1-bit Ninja by kode80 LLC icon

Kode80 LLC’s new game, 1-bit Ninja ($1.99), is a stylized 2D and 3D side-scrolling run-and-jump game for the iPhone.

You are a ninja, in 1-bit, might I add. The goal of the game is to get the ninja to the end of the level safely before the timer ends. This game is very reminiscent of the old Mario games, with the side-scrolling platforming action, running, jumping on enemies, and even the end of the level, with the flag.

The graphics in this game are beautiful and crisp, even though they’re technically only 1-bit. The colors are done well, and the menu options are smooth and look great.

1-bit Ninja by kode80 LLC screenshot

Game controls are very simple–touch the lower left side to run forward, and the lower right side to jump. The controls can be configured to be the opposite if you desire.

Yep, that’s right–there’s no way to move back. The controls only allow you to move forward, and in some levels there will be special springs that allow you to run in the opposite direction.

I found this to be particularly frustrating, but I guess that’s part of the charm of the game, and makes it unique. The best thing the lack of going back brings is difficulty. The game is not going to be a breeze, and controls will take a bit of getting used to, since you can’t go back.

There are four worlds with five levels in each. To unlock the other worlds, you’ll have to beat the previous levels.

As you play, you’ll notice that there are items to collect. Bits will be like coins, and collecting 100 of them will give you an extra life. In each level, there are five “Big Bits,” which will unlock Free-Look and 3D Mode if you find all of them. Super Potions are great, if you can make it far enough to find them, as they make you run faster, jump further, and invincible. Of course, there are the springs that I’ve mentioned earlier. These are useful for getting you out of tight spots.

There are bad guys that are just waiting to get their hands on our ninja! To defeat them, you’ll have to jump on them, just like Mario. If they touch you, then you lose a life.

During play, if you drag the screen on the upper half, you can turn it into a 3D camera angle. This is useful for revealing secrets on the level that you wouldn’t normally see in the 2D view.

Secrets involve stuff like seeing passageways that you can take as an alternative route, and others. I can’t tell you the other secrets, since I haven’t gotten very far.

1-bit Ninja by kode80 LLC screenshot

The game doesn’t just bring you back with retro graphics, but there are also genuine chip tunes as well! I found the music and sound effects very charming and catchy. The chip tunes are a great element of the game.

As you get further in the game, you’ll be able to unlock more camera modes. But this will be a challenge, considering the difficulty of the game (at least for me).

You can view your best times and even save replays for viewing later. There isn’t Game Center support for your high scores, but hopefully this comes in later. It would also be nice to see some achievements in the future.

I find 1-bit Ninja to be a great side-scrolling platformer game. The graphics may look deceptively simple, but this game will bring back those days of having a Game Boy. The chip tunes are just icing on the cake (no, this is not a lie).

I highly recommend this game if you are looking for a unique gaming experience that hits home with the retro feeling. It takes the familiar and adds a challenging twist, making it in a class all its own.

The developers already have new levels and features planned for future updates, so what are you waiting for? Go grab 1-bit Ninja today!