Ninjala is the ‘we have food at home’ of the Splatoon world

GungHo Online
GungHo Online /

Our first impressions of a very rough launch for Ninjala.

Ninjala dropped on the Nintendo Switch yesterday. Since the release of the initial trailer, the gameplay has drawn comparisons to Splatoon 2, another popular Switch game.

Don’t be confused though; while Splatoon has squid kids, Ninjala has ninja kids. While Splatoon has sticky paint, Ninjala has sticky gum. See? It’s very different.

Unfortunately, I was unable to play the game on its actual launch day due to server maintenance. Oddly they still let you buy microtransactions. I know a disturbing amount of people who couldn’t get into the game and still ended up buying the story pass so I guess that weird plan worked for them.

Finally, at about 10:00 p.m., I was able to finally get online though the game first made me go through some exceptionally shady legal language that, long story short, essentially means they own everything that you do and also your name and likeness.

GungHo Online /

Eventually, I got in and was met with error message after error. The game kept crashing. Thirteen or fourteen times, I finally got to make my character — my VERY Splatoon looking character.

Then the game suspended itself and it automatically took me into YouTube where it had me watch a video on what features the game has. When I paused the game I laughed because all the videos YouTube suggested I watch were for other games, mostly Splatoon. Well played, YouTube.

GungHo Online /

Once I got through all the videos and the tutorials, the game crashed on me again. Once back in, I decided to try story mode.

Story mode was such a frustrating ordeal and my wife actually came in to check and see why I was swearing. You must pay to access story mode and it plays a lot like the single-player mode in Splatoon (shocking no one) except every couple of seconds the action stops and you are forced to sit through the slowest comic book style cut scenes I’ve ever seen.

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Even mashing on the A button did nothing to fix this. Fight three or four enemies, watch a three-minute cut scene. Hop on a box, watch a three-minute cut scene. Get to end, watch a three-minute cut scene. Fight a boss for one minute, watch a three-minute cut scene. And the story is awful. It’s borderline offensive ninja drivel where they imply ninja arts are derived from alien energy summoned from outer space. Real 90’s stuff.

Eventually, I gave up on the story mode and went to play online. It took about seven tries of sitting in lobbies before a game would connect and when I did, oof. Incredibly small arenas that look like they were taken from Mario Kart‘s Balloon Battles didn’t do anyone any favors, especially since the combat is now mostly melee and it’s eight people at once. You never have any idea of what’s going on.

Finally, I decided to test the online store since that was the one thing GungHo decided to get working. I bought a go at the Gatcha machine which gives you about six random prizes. Of those six, three of them were weapons of corn. Two were different shades of purple corn. One was corn that was also cookies. Great. The weapons in this game are straight up 5 Below purchases. I even encountered a Yo-yo that was also a Fidget Spinner. To quote John Oliver, “Cool”.

GungHo Online /

Ultimately I gave up on the game. I’m a parent with two kids. I live and breathe patience but while every playable aspect of this game is completely broken at launch, the one thing they have absolutely perfected is the online store where you can buy the in-game currency and that’s pretty telling. Save yourself microtransactions and frustration and get Splatoon because while Ninjala is “free-to-start” the therapy you’ll need will cost you a fortune.