Clumsy Ninja for iPad: A Cute Game Ruined by In-app Purchases

When a fun game like Clumsy Ninjas comes along it often grabs our fancy and becomes terribly addictive, but then later disappoints thanks to the terrible blight of in-app purchases. Clumsy Ninja could keep a casual gamer’s attention for hours, but the gamer will need to pay over and over for the fun. First, lets look at what makes this game so fun and addictive. Games with “cute-factor” seldom draw me in, but this one does. The poor little Clumsy Ninja (Free in iTunes) at the heart of the game shows his big bright eyes with a deer-in-the-headlights look. He’s so cute! clumsy ninja character The early stages of the game include fun achievements that teach the player how to interact with their clumsy little ninja. These tasks teach the ninja how to fight and build his skill and strength. At first he can barely walk around, but after some instruction and training from the gamer, he gets more adept. The gamer and the ninja learn together with the fun tutorials guided by a Sensei who instructs the gamer through an interface we access via a book. It’s a little annoying that the gamer must tap the book after every task. We wish it would just pop up and say we succeeded. Instead the user must tap the book, tap a “Collect” button and read the instructions. clumsy ninja trampoline The Clumsy Ninja interacts with his environment and with objects the gamer must unlock in stages and use to train the character. We teach our Ninja to jump and kick with a trampoline. Some boxes help him learn to kick and punch. A punching bag the gamer dangles in front of the Ninja also helps him learn to fight. Along the way he earns different level belts and grows in his ninja skills. At first the game offers enough methods of earning gems and experience points to do everything without paying a dime. However, we hit one level where we couldn’t even attempt a new level without paying at lest $2.99 for more gems. clumsy ninja objects In-app purchases helps game creators earn more money from those willing to pay. However, every game that comes with in-app purchases must adhere to a few rules for me to recommend them.

  1. If a user must pay for the game in advance, then it shouldn’t require in-app purchases except as an upgrade option after it’s been out awhile.
  2. Games with in-app purchases should offer a method of playing through without the purchase.
  3. Titles with lots of levels may offer in-app purchases so long as all levels don’t cost more than a console game.

Most in-app purchases let the user play through much of the game without paying. It may take a long time or they might need to repeat tasks over and over, but cheapskates can get through much of the game or the initial levels offered without paying. If NaturalMotion charged $5-$10 for Clumsy Ninja and let us play without any in-app purchases or if it offered a way to play through slowly or using repeated tasks, then we’d recommend it. As it, avoid Clumsy Ninja.

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