Data Design Interactive platforming games
Ninjabread Man, Anubis II, Myth Makers: Trixie in Toyland and Rock 'N' Roll Adventures are budget 3D platformer games developed by Data Design Interactive and published by Metro3D Europe, DDI and Conspiracy Entertainment for the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 and Wii systems from 2005 to 2008.
These games are known for being four of the most infamous shovelware games of all time, with Ninjabread Man considered to be the most notorious out of them. It was also announced by the same developer of said game that it was going to get a sequel titled Ninjabread Man II: Blades of Fury. However, for unknown reasons, its release was cancelled, and DDI later filed bankruptcy in 2012.
All of these four games share the same controls and goals, since they are based on the same engine. All games benefit from double jump controls that can be done by pressing the jump button twice. Attacks are made with sword-based controls that can be done on the floor or in the air (the character will spin around themselves while swinging their stick) and small projectiles that move in a straight line.
The goal of all of the games' levels (except the final level of Anubis II) are based on a collect-a-ton genre where the player has to collect 8 items to active teleporters which allow them to complete the level and unlock the next one.
The final level of Anubis II has a boss named Mumm'Hotep who is a giant skeleton at the end, that can be defeated by running through obstacle courses in a large arena with disappearing platforms to find exploding balls to throw them at the boss to deal damage to them with explosions. After the Mumm'Hotep is defeated, Anubis II is fully completed. Out of the four games covered in this article, Anubis II is the only to have a boss.
Why They Suck
- The entire games have a very lazy feeling; starting from Ninjabread Man, this game got countless rereleases that are only reskins of the exact same game with the same animations, controls, enemies, and much more. The only changes are the level designs and textures. And because of that, they were released for the same platforms without even bothering to make a port for a different platform, like the Nintendo DS or Xbox 360, just for the PS2, PC and Wii.
- Awful-looking graphics that would make you refuse to look at them after 3 to 5 minutes. The games look like Nintendo 64 launch titles, at least in 1996, despite these are games from 2005 to 2008. No matter which game Data Design Interactive made that reskined Ninjabread Man, the games will still look like launch titles for the Nintendo 64 in 1996.
- Clunky attack controls. On the floor, the sword controls are very unresponsive and do not work properly, as you might often miss enemy hits with it due to the attacks being very laggy. But on the air, the character instantly borrows his sword to swing it in circles allowing you to abuse it while constantly jumping, making the floor sword lag completely pointless. Shooting projectiles isn't even good either, as since they aren't remote-controlled, these attacks can often fail to hit the enemy as they can move away from the projectiles, or the projectiles might hit the floor.
- Very sluggish camera that turns so slowly, even if it's controlled to the maximum speed. Between tight sections like many walls, the camera will sometimes automatically zoom into the player, causing a lot of distraction that leads the player into touching other enemies or spikes without knowing it. They can however reset the camera position to behind themselves by pressing a button, but it still doesn't help.
- If you land on some platform edges, instead of staying still on them, you will stay stuck on them with an endless falling animation without being able to walk over them until you turn into the opposite direction. In some small holes in the game, if you jump into them, you will get stuck on them forever, forcing you to restart the level.
- To get an extra life, you need to fill all your health points to the maximum which is 10, which are obtainable by defeating any kind of enemies. However, after filling the health meter to the maximum, you will then lose half of it, which makes it a completely bizarre way of getting lives which also makes no sense at all. It's also really tedious as the attacks controls can often fail as mentioned above, and would result into the player losing a health point from touching the enemy instead of actually hitting it.
- The goals to complete levels in the games are completely out of place with the appearance of the games, with 8 pieces that you need to collect before getting into a portal that brings you to the next level. While the games all take place in bizarre-looking places, the portals are more futuristic than the actual worlds.
- All of these games are extremely short excluding their tutorial levels. Ninjabread Man as mentioned above is so short that there are only three playable levels in the entire game (without including the tutorial) With that amount of levels, the game can be completed in 100% in under 8 minutes.
- The landmines are hard to notice, and even if you get a bit close to them, it will still activate them and if you don't immediately run away from them, the explosion already hits you. What's worse, is that they can take 2 HP away from you, which makes the mines very unfair.
- Enemies' projectiles can go through walls, and can come from the back of the camera without the player noticing. This can lead to cheap deaths or falls due to the projectiles that can push the player off the platform.
- On the Wii versions, they rely on motion controls way too much with the Wiimote which aren't even completely accurate, making the controls unforgivably poor. Jumping is done only by swinging the Nunchuk accessory, but because again, it's unreliable, it leads to a plenty of jump fails and falling off platforms very often, forcing you to run back to the jump point. Even worse, there are some bottomless pits in these games, and it doesn't help because the jump controls are so pathetic and often fail to work.
- The tutorial levels on the Wii versions are completely unnecessary, as the controls are already easy to understand even while playing these games for the first time. If these games actually explain the controls in-game, why can't it be done throughout the other levels by using floating texts instead of being on the tutorial levels?
- Not a single reward or ending sequence is granted after you completed any these games. No modes unlocked, no cutscene, not even a single image, the game takes right back to the menu. This could be due to the lazy feeling of the games as mentioned in the first pointer, which means that the developers were too lazy to add endings into their games.
- The PC port of Ninjabread Man stole an image of Gingerbread Man from Shrek for the file icons without the permission of DreamWorks. Proof.
- Myth Makers: Trixie in Toyland and Rock 'n' Roll Adventures are basically blasts from the past, at least the PS2 versions, like SWAT Siege, as Myth Makers: Trixie in Toyland was released in 2006 for that platform, while Rock 'n' Roll Adventures was released in 2007 for that platform, which is basically to prove that Data Design Interactive didn't care that the PlayStation 3 debuted. Instead, they focused on the PS2, like Blast! Entertainment.
- While there has been an Egyptian god named Anubis, the god of death and cemeteries depicting a human with a canine head, Anubis II does have a protagonist who is also a canine wearing an Egyptian outfit which is accurate, but the title of the game has II on it, which is misleading because it feels like a sequel title, yet there hasn't been game from DDI just titled Anubis. Also, the game's protagonist is also named Anubis, meaning there is no purpose for the game to be titled Anubis II at all.
- In Anubis II, the game contradicts the name of the final boss, Mumm'Hotep by calling it the Evil Khufu on a message that displays after the player defeats it then goes the teleporter that then appears. That name was actually taken from an ancient Egyptian monarch from the 26th century BC, also named Khufu. Since Mumm'Hotep is a giant skeleton, there is literally no reason to refer it as the Evil Khufu, as there are no other mentions of that name in the whole game. Mumm'Hotep is mentioned in the game's back of the cover and its manual (misspelled Mummho'tep.)
The Only Redeeming Quality
- Ninjabread Man does have an interesting protagonist design, that can even fit on a comics book or TV show.
Ninjabread Man and its reskins have received extremely negative reviews from critics and users. On Metacritic, Ninjabread Man received an aggregated score of 20/100 from critics, 19/100 to Anubis II, 14/100 to Myth Makers: Trixie in Toyland (only from one critic, IGN) and an average score of 25/100 to Rock 'n' Roll Adventures from 3 critics (35, 30 and 10). On the same site, users gave an aggregated score of 1.5 to Ninjabread Man, 2.9 to Anubis II, 2.3 to Myth Makers and 0.8 to Rock 'n' Roll and on Google, 22% of users liked Ninjabread Man, 31% for Anubis II, 29% for Myth Makers and 24% for Rock 'n' Roll. Ninjabread Man is often considered one of the worst games of all time and has been featured on Wikipedia's article on the list of video games notable for negative reception.
Ninjabread Man has mainly been critcized for its poor camera, controls, graphics, and short game length: critics noted that the game could completed 100% in under 30 minutes. IGN gave it a 1.5/10 score, saying it was a "broken mess" and having "just enough character design and gameplay to cover the bullet points on the back of the box", but felt that the game still had a "hilarious concept" and jokingly praised the game's cover art, considering it to the best of any Wii game.
Data Design Interactive, developer of those four games, has been further criticized for reskinning Ninjabread Man to make it into 3 other games that share the overall same engine, gameplay and soundtrack as Ninjabread Man, causing them all to have the same issues as the latter. IGN felt that the games were "shovelware at a science" and representative of a bulk, quantity-over-quality approach to video game development. However, IGN still stated that Ninjabread Man had the most "appealing" thematics out of the three.