Ninja Usagimaru - The Mysterious Karakuri Castle - Nintendo 3DS Review

ninja-usagimaru-the-mysterious-karakuri-castle-game-capture-image-1

  • Game Info: (Box Display)
  • System: Nintendo 3DS
  • Publisher: Aksys Games
  • Developer: Aksys Games
  • Release Date: September 29, 2016

Who it caters to

Ninja Usagimaru - The Mysterious Karakuri Castle is the sequel to Ninja Usagimaru - The Gem of Blessings. In this game, much like its predecessor, Usagimaru must use his ninja skills to save the villagers from the clutches of monsters. With over 60 puzzles to exercise your mind, you will play as Usagimaru to rescue the villagers who have been captured by the various oni and mythical creatures!

If you are a fan of the original Ninja Usagimaru - The Gem of Blessings, you will enjoy this new addition to the series. You will have similar tools in your arsenal to help you in your quest. The idea is the same. However, despite all these similarities, the puzzles are all different and will challenge you in many new ways!

What to expect

ninja-usagimaru-the-mysterious-karakuri-castle-game-capture-image-2
Compared to the original game, The Mysterious Karakuri Castle seems to have some more challenging puzzles for the player and doesn’t seem quite as straightforward when it comes to figuring out the solution. During some rounds, you’ll be surprised by how easy it was to solve the puzzle while other rounds will leave you frustrated because there seems to be no solution in sight. Actually, in some rounds, you’ll have to get really creative. I was very surprised when in one level, I had to figure out a way to use a stone to help me save a villager and get her to the rabbit statue, but it was the same stone that I had previously used to squash the yuki onna!

Also, unlike the first game, the oni are much more creative as the game develops used actual oni and monsters from Japanese folklore in the game compared to the black creatures that were used in The Gem of Blessings. This adds a bit of fanservice for fans of Japanese folklore and visual appeal for the gamer themselves.

Ninja Usagimaru - The Mysterious Karakuri Castle has a total of 20 trophies for you to collect. At the start of the game, you know what the trophies are, but only a few of them actually detail what you must do to obtain them. There is one trophy, Evil Justice, which was entertaining to obtain as you must squash the enemy 10 times during the gameplay, which just involves you picking up the stone, waiting for them to start respawning and then squish them again. There are other trophies that are as entertaining to obtain. Try leaving your villagers tied up for a while or let them get hurt a few times during your gameplay and see what trophies you obtain!

Story

ninja-usagimaru-the-mysterious-karakuri-castle-game-capture-image-3
The overall goal of The Mysterious Karakuri Castle involves saving villagers. The more villagers you save, the more likely you’ll be to obtain certain items to help you on your quest. However, it is evident very early on that the plot isn’t very strong in this game. Actually, you won’t even give it much thought because the main component of Ninja Usagimaru - The Mysterious Karakuri Castle involves solving the puzzles. So, if you are looking for a plot-driven story, you may want to look elsewhere.

The main character is Usagimaru, the ninja, who is working to save the villagers. He is being instructed by the rabbit Toyoukehime who gives you hints about what to do on the bottom screen, although the hints are few and far between.

The villagers may change from time to time, but are all fairly similar that you won’t take note of them often. They rarely talk to you, but they will follow you to safety. Unfortunately, they get scared very easily so if you run into an area near an oni (who may or may not even touch them), the villagers cower and sink down in fear, so it is up to you to make sure they follow you to the safety that is the rabbit statue!

Gameplay

ninja-usagimaru-the-mysterious-karakuri-castle-game-capture-image-4
Ninja Usagimaru - The Mysterious Karakuri Castle is more of a mini-game than anything else. You will spend all of your time honing your ninja skills to save the villagers. You will need to know how to use your kunai, the air currents to fly, your chain, and the pinwheel to complete the job. The tutorial at the beginning of the game must be completed before you move on, but it gives a very basic idea of how to use all of your tools. Once you start the real levels, you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than you first thought.

The graphics of the game are very simple and similar to the first game. It is very fun that they included creatures from Japanese folklore with a cute chibi design that many anime fans and fans of cute things can enjoy! The music provided will also remind you of any anime that has allusions to the era of ninjas in Japan, which may be nostalgic for some and fun for others.

One flaw in Ninja Usagimaru - The Mysterious Karakuri Castle is its failure to use any of the features of the Nintendo 3DS. Yes, it uses the dual screens, but only kind of. The bottom screen is only utilized to give you a hint of what you should do like: “You have to squish the snowman to get to the totem piece”. That’s really helpful, right? Then there’s the 3D part of the 3DS. It’s just not used at all. While I didn’t go around playing with my 3D screen on at all times, when I did have it on, I absolutely did not notice anything different. It’s very easy to just have the 3D feature on and forget, ultimately killing your battery, because the game doesn’t use those features, although we suppose that is understandable in a game that costs you $5.99.

The difficulty of the game can be frustrating for those who are or are not good with puzzles. Sometimes the solutions are not as straightforward as you’d like and sometimes, you’ll be surprised that you got the solution in less than a minute. As the game progressed, it didn’t seem to get more difficult. Rather, you are given a new area with puzzles to conquer, but the difficulty depends on how you look at the puzzles. Luckily, you can just move onto another puzzle in the same region and then go back if it frustrates you enough. It is also really irritating that your kunai cannot do things like kill monsters. Why is a kunai even used to break rocks?!

Once you finish the main part of the game, new puzzles open up to test your skills even more! You’ll find that you will spend a great portion of time trying to figure out the game no matter how frustrated you are!

Honey's Gameplay Consensus

Depending on what you are looking for in the game, this may be the type of game for you. As a fan of puzzle games, I found the puzzles to be moderately fun yet frustrating as some puzzles took ages to do while others didn’t take any time at all. Unfortunately, as a video game, it does not really engage the gamer much so you may find that Ninja Usagimaru - The Mysterious Karakuri Castle does not grip you as another game might. While you may have a moderate sense of accomplishment upon rescuing a villager, the rewards feel very few and far between, and the excitement lacking since the villagers do not react much and you are only forced to move onto the next round. However, the cuteness of the game characters and the pretty designs are visually appealing for many anime fans. This makes this puzzle game a little more fun to play even if the lack of plot may disengage you. Even with a lack of plot, it could take you days or even weeks (depending on your level and spare time) to solve all the puzzles!

Honey's Pros:

  • Challenging: The puzzles themselves require a great deal of thought to get through
  • The inclusion of monsters from Japanese folklore
  • The chibi character designs
  • Nostalgic “ninja” period music
  • Hours of gameplay and numerous puzzles
  • Unlock puzzles at the end of the game
  • A good number of trophies to attain

Honey's Cons:

  • Lack of Plotline
  • Does not utilize the important features of the 3DS (or DS for that matter)
  • Strange use for the kunai
  • No real incentive to save a villager, nor any character interaction
  • The villagers inability to do the things you can can be irritating

Honey's Final Verdict:

As a puzzle game, Ninja Usagimaru - The Mysterious Karakuri Castle will definitely challenge you and provide you with a lot of mental stimulation, however, do not expect a strong plot line to keep you engaged. This game is just for casual gameplay. And for the price of $5.99, it’s a great deal. You may find it’s one of those games you can just pick up for fun when you’re at the doctor’s office or jury duty to kill time. Ninja Usagimaru - The Mysterious Karakuri Castle won’t replace any game in my game collection by a longshot, but it is a fun addition and will provide plenty of mental exercise for some time to come.
Jenangelx3

Editor

Author: Jenangelx3

California based workaholic. Current mottos are “I don’t care” and “I’ll try almost anything once”. Interests include traveling, eating, video games, and weightlifting. Currently living life to the fullest, pursuing my happiness, and conquering my fears. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

Previous Articles

Top 5 Anime by Jenangelx3