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When it's all said and done, Lightweight Ninja is a solid effort by Stardock, one of the premier indie developers of the industry. The online functionality with Lightweight Ninja allows you to upload your times and scores to Dregin.net to compete with other players, and the gameplay is smooth as silk, with the exception of one fault. Overall, is the game fun? You bet. For the price that Stardock is asking for ($49.95 for all of their current and future games), you really can't find a better deal anywhere else.
As a whole, Lightweight Ninja is indeed pretty lightweight. Admittedly sleek graphically, and rich in style and premise, it's sloppy design flaws, limited play mechanics, and lack of substance bring it down considerably. Check out the free first chapter, and if playing through two more chapters of the same vein interests you then the first episode can be yours for only 20 bucks; however, I wouldn't rush into a purchase anytime soon unless you really, really need the platforming fix, in which case I'd still recommend staying away from good old monkey-foot-hand-boy.
I suppose the one good thing I can say about Lightweight Ninja is that it would be PERFECT for younger kids. Parents who are looking for a fun, charming, and colorful game with limited comic-violence can probably keep their kids mesmerized for hours with this game. Otherwise, Lightweight Ninja truly lives up to its namesake, lacking enough substance to give you incentive to finish the shareware version, let alone drawing you in to purchase the full game.
The title of this game is ironically accurate, as I have not encountered a platform side-scroller this lightweight in years. There is simply nothing to recommend, even to those who love this genre, as this release lacks both style and substance. In attempting to revive a somewhat neglected classic type of arcade action, the designers appear to have ignored all the advances which have emerged in the last decade, and instead have created a product that both offers nothing new and lacks the quaint appeal of its still enjoyable predecessors. For that reason I would suggest that those who love running and jumping look elsewhere for virtual frolic.
If Lightweight Ninja sounds like a game for very young children, it's because it is. You can see this in the game's completely nonviolent content, its simple, unchallenging gameplay, its cartoon characters, and its main character--a "cute" ninja with "attitude," reminiscent of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters that were so popular in the late '80s and '90s--but without the ninja turtles or the '80s and '90s. Lightweight Ninja's appearance isn't the only outdated thing about the game--even though the genre's never been popular on the PC, independent developers have been making better, more interesting 2D platform-action games for the PC for years. As such, if you happen to be a very, very young child, and your parents are trying to distract you with a nonviolent game for short periods of time, you might actually enjoy Lightweight Ninja. Otherwise, you'll probably find Lightweight Ninja's simple, unchallenging gameplay pointless and its initial nine episodes too short.