Published on August 24th, 2011 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor
Parasitus: Ninja Zero Xbox Indie Review
Platform: Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Indie Games)
Price: 240 MSP ($3)
Developer: H.A.M. Games
Much like old classic side-scrollers for early consoles as far back as NES, Parasitus: Ninja Zero takes place in the year 21XX (similar to another Xbox Indie favorite of mine). The details of the actual story are a bit hard to discern, perhaps that is on purpose as many times the opening sequences of older games are quite questionable and mysterious. From what I can glean from the opening cinematic is that evil monsters have plagued the world for centuries, and it is up to our hero to destroy them.
To adequately eliminate the threat that the devastating monsters pose for humankind, our hero–the brave and skilled ninja warrior–travels back in time to the dawn of the 20th century to thwart mankind’s evil adversaries.
Gamers who love hack-and-slash side-scrolling action are sure to enjoy Parasitus. This Xbox Indie not only has action and adventure elements but is also quite challenging with a variety of enemies and bosses to defeat, each of which get progressively more difficult as the players move on. The game mechanics are quite well balanced as players can simply button-mash on the easier settings, yet on the harder difficulties players must use skill to defeat the bloodthirsty monsters.
Players can utilize a wide variety of tactics to slice and dice enemies in this enjoyable Indie platformer, most of which include making use of blocking with the hero’s sword by holding ‘RT’. Be careful, though, because each successful block fills up the blue bar, and once full, the parry will break and our hero will take damage. Luckily the bar itself will slowly drain and fills much quicker when players block chains of attacks. For example, our ninja hero will usually be able to block anywhere from three to five times before the parry is broken, depending on what enemy is attacking.
The other bar that players will want to pay attention to is the green EXP bar. This bar is a bit trickier, as it will fill when the ninja successfully slashes an enemy. To maximize the potential for gaining EXP, players will want to utilize strategy instead of just blindly and randomly hacking enemies. When our ninja hero gains a level he will learn a new Combo to use while in combat.
Combos are the key to survival and often make the difference between life and death in games of this genre. Players who are used to fighting games will have no problem memorizing the button sequences. The controls in Parasitus are quite straight forward: ‘X’ is the primary attack and ‘Y’ is the secondary attack. Combos make use of both of ‘X’ and ‘Y’ intermittently and can often unleash devastating waves of energy to cut through enemies. Players can review the currently available button combos at any time by navigating to the Moveset selection under the Controls/Help pane of the Main Menu.
Don’t be so quick to run through to the next screen after defeating enemies, as slain monsters will sometimes drop powerups or tasty food that replenishes a segment of the health bar. These powerups can vary in many ways but all aid the player in their struggle to defeat evil.
Be sure to pay attention and look out for small icons or items dropped from defeated foes, especially if there’s a large group of monsters. Often the death animation–which is quite gory and bloody–can somewhat hide these powerups so it’s best to keep an eye out. Many times food and other powerups will be dropped by the mini-bosses that are peppered throughout the levels.
Another interesting feature seen in Parasitus: Ninja Zero is the use of multiple screens to give a sense of progression. In most every side-scroller, both new and old, the levels are made up of multiple screens that are navigated horizontally–and sometimes vertically through wall-jumps.
This is true for the old Castlevania titles where players can cross back and forth between panes to fight constantly respawning monsters to earn EXP and other items. In this Xbox Indie there are a variety of main levels that are distinguished with different background layers, each of which designating a new area within the game.
Another quite interesting feature in this Xbox Live Indie title is that it plays like a true arcade game, with fluidity and grace to the character’s movements that isn’t always seen in XBLIG releases. While slashing enemies and vaulting off of walls in Parasitus: Ninja Zero, players feel as if they’ve been transported to the classic days of gaming where Castlevania games were the king of side-scrolling hack-and-slash platformers. The ninja hero truly feels as if he’s a skilled warrior with honed reflexes as he slices his way through legions of horrendous zombies and demons, giving players the sense that they’re in an epic struggle for survival.
Final Truth: This Xbox Indie title has something for everyone: 2-D platformer fans will love the gracefulness of our hero as slides on walls and leaps across lethal spikes, gamers who love side-scrolling action games will enjoy slicing up waves of oncoming evil monstrosities, and fans of classic gaming will enjoy the overall charming bit-style graphics that efficiently emulate the types of games many players grew up with.
Parasitus: Ninja Zero is truly a blast from the past that incorporates many aspects that gamers have enjoyed through the ages, and successfully breathes life into an underpopulated genre on the Xbox Indie Marketplace. Hopefully we’ll see more titles like this from H.A.M. Games or other XBLIG developers!
For more information on Heart Attack Machine (H.A.M. Games) and Parasitus: Ninja Zero please visit the studio’s official website.
+ Awesome Castlevania-style action
+ Fast-paced hack-and-slash side-scroller
+ Classic bit-style graphics
+ Combo attacks to slice and dice enemies
+ High replay value
– Wall jumps are a bit difficult