I confess, I am a bit of anime nerd, with a particular penchant for the two most obvious of franchises, the long running Bleach and Naruto franchises. So given the chance to play a game that combines those two franchises, well, how could I say no to that? Unfortunately, while Pockie Ninja appears to be that dream game come true, it's actually very much not that game.
Don't let the name fool you, Pockie Ninja does not, in fact, involve storing ninja's in little spheres and then throwing them at people. And don't let the trailer fool you either, it's not a cross-over fighting game that mixes Naruto and Bleach, the two biggest anime franchises together. Well it kind of is that, but it also totally isn't.
Pockie Ninja is actually a browser based MMO/RPG/virtual pet hybrid game, that borrows the characters and thematic stylings of Bleach and Naruto, without getting bogged down in either games extensive continuity. In other words, Pockie Ninja uses the names and imagery of a large number of those two anime series' characters, but you never actually play as any of those characters.
What Pockie Ninja actually does is use the characters like Sasuke Uchiha, Renji Abarai, Yoruichi Shihōin and Hinata Hyuga as character classes. In a move similar to Final Fantasy X-2, your created character is able to change outfits as the game progresses, and in doing so gain new abilities associated with those outfits; the various characters being the outfits.
It's a pretty interesting way of mixing all those characters from these two major franchises, but it does have a major flaw. Getting to use the more sort after characters, like Itachi Uchiha or Ichigo Kurusaki, involves a major costs that will take major grinding before they become affordable. So in the opening hours of the game you're stuck with franchise C-listers and B-listers like Choj Akimichi and Soi-fon.
Which wouldn't be so bad if the the gameplay itself was engaging, but unfortunately, that is not the case. The screenshots and trailers telegraph a fighting game, but Pockie Ninja is more of a character management game. You job in the game is to basically nurture your character, by picking doable quests for them and equipping them with the proper stat boosting equipment and teaching them the right skills to make them winners. And that's pretty much all you do, because combat it completely automatic. As a player you have no input into how the fights actually play out at all. The combat looks really good, so it's really disappointing that that's the case.
The are some other interesting ideas in the mix with Pockie Ninja, like being able to team-up with other players to do tougher quests or even challenging them to sparring matches. The customisation options are also pretty deep, not to mention an item synthesising system that amounts to a simplified crafting system. But in the final analyses, Pockie Ninja is as huge game, with tons of content, but surprisingly little to do. For non-Naruto and Bleach fans, Pockie Ninja will seem like a right royal slog. However, for the people that are way into Bleach and Naruto, Pockie Ninja is a very different proposition and they likely find lots to enjoy, in spite of the games repetitive gameplay.
You can check the game out for yourself here.
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