Crash Course (ep. 7) – Mark of the Ninja

You must be one with the darkness. You must be as silent as a cat upon the fog. You must be as quick as a scorpion’s sting, and as deadly as its venom.

Also, you must do as I say, not as I do.

Because I buh-LOW at stealth games.


Follow-Up to “Crash Course (ep. 3) – No Time To Explain”

I just recently finished “No Time To Explain”, a game that I showcased on “Crash Course” ep. 3 that combined time travel and absurdity for the plot, and 2-D platforming and shooting for the gameplay.

For the most part it was an enjoyable, silly little game with fun platform-style puzzles and hilarious cut scenes and dialogue. Most of the stages were relatively simple and straightforward, allowing me to progress through the game fairly rapidly (I think I beat the entire game in just over two hours).

But then… every so often a stage would come along that would take me about 10 minutes to get through. A stage where I would have to aim and time everything perfectly to get to the end portal. A stage with tiny spiked crevasses to fling my character’s body through, or perhaps some odd timing mechanism that would kill my character if I didn’t get to the portal immediately.

These few stages were the ones that inspired full-fledged Rage-Quits to bubble up in my soul. Time and time again I would die and respawn and die again and feel my jaw unconsciously getting tighter and tighter as I surged forward again into spikey/burny/smashy/plummety death.

Fortunately this game does not give any down-time between respawns, so I was able to focus that frustration back into the stage that was the causing it. If I had to wait at a loading screen or watch some sort of death/respawn animation – basically, if I had been given ANY time at all to vent this frustration – I may not have had a keyboard left to write this follow-up review. (It is also fortunate that I have a wired keyboard and mouse, which makes flinging either one of them across the room in a blind fit of rage a bit of a hassle.)

The only methods I had available for leaking some of this building pressurized hatred was either some sort of vocal release (such as some wonderfully colorful language; degrading the game’s feelings and calling into question its sense of worth, sexual orientation, and knowledge of whether or not its mother loved it; and the occasional long, low growl) or simply pressing the keyboard and mouse buttons down much more forcefully that was required.

But as with most things in life that are difficult to accomplish, once one of these demonic behemoths was vanquished I felt rejuvenated and ready to take on the next stage, which was usually a boss fight. In fact, most of the impossibly difficult stages seemed to appear right before some sort of cut scene or giant battle. So if you decide to venture through this game and find yourself getting flummoxed by an extremely difficult stage, don’t give up – wackiness is just around the bend.

Speaking of the game’s wackiness, I quite enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek “art world” that I got to venture through. Most of the dialogue has pretentious “meta-humor” commentary on the “video games as art” debate, with a couple of comments made by the game creator at the game creator. Other than that, the gameplay and level design of these stages were a whole mess of fun to play through. (I won’t give away too much here, but it was pretty cool.)

Overall, “No Time To Explain” was a blast to play through and the cut scenes, characters, and plot were entertaining. It’s a little short, but supposedly there is a level editor in the works for the Steam version, which would mean the ability to play and trade community-made stages online, creating a seemingly infinite replayability.

If you want to get a little taste of what the full game is like, you can find a much shorter flash version on Newgrounds or Arcade Bomb.