Have you ever wanted to kill pirate monkey zombies as a ninja? Draw Slasher lets you do just that, slashing and dashing through various enemies across the screen using the touch screen. The game was originally released in 2009 as Draw Slasher: Dark Ninja vs Pirate Monkey Zombies on iOS, and since the iPhone lacks buttons it was a perfect fit for the mobile platform. Flash forward to 2013 when Draw Slasher releases on the Vita in a fashion that works quite well while again, not using any of the buttons at all.
Young Hanzo, a ninja apprentice, is the protagonist of the story mode. He is coming back from his ninja training when he is ambushed by Pirate Monkey Zombies. Here, and throughout the campaign you'll get some short cutscenes with the game's signature art style and it feels refreshing. It also helps to set the mood for the gameplay. It's not going to dazzle you in any way though.
At times you'll hear some dialog from Hazo and although his lines are a bit cheesy it still doesn't discourage you from enjoying the game. You'll find that the voice of his Sensei embodies the voice of wisdom perfectly in this case.
The entire game is split up into chapters with levels that get increasingly difficult as you go along. Levels are set on a single screen, but players can move left and right across the screen without being confined to the area of the screen. To play, you swipe your finger across the screen defeating the enemies that randomly spawn, as well as dashing to avoid them. The touch controls can be a bit challenging to make use of when trying to jump through the air effectively.
You may sometimes find yourself swiping away at the screen wildly because the motion used to jump is almost the same as the motion you need to perform to attack an enemy. Still, this is only a minor nuisance, as you will soon get used to the controls. Upgrades help a lot too.
Hanzo can also use Ninjutsu special attacks such as Earth Jutsu, which has the power to stun all walking zombies on screen. Below your heath and stamina is an icon called the Ki Energy gauge. This gradually becomes blue as it charges up, something can become far more expediant through racking up a long slashing combo or defeating tons of zombies at once. Once it glows you can press the gauge and select from any of the Ninjutsu you have already unlocked. Finishing a chapter rewards you with a brand new Ninjutsu, which is nice.
Upgrading your Ninjutsu, stamina, and health can done by leveling up and gaining skill points. Entering the Dojo from the pause menu lets players upgrade each one. As you upgrade your stamina, the easier it becomes to slash and improving a Ninjutsu skill increases its duration or damage.
Pirate Monkey Zombies come in many different varieties and this aspect is definitely one of the strong points that make this game challenging. There's the Chief whom has a large belly that protects him from all incoming attacks from his front, as well as bouncing Hanzo back. There are also enemies that come out wearing armor on almost every inch of their bodies, making normal attack useless. You have to look for an opening or use your Ninjutsu abilities to stun them. The game teaches you when to use each of these abilities.
When it comes to the boss fights the challenge does not let up. You not only have to kill the enemy , but in some cases you need to dash for your life to avoid obstacles such as tentacles or blasts from a flamethrower. Skilled dashes are needed to survive without being killed mercilessly. Each boss provides a different learning curve for the player to hurdle over and the satisfaction of winning feels extremely rewarding.
Aside from the story mode, there are also the Challenge and Arcade modes. Challenge mode tasks you with completing 24 challenges, each with a three different objectives to pass within a time limit. Arcade mode is unlocked after finishing a considerable amount of the story mode. It contains Gatekeeper, loosely based off of tower defense games, but without the tower and Survival.
Draw Slasher is an enjoyable and challenging game that features a solid implementation of touch-based gameplay. The story mode continues to stay fast paced and fresh throughout and although it's a port from an iOS game, in many ways it sure doesn't feel like one. However, in plenty of others it certainly does.
|Challenging story mode with unique bosses|
|Refreshing visuals and animation|
|Decent replay value|
|Hanzo's cheesy dialog|
|Touch Screen controls for jumping are a bit difficult to master a first|
|Should have been further expanded from its mobile counterparts.|