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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.



  1. Bradley

    11/24/2013 at 9:01 am

    That’s enough already with you people complaining about IAP. The same happened with PvZ 2 and all the other free to play titles this year. NEWSFLASH: 99% of games in the app store have them. Get over it. I could easily say Temple Run is a fun game but it’s ruined with in app purchases. Nothing in this game can’t be achieved just by purchasing something, it’s all unlockable. Stfu

    • Simba

      11/25/2013 at 10:27 am

      I just got paid $6784 working on my laptop. Since I started freelancing over this site, with a little effort I easily bring in around $45 to $85 per/h! This is the easiest and most financially rewarding job I’ve ever had. I actually started 8 months ago and this has totally changed my life. This is what I do……..

  2. allison

    11/24/2013 at 10:57 am

    I’m sorry but I don’t agree with this. You don’t need to pay for gems to unlock the objects, you just need to level up. Some items are made available from a certain level, if you want them before you reach said level you can buy the object with gems. If you don’t want to pay you just need to level up to make the level available by training your ninja. The game clearly say that you can unlock the object with gems or keep training your ninja until you reach the level needed. I made it at level 14 so far and didn’t spend even one cent.

    • Lqmn

      11/24/2013 at 8:07 pm

      I agree with allison. The reviewer really should edit his post and do justice for the apps. Its NOT compulsory to buy the gems to play along the game. It just takes a bit longer to level up and buy the required item for the task.

    • Rouquin

      12/12/2013 at 2:53 am

      Yes BUT to train and thus level up you have to repair all the objects (trampoline, bags, etc.) so you either have to wait (sometimes a lot…) or repair them instantly using gems. As I don’t want to spend real money buying gems, I usually have to wait and in the end I just stop playing.

      I would rather have to pay 5$ for the app and nothing more and be able to play when I want and for as long as I want.

      So in the end, the game is nice but it is definitely ruined by in app purchases… basically every game is ruined by IAP…

      • Nick

        12/12/2013 at 7:29 am

        Um….no you don’t…..trampolines punching bags and balls repair by themselves….

        Use some coins to buy balloons if your impatient….75 coins for 5 x 6100xp

        How are you using your gems?? I’m saving for the Santa suit.

  3. Nick

    11/24/2013 at 11:10 am

    Thank you Allison,

    This review made me second guess DKing this game, but your right, with levelling up everything becomes available by 50th.

    You even get daily rewards for his napping, along with chickens, bees and treasure chests, so if your willing to train and save your coins you can buy any item.

    Thanks again for pointing out our reviewers confusion.

  4. Rambo

    11/24/2013 at 2:36 pm

    You wouldn’t get even 1000 downloads if the app was priced at $5-$10. People download whatever is free. And IAP is a good way to make money out of it. Its better to have a control on how much you want to spend on the game than to spend $5-$10 and be disappointed with it if someone doesn’t enjoy it.

  5. Mark Tompkins

    11/24/2013 at 2:38 pm

    Did you pay for the app? I didn’t either. What exactly are you complaining about? Great FREE game. Don’t like it, don’t play it.

  6. Levi Dettwyler

    11/25/2013 at 12:03 am

    I’m sorry, but you simply didn’t understand the game. I’m at level 21 and I haven’t given the game a single dime (although the holiday bundle looks pretty fun…). Your screenshot shows you stuck on level 7. You need to train the Ninja up another level before you can get that item.

    I would say that it’s the game designer’s fault for not making this obvious, but come on. It’s right there in the middle of your screenshot. It clearly states that you need to be at level 8, and the top left meter shows you at level 7. The *fundamental mechanic of the game* is training your ninja with various items to get XP to level up. This one’s on you. Your article is wrong. How long until you publish a correction?

    • ClassicUser

      11/27/2013 at 5:25 am

      Spot on, Levi. The reviewer apparently doesn’t understand how “leveling up” is supposed to work.

      This really is a great game/toy/virtual pet – the “avoid” assessment is completely without merit, and should be retracted, as it appears to be based on an incorrect understanding of game mechanics.

  7. Leopold

    11/25/2013 at 2:22 am

    Indeed, there is some sort of pressure to throw in some cash in order to progress faster, but if you’re patient as a ninja you can still do it without spending real money. It gets harder and harder, but there are other games out there which are not as good as Clumsy Ninja who have even more aggressive IAP mechanics.

  8. Not an Idiot

    11/25/2013 at 2:56 am

    Looks like anybody can become an app reviewer. This article is stupid and so is its writer.

    • Nick

      11/25/2013 at 8:26 am

      The guy made a mistake, no need to go troll on him.

      • Daniel

        11/25/2013 at 1:29 pm

        he’s putting his opinion out there making himself look like a professional. He has to live with people criticising the poor quality of his work, in this case, research. Especially when the “Don’t play” recommendation is solely based on this mistake. Edit the article, and apologize to the developers.

        • Nick

          11/26/2013 at 8:15 am

          Yes, I’ll acknowledge he made a mistake, but that has been pointed out, he’ll probably lose a job considering how long it’s been without an edit.

          But your not criticizing his work, you went straight for an insult, not constructive criticism.

  9. chrisy

    11/25/2013 at 4:17 am

    my classmate’s mother makes $67/hour on the internet. She has been laid off for 6 months but last month her check was $16217 just working on the internet for a few hours. have a peek at this site……..

    • Arthur Braincell

      12/05/2013 at 10:42 am

      Is she a prostitute?

  10. James

    11/30/2013 at 12:06 pm

    I have no idea how the editor managed fo need to spend and gems to advance. I am level 24 i. This game and have 14 gems. I would have more, but I decided to accessorize my ninja which was unnecessary to advance in this game. I think the editor may have issues with waiting for cool downs and used all their gems. Impatient editor trying to finish the game in one sitting…. Failure.

  11. Curt Crusher

    03/05/2014 at 11:25 am

    I wouldn’t even necessarily call this a game. More of a “simulation”. Its based of the same system that Natural motion integrates in a few big time video games such as GTA 5 and Max Payne 3. If you want to know more about the game, you can find some other info at this Clumsy Ninja Review

  12. Anh

    01/06/2015 at 1:16 pm


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