1-bit Ninja Review

By , on June 24, 2011

1-bit Ninja
Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5


  • Challenging platforming; decent skill cap on collecting all 'big bits'.
  • Fun homage to a classic era; very lo-fi pixel art and chiptune soundtrack.
  • Infinite life and 'classic' modes; caters to casual and hardcore audiences alike.
  • Unlockable anaglyphic 3D mode.


  • Touchy physics; little momentum to ease players in - a moment's hesitation makes it easy to careen in to pits, enemies and traps alike.
  • No checkpoints; all progress lost on death (though thankfully big-bits can be collected separately via replays).


Do you pine for something harder than the average platformer? Do you hate predictable level design? Try 1-bit Ninja - it's an old-school flavor with a menacingly modern twist.

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Retro trappings in iOS games are no new phenomena, but when you take your inspiration from something as odd as Super Mario Land from the Gameboy you've certainly decided to take the road less traveled. 1-bit Ninja by Kode80 may look like this classic title, but mastering its secrets will require a trip in the third-dimension.

The graphics and soundtrack aren't the only thing to be given a lo-fi treatment as players can only 'move forward' and 'jump'. It's unusual for a skill based platformer to restrict your mobility, but there's a good reason for it. Lying just beyond the 2D plane you're viewing is a 3D world complete with passages and platforms otherwise hidden from view thanks to the normally flat perspective. Swiping the top of the screen will reveal these secrets, but you won't have a lot of time to mess around as some of the game's secrets are also time sensitive, requiring players to make tricky jumps off enemies at the right location.

There's a big assumption that players coming in to 1-bit Ninja are already familiar with the usual platforming tropes (for instance, you're never told to hold jump to bounce higher off enemies) and this can be frustrating, especially when you're thrown to the beginning of the level on each death. With that said, collecting the all important, hidden large-bits is worthwhile as they unlock additional features including a 3D Anaglyph mode for those who happen to have a spare set of colored-gel glasses lying around.

It's the restrictions that make 1-bit Ninja so compelling; forcing a single direction requires players to learn a level's secrets before attempting to collect them and even then you'll need to develop some keen timing to get the perfect run. Even if you're not a completionist, watching a coin slip by is bound to tear at you, bringing you back for more.

If you owned Super Mario Land or you like your platformers to be a bit more challenging, you'll get a kick out of 1-bit Ninja.


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