The Beaten Diaries #9: Ninjas!

MAY ISSUE: POST #10

Next up on my Beaten Diaries list is the game Mini Ninjas. If you like cute little ninjas scuttling around, then this is the game for you.

Developed by IO Interactive and released in 2009, this game essentially makes ninja-ing really fun (as if it wasn’t already), and surprisingly, it’s not full of blood flying and sharp swords swinging all over the place. Sure, there are swords, but every time your character kills an enemy, you just want to pat them on the head and tell them ‘good job! You’re becoming quite the ninja, young one.’ So yeah, the game is pretty family-friendly. Did I also mention that you can use a hat as a boat? Did I not say that yet? Then, yeah, that’s the best part of the game.

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Yes, that’s the legendary hat.

The game features six playable characters, each with their own abilities and weapons, and you can collect these weapons but also scrolls, ingredients, and potions throughout the game. The main character is called Hiro, and you have to save your other ninja friends throughout the game (and be the hero. Ha ha, get it?) Once you save your other ninja friends, you can switch between them and use them in combat if you so wish. It’s always satisfying to switch to the bigger ninja and use his giant hammer to smash your targets.

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The enemies in the game are actually animals which have been enchanted by a curse, and you have to defeat them in order for them to return to their normal selves again (which in real life, I don’t think would make the situation that much safer. I mean, bears are included in this). Come to think of it, it seems pretty mean that you have to practically bash the evil out of the animals, but that’s what you have to do.

The game is really great though, and I love titles that aren’t too serious. I beat the game on hard difficulty (because I like taking risks) back in November 2016. It took me less than a week to beat, and actually, getting 100% trophy percentage is listed as Easy. So, if you want an easier Platinum, perhaps have a go at this title. Unless you get it on Steam of course.

But that’s the game, so now, let’s move onto the actual world of the ninja (imagine I’m doing jazz hands or something. I want this to seem spectacular).

Real Ninjas

So talking about ninjas and all, I thought maybe I’d delve into the history of them. Like, the really old and cool ones from ancient times. The fact that they even existed blows my mind. Of course, there are a lot of ninjas in the media, with films and whatnot (i.e. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), but there is evidence to show that they could’ve existed back in the 12th or 13th century.

Another word for a ninja, in Japan, is ‘shinobi’, and the role of these agents was mainly to sabotage and assassinate, however, they were deemed more dishonorable than a samurai, who had stricter rules and honour in what they were practicing. Specially trained agents- groups full of spies and mercenaries- appeared during the Sengoku period in the 15th century. They were hired and trained around and in the Iga Province, because of the remoteness of the area with all the lovely surrounding mountains.

It amazes me to think that all the way back in the 15th century, there was this secret hideout in the mountains in Japan where actual ninjas were training. Aside from all that annihilating though, spending some time in the peaceful mountains to gain some strength and sneaky skills doesn’t sound too bad.

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Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1842-1843 (Japanese woodblock prints are the best)

By the Meiji era, the ninjas were famous and popular (well, I’m not sure about popular. It’s not like they were a boy band or anything. Although, they could’ve been. I’m not one to judge). A lot of people thought the ninjas could control the elements, walk on water, turn invisible and do all this incredible stuff, when in fact, they were just people in suits being stealthy and not getting as much attention as the upper-class samurai. To be honest, it seems as though ninjas were free to work in the shadows and do whatever they so pleased.

Between 1485 and 1581 however, the ninjas from Iga and Koga were professionals, hired to carry out lots of dirty deeds, until well, they were all killed by Oda Nobunaga, a powerful feudal lord. So there’s that. The ninjas who managed to escape him became bodyguards and began to use guns instead, and I really don’t blame them. Some of them were brought together to form secret services or to join the secret police, still using their stealthy stealthiness to carry out their jobs. They would even dress up so that they would be undercover. It’s interesting to me that a priest walking down the street could actually be a full-fledged assassin.

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Utagawa Kuniyoshi again. 1843. IT’S SO COOL THOUGH.

Of course, I know I can’t finish this post without talking about the weapons. Everybody wants to know about the weapons, which have become incredibly popularised for some reason. I think people just like lethal objects. But anyway, some of the equipment is the cause for rumours that stated that ninjas had supernatural powers. The weapons they used could’ve been concealed under floorboards or in the toilet even. There were, of course, a lot of buildings with traps too (I’d hope not anywhere near the toilet though). Weapons and tools included ropes, grappling hooks (Gravity Falls anyone?), spikes, chisels, hammers, knives, katanas, shuriken and many, many, many more I’m sure. Where their wives put them all, I don’t know.

The world of the ninja is fascinating to me, and I actually really got into reading up on them this morning. But alas, I can’t provide you with yet another Wiki page, so I’ll leave it here. I hope you learned a lot about ninjas today, and good luck to you if you decide to become one.

Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

-LDG

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