Panda-ing To The Masses: Mini Ninjas Demo

The Mini Ninjas demo is out, and it’s here. This is the surprise move for what the Hitman team did next and, yes, it’s showing off at least a fragment of their creativity and invention. Your download today will be 778mb. My impressions and the two (possibly one, with new player bugs) new trailers below.

So, a painfully cute 3D adventure from Io Interactive. It’s cartoony, silly, and almost too plain and simplistic, yes. Or is it? The first bits are true, but the demo suggests there might be more depth than is immediately apparently. Within minutes you’re possessing wild animals for sneak attacks, or hiding in the long grass to simply circumvent enemies, stunning people, casting spells, performing time-freezing power attacks and using your rice-hat as a boat.

Yes, first impressions were that the game was going to be painfully straightforward, but neat little touches keep spilling out: rock-paper-spear combat escalation, things to collect, reasons to explore. It doesn’t get overly complex during the demo itself, but you can see where opportunities are going to arise for this to be rather interesting: there’s an inventory to be filled with ninja equipment, and a spell-book to be filled with tricks, fireballs and cantrips. While there are three ninjas in the demo itself, there’s also some blank slots for dudes who are to appear later. If Io are smart about this we could have a solid and entertaining action game on our hands.

If I was to criticise on this brief sample, I’d say that the different characters weren’t sprung into the demo all that gracefully, but I like what I’ve seen of their implementation. In a Trine/Lost Vikings way, the various ninjas are tools that will be good for different tasks, and that’s going to allow some decent puzzle solving over the rather easy baddy-bashing. And it is, so far, remarkably easy. Follow the cues, and you can’t help winning. Of course, this is just a tutorial, so there’s every reason to expect Mini Ninjas to mature into something better. It’s certainly got the charm and technical execution right on. I’ve got reasonable hopes for this turning out okay, if just, y’know, for kids…

Observe these further glimpse of the game:

EDIT: These should be different videos. Not sure why the same one is displaying. Leaving it live for tech chaps to have a look.

Problems viewing the video? Please let us know. It’s new, and it needs tweakage.


  1. vasagi says:

    same trailers jim

    this looks like fun and could be good to drop into when i have a spare half hour going.

    unlike super hard ninja gaiden on the origonal xbox

  2. Jonas says:

    First video works fine, but the second is just a black rectangle for me.

    It’s great to hear that Mini Ninjas is shaping up to be a solid game, we do have a pretty decent tradition for quality children’s entertainment in Denmark (if you’ll allow the generalisation). I look forward to picking this one up for my inner 8-year-old.

  3. Jim Rossignol says:

    Hmm, looks like we’re having trouble displaying two trailers in one post. I shall look into it.

  4. Jonas says:

    I’m using Internet Explorer 8 if it helps (don’t judge me, I’m at work, and this machine doesn’t have any other browser).

    On a side note your design is completely screwed up in IE8, but I guess one problem at a time, yeah? Is this something you’re already aware of though, or would you like me to mail you a proper error report?

  5. Jim Rossignol says:

    I thought we’d fixed the IE8 problem, actually. Let me know what you see.

  6. Sly_Boots says:

    Using Firefox… videos were different and both worked when I tried them, now they appear to be the same.

    Game looks like fun.

  7. pkt-zer0 says:

    Yay pandas. ^__^

  8. Nutterguy says:

    Run RPS in compatibility mode with IE8.
    Web people: there is a meta tag you can add to the RPS website header which will force IE8 to use compatibility mode.

    I’m using firefox and the videos on this page display but only after I click play then switch to HD then click back at the start.

    Some other videos on the site worked fine first time…

  9. Psychopomp says:

    Game looks good, but when are we going to see Hitman again? ;_;

  10. Nutterguy says:

    Different videos now. Yea.

  11. vash47 says:

    If it’s by IO Interactive, even if it’s a dog turd I’m sure I’ll love it. I have yet to dislike ANY of their games, in fact they’re my favorite.

  12. Sly_Boots says:

    Trailers are the same again…

  13. Lars Westergren says:

    This sounds really promising!

    Fond memories of Last Ninja on my C64. I once considered those graphics jaw-dropping.

  14. Rosti says:

    They be different to me right now (weren’t a few minutes back, mind). Despite the teething problems, I quite like that player you’ve got going thar’, Hivemind.

  15. Jake R. says:

    FF3 displaying the same trailer (with different titles) twice.

  16. Jake R. says:

    Now same title (Trailer 2) for both.

  17. Lewis says:

    I found it to be absolutely lovely, and not in a “lovely if you’re ten years old” sense. It actually snapped me back into a fabulous, childlike mindset. It’s whimsical, exciting, and utterly, utterly charming. Considering it’s basically the training level, I now have astonishingly high hopes for this.

    My only real concern was with the camera, which was often unhelpful and seemed designed for analogue stick control. But no real worries. I enjoyed this a heck of a lot.

  18. Howard says:

    Sat writing away on my netbook at the moment so I can’t try out the demo. What is the control mechanism for it? Is it supposed to be played with a pad (so like, I dunno, Ratchet and Clank) or is it a 3rd Person Shooter style control (like Tomb Raider)?

  19. Lewis says:

    I found it to be fine with mouse and keyboard. Haven’t tried it with the 360 pad yet, though I imagine it’d be fine.

  20. Warduke says:

    I’m using IE8 and all I see is a black box for the 2nd one. Also as I believe a previous poster mentioned the formatting on this site has always been wonky for me. The sidebar with the ads, opinion away, forum updates is always pushing the first post way down on the page. Periodically the formatting is right but 90% of the time that’s how it looks to me on multiple computers.

  21. Clovus says:

    People are aplogizing for using IE8? I’m stuck using IE6! The whole site is a bit wonky and the boxes for the videos (which I couldn’t watch anyway) don’t even appear. Of course, no one should make their site compatable with IE6. We are actually told that this is for “security reasons”, ha!

    Anyway, this looks cool. This type of game often ends up stuck on consoles with no PC port.

    Also, I keep mixing up caltrops and cantrips. I would be a lame ninja.

  22. DarkNoghri says:

    I get the same trailer in both boxes. However, both work. Firefox 3.5.2 here.

    I want a mult-purpose hat/boat/sled. It’s be so useful.

  23. torchedEARTH says:

    First time I got two black boxes. Second time I got the same trailer twice and third time’s a charm!

    PS3 demo out on the 20th – yippee!

  24. Sam says:

    Yeah, two black boxes for me. FF 3.5.2.

    I haven’t tried the demo yet, but this appeals mightily to me.

  25. Berzee says:

    This had been off my radar…and now, it is the first time I have been tremendously excited about a game in, oh, a long while!

    It looks good. =)

  26. Frye says:

    Just WOW! This is something else! I like the graphics + voice-acting. I like how i can ignore npc’s and go for a swim and be rewarded with an item instead of an invisible wall Plays fine with 360 pad. Now if they make it hard enough so that you MUST use your abilities, this could be my game of the year. I mean, not much competition lately is there?

  27. MrBejeebus says:

    Its suprisingly fun, i may get it if only to make sure IO make another hitman :)

  28. windlab says:

    Gameplay looks interesting, love the hat mechanic.

    Both videos have same titles and content, Google Chrome.

  29. Shadrach says:

    I’m getting this once its out on Steam.
    Both vids are the same here, Opera 10beta3. I’d say its something with javascript and global variables, so the second file_id is the one used overwriting the first? Just a guess.

  30. Sly_Boots says:

    The demo is like a midget on a skateboard. Fun but short.

    Didn’t use the flute-carrying ninjaette, though. What’s her specialty supposed to be?

  31. Serondal says:

    The Panda-ing pun gave me a good chuckle, thanks.

  32. Metal_Circus says:

    What a delightful video game. Honestly, how refreshing is it to play something that’s -genuinley- nice?

  33. Berzee says:

    You realize of course that you can go to the minininjas website and watch all the trailers…? The first one that was supposed to be up was the Shumi character trailer. It was fun. ^_^

  34. Radiant says:

    Ninja Gaiden 1 on the Xbox was not hard!
    You just had to not treat it like a button basher; the combat on that was deep as hell.
    It was also one of the best games I’ve ever played.

    Ninja Gaiden 2 on the 360 on the other hand was complete gash.

  35. ourdreamsoffreedom says:

    The demo was very fun. Looking forward to the full game.

  36. Okami says:

    This game is absolutely charming. More games should try to be like Mini Ninjas.

  37. Taillefer says:

    For all of your videos (not just this one) I get sound, but with a static image. Why would this be?

  38. Adventurous Putty says:

    Visual style reminds me of Wind Waker. This is only a good thing, I assure you.

    Looks delightful. Is the full game PC-exclusive, or will it grace consoles, as well?

  39. inanimotion says:

    I had a great time with the demo.

    Not sure Putty, but guessing by how you equip and select items it’s console friendly as well.

  40. pkt-zer0 says:

    After finishing the demo, the problem with it is the same as with Arkham Asylum: it’s only the tutorial. So the full game may be brilliant, or may end up being nothing more than “yay pandas ^__^”. Can’t really tell from the demo.

  41. Chris says:

    Oh awesome! For some reason I’d been presuming that this was a console only game; am pleased to be wrong.

  42. TheApologist says:

    Looks chubby. Yay :)

  43. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Loved it. Cute and violent and it does one of my favourite things in games – it lets you explore a bit and find hidden things.


  44. neems says:

    As a side note, given all the Panda love on this thread, I highly recommend the ‘Kung Fu Panda’ movie tie-in game. Reminiscent of DMC, only more fun (and more realistic, oddly enough). You’d definitely want a controller though.

  45. Urthman says:

    Warning to whichever of you blokes has the OCD thing about somersaulting everywhere – you can do that in Mini Ninjas, limited by a (generous) stamina bar.

  46. matte_k says:

    Sold. I can see this game taking up a lot of my time, trying to collect all the hidden stuff on a level (couldn’t find all the plants in the demo though!) Nice to see IO doing something different before bundling Hitman 5 out of the door.

    On a side note, that’s one of the cleanest and most visually pleasing websites for a game i’ve seen for a while :)