December 27, 2012 by solomonlutze
Control a would-be contestant for America’s Next Top Ninja who is thrown into a plot of international intrigue as he must track down what happened to his brother while thwarting the crime syndicate run by an individual known only as The Man. Do this using a fighting style called the Buddha Finger, which in practice means tapping, spinning, and swiping across the screen at little numbers that pop up on your enemies.
The gameplay is about using these techniques to defeat sets of thugs, ninjas, wizened old men, and chainsaw-toting crazies. The generic clumping of East Asian cultures and martial arts make the title a little uneasy at first, but it’s so clearly making fun of 80’s martial arts flicks that it doesn’t feel problematic (the story itself is a parody). While the characters and plot aren’t especially deep, they keep the game moving without dragging any gameplay.
The game is mostly static images, both in battle and in the narrative cut scenes; the most animation from the foes are pained expressions when the player successfully pulls off an attack. The art all feels a little rough around the edges. Though it is fun, and it won’t keep you from enjoying the title, it doesn’t add a whole lot to the experience. The same can be said for the music and the sound, which are mostly the incidental punching noises and high-pitched screams we’ve come to associate with low-budget kung fu movies. It fits, but you may not find yourself breaking out the headphones for it every time.
The controls get more complicated as the game progresses. See sets of numbers representing enemy weak points that appear on the screen, and then tap those numbers in the correct order to progress. Take too long, or tap numbers in the wrong order, and lose the fight. A number of foes pop up in each chapter, and there are plenty of chapters. It’s pretty easy at first, but it definitely brings on an unexpected level of challenge as the game requires more complicated button sequences. Be prepared for the just one more mentality. Before you know it, you have successfully blown through several chapters of the game.
Presentation: Art and sound are a little rough, but apart from not being the strongest selling point, they don’t hold the game back. The art is a bit rough around the edges.
Optimization: The gameplay and controls are well done, adding to the game’s entertainment.
Ingenuity: This game feels like it has a similar comic book style to games like Elite Beat Agents.
Sound: There’s not too much going on with the sound – it’s all fitting, but not varied enough to feel like an essential piece of the game.
Entertainment: It’s fast-paced and addictive, and there’s a lot of charm in the goofy characters and situations. There’s a fun, refined game to be played here.
The art for Buddha Finger might be the most underwhelming portion of the game, but it shouldn’t dissuade you from the experience. It is definitely worth the price of admission (less than a dollar), and I can’t overstate the quality of this sizable phone game. It has all the elements of a mobile success, and is a solid debut from a studio that’s more self-aware than most. Buddha Finger might not pack the biggest punch, but it certainly makes me anxious to take another swing at the next Lady Shotgun title (hopefully, in the near future).
GamerCheese Score: 3.5/5