As we know, licensed games are always a dodgy prospect. Alarm bells start to ring at the very mention of a ‘game-of-the-film,’ and we know they’re in immediate danger of rating high on the crapometer. For this egregious prejudice, I blame Superman 64 and its legacy of awful.

Oftentimes, the bigger a blockbuster the source material is, the less effort is put into the accompanying game. It’s going to be bought in droves anyway, so why not rush out something that a comatose chihuahua could make overnight?

Today, we’re taking a look at Ninjatown, a completely different kind of licensed prospect. This one is based on Shawnimals’ line of adorable plush toys, of all things, and makes for one of my favourite tower defense titles.

Ninjatown hit the DS in 2008, and is based on Shawnimals’ popular Wee Ninja character. The plot is the usual simple strategy fare: the town is under attack by the forces of Mr. Demon, a far-too-cute-yet-dastardly creature bent on world domination (think of him as a huggable Sauron). Whose job is it to lead the defense? Well, yours, that’s who.

Ninjatown 2

Fortunately, you aren’t short of warriors of your own. Each stage consists of a path the monsters will follow to the goal, with each that passes through sapping your HP by a point. Along the route, there are limited locations to place ninja huts, which are your towers.

Different huts produce a different kind of ninja, and you’ll have to adapt your strategy on the fly according to the foes you face. Crazy rollerskating demons, for instance, are handily dispatched by the Business Ninjas. These guys are very fast themselves, due to being hopped up on caffeine, and will smite your enemies with their mobile phones. Yep, this is an actual Ninjatown scenario.

All in all, this is a fairly conventional tower defense game at heart. You have ranged fighters, stronger close quarters fighters, and weaker projectile fighters that can slow enemies down. You can upgrade huts and sell them and such, and you can unleash one-off powers to turn the tables. It’ll all be familiar to genre fans.

What sets this one apart is the cheeky charm of its characters and writing. Fans of such things should definitely give Ninjatown a go.

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