Ninja Usagimaru: The Mysterious Karakuri Castle by Aksys Games is a direct sequel to ‘The Gem of Blessings’, a 2D block puzzle game that first appeared on Nintendo 3DS in June of 2015. As the game’s bunny-eared protagonist Usagimaru, the player must solve difficult puzzles, avoid dangerous traps, and use special skills to save a group of villagers that were captured by evil monsters.
Like its predecessor, Ninja Usagimaru: The Mysterious Karakuri Castle is a simple, but difficult game that leaves little margin for error. Each room contains a puzzle that must be completed in a specific way, and deviating from that formula will trap the player. When this happens, the level must be restarted from the beginning.
In most cases, the game’s puzzles require the player to push or stack blocks, while others expect the player to ‘think outside the box’ (no pun intended) by either using Usagimaru’s dagger, umbrella or grappling hook. For example: in some instances, the player must use the dagger to destroy certain blocks that prevent movement.
There are some levels that contain blocks that are wedged underneath platforms, making it impossible to pick them up. By pressing R button, the player can activate the ‘grappling hook’ to grab these blocks. Depending on the puzzle in question, this process may have to be repeated multiple times. When all else fails, the player can use Usagimaru’s parachute ability on air vents to ‘glide’ to different sections of the level.
Once a villager is freed from captivity, the player is left with the daunting task of leading the NPC-controlled character to the exit, which resembles a stone statue. But like the puzzles themselves, one wrong move can easily end the game. To avoid this issue, the player can temporarily save their progress by dropping a ‘pinwheel’ on the ground. Any progress that’s made after dropping the pinwheel will not be saved, so it’s a skill that should be used very sparingly.
On the surface, Ninja Usagimaru: The Mysterious Karakuri Castle is a simple puzzle game with slightly improved graphics over its predecessor. What lies underneath, though, is a series of nail-biting challenges that only seasoned puzzle gamers can complete without losing their composure. The faint of heart need not apply.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Aksys Games
Publisher: Aksys Games
ESRB: E (Everyone)
Aksys Games’ Official Website: http://www.aksysgames.com/
|Beautiful 2D sprites and backgrounds|
|Great sound effects and music round out the experience.|
|Challenging puzzles that make the player think outside the box (no pun intended).|
|Ninja Usagimaru: The Mysterious Karakuri Castle is a simple, but fun puzzle game with slightly improved graphics over its predecessor.|