Ninja Usagimaru -The Mysterious Karakuri Castle- Nintendo 3DS Review

GameStop, Inc.

ninja-usagimaru-title-1

Ninja Usagimaru -The Mysterious Karakuri Castle- is the 2nd installment in the Ninja Usagimaru 2D action-puzzle series by Aksys Games. Released in August 2015 in Japan, the game has finally hit North America and Europe.

Overview

You play as Usagimaru, a legendary ninja, whose sole purpose is to protect his village from monsters known as Mononoke. He is joined by his trusty heavenly rabbit, Toyoukebime, to dispel evil and protect the village. Through 60+ levels, you solve short puzzles using Usagimaru’s skills, kunai, hookshot, and kite. Your goal is to save villagers from Mononokes and take them to an Usagi Statue. Every level has various monsters and obstacles that require you to think a few moves ahead before committing to any actions. Thankfully, the game provides a reusable checkpoint feature that allows you to place a pinwheel anywhere on the stage. You can return to that point whenever you make a mistake.

As most action-puzzle games go, there isn’t much of a storyline other than what you read from the description of the game. You start the level, solve puzzles, retrieve a villager, finish the level and move on to the next. What Ninja Usagimaru -The Mysterious Karakuri Castle- does differently is that the steps to finish each level don’t have to be done in any particular order. Once you complete a level, you can go back and try a new way and/or solve it faster. After the quick tutorial, you are thrown right into challenging puzzles. If you’re not used to puzzle games, this one will definitely take a few minutes to figure out.

Aesthetics

The cute/chibi-like art style is definitely a hit or miss with gamers, especially those who haven’t played the 1st installment, -The Gem of Blessings-. On the other hand, puzzle game fans that enjoy games like the renowned Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo will see this as a plus. Other than the art style, there isn’t much to take away from the graphics, as it looks like your typical 8-bit/retro puzzler.

Gameplay

The most troubling issues with this game are the clunky controls, lack of touch screen use, and absence of some sort of achievement system for completing levels.

While doing my play through, I found myself continuously starting levels over. I didn’t realize I wasn’t moving my joystick in the EXACT direction and timing before pressing a button to use the character’s skill or place an item. I tried not to use the pinwheel (I saw it as a cop-out), but quickly realized there was no penalty for using them. Placing them right before an obstacle usually helped me avoid starting the level over. Even while using the pinwheel, I just couldn’t solve some puzzles without dying because of the controls. I was basically at the mercy of the control inputs and hoping that I did everything correctly in the string of an obstacle.

A small peeve of mine on the 3DS is when a game doesn’t use the touch screen at all. Even for menu options, where a simple press of an item will get you through the menu faster, should be in every 3DS game. I understand that it isn’t necessary for a puzzle game, but the use of the touch screen for certain skills/actions would have helped out significantly. This probably would have stopped me from restarting levels for reasons stated previously. The game had none of that and the bottom screen was only used to remind you of SOME controls and give Toyoukebime unnecessary dialogue about the level.

The level system is great in most games to maximize replay value and get people to accomplish a goal or get a reward out of the game, but for -The Mysterious Karakuri Castle-, this does not happen. Once you finish a level, you never go back to it and you never need to finish any of them quickly because there is no penalty. For completing a level, all you get is a clear symbol over the stage. Once you’ve completed 10 levels, 10 new levels appear, so on and so forth. I would understand if this was a relaxing puzzle game like Sudoku, but this is an ACTION-puzzle game and most of the components are lackluster and didn’t keep my interest in the game after 30 minutes.

Conclusion

While most of the levels are challenging, the game proves to be more troublesome than fun. You never get to enjoy the game for what it’s supposed to be: an action-puzzler. More often than not, you will realize the action and puzzle aspects aren’t blended well.

If you enjoyed the 1st installment of the series, you will most likely be content with Ninja Usagimaru -The Mysterious Karakuri Castle-. For avid puzzle game fans, this is probably a game you can skip and try something less frustrating.

Ninja Usagimaru -The Mysterious Karakuri Castle- is currently available in the Nintendo eShop for $5.99.

Ninja Usagimaru -The Mysterious Karakuri Castle-
  • 6/10
    Aesthetics - 6/10
  • 4/10
    Gameplay - 4/10
  • 5/10
    Puzzles - 5/10
5/10

Summary

+ Challenging puzzles
+ Cute art-style

– Clunky controls
– No touch screen use
– No level rewards
– Little replay value

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

FanboyNation
Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Paul Crowder and ‘Boss’ Wooldridge Talk ‘The Blue Angels’ Doc – Interview

Director, Paul Crowder and Flying Ace, Greg “Boss” Woolridge talk about...

Eric Bana Talks ‘Force of Nature: The Dry 2’ – Interview

Eric Bana Returns for the sequel to ‘The Dry‘ in ‘Force...

Letitia Wright’s Talks about her Latest Film ‘Aisha’ – Interview

Letitia Wright’s latest film, ‘Aisha‘, a story about immigration, resilience, friendship...

Event News Event Reviews
Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ Takes You to A Whole New World at Segerstrom – Review

Disney’s Aladdin takes the audience on a thrilling chase and a wonderous place...

Dark Harbor Returns to Long Beach on The Queen Mary this Halloween

The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Returns to Long Beach for the...

It’s Showtime! ‘Beetlejuice’ is a Hit at Segerstrom Center of the Arts – Review

It’s Showtime! ‘Beetlejuice‘ is a Hit at Segerstrom Center of the...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Paralympian Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger On The Road to Paris

Team USA Paralympian Swimmer, Ahalya Lettenberger is On The Road to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse part something: Hermione and the Mini-gun pt 2

Have a lead salad instead!

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse part ?: Hermione and the mini-gun pt 1

It can't fire more than 6,000 per minute!

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse: Kurt v Sid – HASTA!

Hasta La Vista Baby!

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus
MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Roye Okupe Brings Authentic African Representation to HBO Max and Cartoon Network

Nigerian-American, Roye Okupe brings authentic African representation to HBO Max and...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...