, you’re screwed (we thankfully used the Nokia 6620). Regrettably, we found ourselves losing health most often when the collision detection on incoming barrels failed.
Graphically, Ninja Monkey School is a fair effort. There are a variety of animated backgrounds, and the pugilistic primate onscreen animates fluidly. Even when you’re being barraged by several objects at once, no slowdown was in sight.
Every ninja worth his salt trains in silence, so there’s naturally no background music in the game, apart from its introductory jingle. You also wound hear any sound effects, as you’re undoubtedly, through intense concentration, blocking out all noise. Seriously, the inclusion of sound in a game based on powerful kicks and punches would have been nice.
Ninja Monkey School isn’t broken in any way; it’s just not particularly enjoyable. While it might be interesting as an PlayStation EyeToy minigame, Ninja Monkey School’s uninspired, timing-based system is pretty boring on mobile.