- Machine: Nintendo
If you put the Karate Kid and Bruce Lee together in a Saturday morning martial-arts cartoon show, you'd probably end up with something like Little Ninja Brothers. This sprawling action-adventure takes a charming, lighthearted approach to its blend of questing and karate chopping.
What sets this game apart isn't its action or its adventure, but its humor - which is often accidental. The comical story is peppered with odd translations ("I am cheery") and silly dialogue ("I will change you into meatballs and eat you up").
Your adventure takes you on a very involved romp through an expansive, faraway place called Chinaland. The stars are twin ninja brothers, Jack and Ryu. To save the world from a dangerous and deranged dictator, they must recover the seven Bells of Prism. That means the twins must tour all of Chinaland's towns, talk to the villagers, and build up a large inventory of weapons and items.
Little Ninja Brothers plays much like the Zelda series, except there's more action. As you roam the countryside, you'll frequently cross paths with the dictator's henchmen. When you do, the game switches to a battle scene in which you have to knock out a certain number of enemies.
It's not only important to punch out your enemies, but also the blocks and rocks as well. Even though punching a rock with your fist doesn't sound healthy, try it anyway. You'll sometimes uncover a treasure box this way.
Some multiplayer adventure games allow only one player to explore at a time. That means your friend can do little more than cheer you on. Fortunately, Little Ninja Brothers allows two players to roam through Chinaland and fight at the same time.
In addition to the quest game, Little Ninja Brothers also offers a mini-Olympics competition. You can choose from six athletic events, some of which reappear in the regular game. This feature adds even more fun, and some of the events (especially the track meet) are good practice for the quest adventure.