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Kunai proves anyone can be a ninja, even an iPad

I am a simple creature, easily amused by flashing lights and bleepy noises, so I’m always up for a good metroidvania. Bonus points if it has some clever-looking movement tricks, bouncy mid-air combat and it’s just icing on the cake if there’s a grappling hook, too. Kunai, from TurtleBlaze, looks like it ticks each and every one of those boxes, plus the hidden bonus one of having a fun setting. A post-apocalyptic, post-human world populated by weird robots made out of junk. Protagonist Tabby may have the soul of a warrior, but he has the face of an iPad. Take a peek at the debut trailer below.

Kunai’s ninja antics – especially its mid-air attacks being used to keep the player airborne – reminds me a lot of The Messenger. Still, it feels like there’s a little more to its combat, at least from the few bits we see here. The slow-motion chain attacks you can do in mid-air, chaining back and forth through targets reminds me of Shinobi on the PS2, and the aggressive, rapid parrying of bullets (with accompanying screen shake) looks satisfying. Even before you get into the rapid-fire twin grappling hooks, it fills in a lot of my checklist for ‘things a good ninja game needs’.

I feel like the past couple years have been amazing for the metroidvania genre in particular, and developers have learned so much from each other in a short amount of time. Every other week you blink and there’s a new Hollow Knight or Ori And The Blind Forest teaching players about world design or movement techniques outside of 16-bit staples. There’s a whole slew of neat ninja games either just recently released (there’s free DLC coming for The Messenger, too) and upcoming (check out Bushiden and Moonrider). As a big late 80s/early 90s dork kid who never grew up, this feels a bit like a golden age. Go ninjas, go ninjas, go!

There’s no release date yet for Kunai, but publisher The Arcade Crew will be showcasing it at GDC next week, and at PAX East the week after. You can find more detail on its Steam store page here and its official page here.

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Dominic Tarason

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