HomeReviewsNintendoGAME REVIEW | "KUNAI" One Adorably Badass Ninja Adventure

GAME REVIEW | "KUNAI" One Adorably Badass Ninja Adventure

As the end credits rolled by, I took a deep breath and sighed. With hands aching, a smile crawled up my lips. And within my heart was a thumping rhythm of happiness. This is what it feels like to experience a game like KUNAI, the latest title from The Arcade Crew and TurtleBlaze.

A Metroidvania-styled side-scroller, KUNAI has you taking control of Tabby, a sentient tablet with the skills of a ninja. Humanity has seemingly been wiped out, as only a few renegade robots roam Earth to protect what’s left of it from an evil A.I. known as Lemonkus. As Tabby, it will be your job to take down the villain and its minions, with new worlds giving way to bigger discoveries. The more you uncover, the stronger the little tablet gets.

Players start out with the bare minimum katana, as Tabby traverses through the rundown lab in search of who it is. As more of a fight comes your way, players will start earning other weapons such as throwing stars, guns, and even a trusty rocket launcher. But the main tool of choice is, of course, the kunai, which will aid in reaching high places and evade traps and hazards. While Tabby attempts to take down Lemonkus, the more livelier his surroundings become.

One of the things that drew me in to KUNAI is its big massive worlds. While not grand in the more modern sense, its retro-styled visuals give way to some beautiful and dark realms where Tabby fights about. From giant airships and haunted factories to even a full-fledged robot utopia, these areas brim with great personality and classic gaming vibes. (I would highly suggest taking your time as you go through the Robopolis level, as the hidden areas and jokes are worth getting your belly sore with laughter over.)

Of course, what makes TurtleBlaze’s latest title enjoyable is its gameplay elements. Taking down robots that fly, shoot, sword-fight, explode, and even breathe fire never gets old, as you collect coin to upgrade your weaponry and seek the way towards the next needed item. Its boss battles shine with big challenges and old-school difficulty, and while some of the later ones may be frustrating for some, it nonetheless rewards its players with a great feeling of euphoria when the final blow is delivered. It also helps that the game has some of the smoothest controls you’ll find in any recent Metroidvania title.

Going from weapon to weapon is relatively easy in KUNAI, as you throw your stars, shoot bullets, or use your blade to make robots meet their maker. Playing with the Pro Controller, circling though weapons is a cinch, not to mention its layout being catered so as to not make an easy slip-up during an intense fight. Only once or twice did I find myself pressing the wrong button, causing an untimely end to a boss battle fight that resulted in me having to start from scratch. (And yes, those moments can be rather irksome, even if the fault is of my own.)

Another great thing about KUNAI is its learning curve. The game starts off relatively easy, letting players get used to their surroundings and controls. As the story continues, the difficulty starts to rise steadily, adding more challenges and hazards to the area to make it feel more difficult. Thankfully, what it doesn’t become is rage-quit levels of hard, with the mentality of this game being one that encouraging players to keep on trying, all with a Don Hertzfeldt-like smile on Tabby’s face.

While you play, Tabby collects coins that can be used to upgrade its weaponry. This can range from bungee chords on your kunai and a more sharpened blade to shotgun blasts and even an explosive foray coming out of one’s rocket launcher. Players can also seek out new covers for Tabby’s face, which don’t do anything strength-wise for the sentient tablet, but gosh it makes the little fella look all the more cute!

KUNAI will take you roughly ten hours to complete. Once you finish the game, players can return and attempt to find the rest of covers, upgrade all of the weaponry, and seek out any other hidden goodies and Easter Eggs that may be hidden throughout the worlds. Although the game may seem on the short side, it nevertheless gives its players plenty to witness and interact with all throughout its adventure.

PROS:

  • Fun ninja-inspired mechanics
  • Great control scheme
  • Delivers one big challenge after another

CONS:

  • Some boss battles can be somewhat frustrating

FINAL THOUGHTS:

KUNAI delivers one kill after another with ease and wonder. With its big worlds and fine choice of weaponry, TurtleBlaze gives players one hell of a ninja journey that they won’t forget. Not only does KUNAI already stand out as one of the best of 2020, but it also has the honor of being the first great game of the decade.

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FINAL GRADE:

Promotional consideration provided by Thomas Schulenberg of Tinsley PR. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.

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Contributing Editor at ESH since 2008, and host of the No Borders No Race podcast show, which began as a humble college radio program in 2006. My passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture is what drives me to give you my all in every article published and every podcast recorded.