Originally released in 2020 for iOS after a successful Kickstarter campaign, players around the world rejoiced when the beloved mobile game Ninja Chowdown finally made its way to Android in late 2021.
Which I guess makes me doubly late to the boat on this one, but now that I've gotten my hands on this fantastic runner, I'm not letting go. Much like the donuts you'll be chasing down, Ninja Chowdown for Android is delightful, addicting, and occasionally infuriating.
I guarantee you that this game is going to be on our list of best Android games very soon.
You hit the ground running right off the bat as protagonist Donatsu—a hefty, loveable ninja/donut-maker. As a dedicated employee (and pupil?) at the local Doughjo, Donatsu is tasked by his master with recovering the fabled Knownut after it's stolen by jealous rival restauranteurs.
You're launched straight into the gameplay with a minimal tutorial that perfectly matches the minimal amount of technical knowledge needed to play the game. To succeed though? Now that requires skill and wisdom, which will only come with time.
As with many endless runners, Donatsu mostly remains stationary on the left-middle side of the screen while the world rushes past him. Left screen taps give you a jump and double jump and the right screen controls your kunai (extremely cool projectile ninja weapons).
A tap on the right screen will throw a kunai forward in a straight line, while a tap and drag will allow you a brief moment of slowed time to aim anywhere on the screen. It's a short window of opportunity though, and a misfired kunai can often spell your doom.
The difficulty comes from the gauntlet of foes and obstacles you have to navigate to make it to each world's boss. Enemies come at you from the front, back, and even the sky all at once. A single hit is enough to kill poor Donatsu, unless you've acquired a temporary shield to take the hit for you. You also have to juggle these murderous baddies with environmental obstacles, which will also land a one-hit-kill on you if you fail to avoid or destroy them.
After dying the first time in a single run, you can choose to pay a small number of coins (in-game currency earned strictly by playing or watching ads) to resume where you left off. After the second death, though, it's back to the start you go.
In the midst of all this chaos, you're also eating delicious pink donuts to keep Donatsu's strength and spirits up. Eating donuts (you just run into them) will slowly fill up your donut-o-meter and once it's full Donatsu enters into a super attack that allows you to ping pong around the screen destroying everything you touch.
Combine all of this with the fast and furious pace and absolutely bangin' chiptune soundtrack and you've got yourself one helluva game.
There are even a few nice additions that the developers threw in just for funsies, like different outfits, projectiles, and even little pets for you to buy with coins that you earn for completing levels and/or watching ads if you're playing the free version.
None of these different outfits or weapons actually change the gameplay at all, but it is undeniably hilarious to dress up as a ninja donut version of Paul Blart Mall Cop and pursue your enemies on a Segway alongside your trusty pet turtle while hurling cups of hot coffee instead of kunai. That's just good fun gaming right there, people.
More importantly, there's also an Infinite runner mode to keep you playing even after you've finished Story mode. Infinite mode introduces its own sets of optional objectives and runs you through the game's levels and bosses in a single seamless sitting...until you eventually die, of course.
There's not much to complain about with Ninja Chowdown, but there are a few potential pitfalls to keep in mind. One, Ninja Chowdown is free-to-play with ads, which is great for giving it a try. However, if you're like me and you die every five seconds, you're going to be watching an ungodly deluge of ads, as they play every time you die. They're long, too.
It didn't take me long to decide to fork over the $3.49 one-time in-app purchase to buy the ad-free version of the game and I'm so glad I did. That was a handful of dollars well-spent.
Ninja Chowdown is also quite short in actual run-time. Each food-themed world has 6 levels, including its boss, with a total of 35 levels. A single level would take you less than a minute to complete if you had a perfect run, so much of the time you'll put in is probably going to be from dying and retrying. This isn't a big con in my book, as I'm still sinking plenty of time into the experience, but it might turn some players off.
The final hurdle to keep in mind is simply the difficulty curve. Despite its candy-colored palette, kid-friendly puns, and comical vibe, Ninja Chowdown is pretty darn tough. It will definitely take most players some practice to really get a good head of steam going, but again, I don't count this as a strike against it. It makes obtaining achievements and conquering each level feel like a real accomplishment.
If games like Alto's Odyssey are your jam, you need to put Ninja Chowdown on your list. The game's beautiful, fun graphics, A+ soundtrack, excellent gameplay, and hilarious writing all combine to create an overall stellar experience. I'm obsessed and still play almost daily, so I would highly recommend this superb runner to any player out there up for a challenge.
A lifelong gamer, Mogan has had a controller in hand since the PlayStation 1 ruled the world and Neopets seemed eternal. She loves to play new and old games alike, especially if it's something weird and charming. Puzzlers, JRPGs, adventure, and rhythm games are her favorites.
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