Developed by GungHo Online Entertainment, Ninjala is a free-to-play Nintendo Switch exclusive filled with colour and fast-paced action.
On 28 and 29 April, the developers ran an open, but very limited, beta to allow some fans to get a hands-on experience of Ninjala.
There’s plenty to do in Ninjala, from crafting bigger weapons to utilising gum, so the gameplay can be very varied depending on how you approach each battle.
Ninjala Basic Controls
The Ninjala controls list below assume the use of the two-piece joy-con controller set-up. These include the Switch in handheld mode, both joy-cons docked on a grip, or the use of a pro controller. There are 4 control layout options you can choose from.
For the purposes of this Ninjala controls guide, the buttons on the direction pad (d-pad) are listed as Up, Right, Down, and Left. The right analogue is denoted as (R), and the left analogue is denoted as (L). Pressing an analogue is marked as either R3 or L3.
|Action||Control Type A||Control Type B||Control Type C||Control Type D||Hint|
|Camera||(R)||(R)||(R)||(R)||Camera controls can be made automatic, manual, or set to gyroscope in the Camera Controls settings.|
|Reset Camera||L3||L3||L3||L3||Click to reset the camera,|
|Auto-Target||R3||R3||R3||R3||Click to automatically target your nearest foe.|
|Move||(L)||(L)||(L)||(L)||Run in any direction.|
|Run Up Walls||(L)||(L)||(L)||(L)||To scale a wall, simply run towards it. Your character will automatically scale the wall.|
|Jump||B||B||B||B||Tap to perform a quick jump.|
|Double Jump||B (while in midair)||B (while in midair)||B (while in midair)||B (while in midair)||Tap to jump, and then again to double jump.|
|Wall Vault||B (while on a wall)||B (while on a wall)||B (while on a wall)||B (while on a wall)||While running on a wall, press to jump from the wall face.|
|Ability (Special)||Y||R||A||R||Different for each weapon used. Usually a faster, more powerful move than a regular attack.|
|Gum Morphing||A||X||L||A||Press to disguise yourself as a common object.|
|Gum Utsusemi||Down||Down||Down||Down||Press to morph into a set object.|
|Set Gum Utsusemi||Right||Right||Right||Right||Press to set your Gum Utsusemi.|
|Gum Ninjutsu||X||L||ZL||ZR||At the bottom right of the screen, your Ninjutsu metre fills throughout the match. Press to activate the special Gum Ninjutsu move that differs per weapon.|
|Normal Attack||ZR||ZR||ZR||Y||Tap to swing your weapon and perform an attack.|
|Combination Attack||ZR, ZR, ZR||ZR, ZR, ZR||ZR, ZR, ZR||Y, Y, Y||Press several times to strike your opponent with multiple hits to form a combo. Pulling the left analogue forward, backwards, or sideways changes the attack.|
|Gum Guard||ZL (hold)||Y (hold)||Y (hold)||ZL (hold)||Press and hold to blow a gum bubble. This can act as a block, the basis of a weapon build, or a projectile attack. The more S-Energy units you have, the larger the bubble you can blow.|
|Gum Shoot||ZL (hold), ZR||Y (hold), ZR||Y (hold), ZR||ZL (hold), Y||Once you’ve blown the Gum Bubble, fire it across the map or at an enemy by pressing the Gum Shoot button. The effect of the Gum Shoot differs between weapons.|
|Craft a Weapon||ZL (hold), A||Y (hold), X||Y (hold), L||ZL (hold), A||Once you’ve blown the Gum Bubble, press to craft it into a weapon. If you blow the Gum Bubble with eight or more S-Energy units, you can craft a bigger weapon.|
|Dodge Attacks||L||A||R||L||Quickly tap to dodge an attack. Performing a dodge costs one S-Energy Unit.|
|S-Burst Mode||ZL||Y||Y||ZL||When reeling from an attack (see Gum Bottle glow) tap to perform a quick dodge and enter S-Burst Mode. In S-Burst Mode, you’ll automatically parry enemy attacks. Requires 5 units of S-Energy.|
|Break Attack||R||ZL||X||X||Landing a break attack while your enemy is in S-Burst Mode will destroy your foe’s weapon (known as a Weapon Crash) and gum-bind them. Can also be used to break a Gum Guard.|
|Gum Boost||ZL (hold), B (in midair)||Y (hold), B (in midair)||Y (hold), B (in midair)||ZL (hold), B (in midair)||To perform a Gum Boost, blow a Gum Bubble, and then, when in midair, press the designated button. Performing a Gum Boost costs three units of S-Energy.|
|Communication Menu||Up||Up||Up||Up||Use this to select an emote to use.|
All controls noted below use Control Type A, as noted above.
What do Drones do in Ninjala?
In Ninjala, Drones can be found all over the map. The Drones are key to making bigger and more powerful weapons.
When you see a Drone, as pictured above, attack it by pressing ZR. When you destroy a Drone, your S-Energy capacity increases.
With a greater number of S-Energy units available, you can blow larger Gum Bubbles (hold ZL), and craft more massive weapons (when you have eight or more S-Energy units at your disposal).
There are four types of Drones in Ninjala, depending on your game mode:
- Red Drone (Small): Increase S-Energy capacity by one.
- Red Drone (Large): Increase S-Energy capacity by two.
- Green Drone (Small): Increase S-Energy capacity by one. Nearby teammates will receive the same benefit.
- Green Drone (Large): Increase S-Energy capacity by two. All teammates will receive the same benefit.
The two larger Drone types feature a parasol instead of propellers to keep it afloat, as well as more decorative paint scheme.
What is S-Energy in Ninjala?
S-Energy is what’s used to power special moves, weapon creation, and Gum Bubbles.
To increase the amount of S-Energy that you can use, destroy Drones. To top up your S-Energy stores, run through the yellow orbs positioned around the map.
The more S-Energy you have, the larger the Gum Bubble that you can blow. A larger Gum Bubble can offer a more considerable amount of protection, be more effective when fired, and craft larger weapons.
When you have eight or more units of S-Energy at your disposal, you can create bigger and better weapons by holding ZL to blow a Gum Bubble, and then pressing A to build a larger weapon.
How to parry and how to score an Ippon in Ninjala
In Ninjala, when two identical attacks meet, a parry commences. You can also start a parry by entering S-Burst Mode (ZL while reeling from an attack).
In the parry, you and your opponent will engage in a fast-paced game of rock-paper-scissors, of sorts.
The Ninjala controls while in a parry are moving sideways, up, or down with the left analogue. Each of the three moves is superior to one and weak to the other, as follows:
- (L) up beats (L) down;
- (L) down beats (L) sideways;
- (L) sideways beats (L) up.
Be sure to be ready to use these Ninjala controls again even after the first move as, if both players select the same action, the parry will continue.
Ninjas can also capitalise on the bonus offered by landing a Parry Combo. If you activate Nullify multiple times in succession, you’ll score a bonus.
If your weapon is larger than your opponent’s weapon, you’ll be at a significant advantage when engaging in a parry.
Once you win the parry, you can attack your opponent until you defeat them – resulting in an Ippon.
You can also score an Ippon by binding your foe via a Gum Shoot or Gum Break and then knocking them out.
If you don’t fancy seeing out a parry, you can Dodge, by pressing L, to break away from the parry at the cost of one S-Energy.
An Ippon offers many points to the victor; in Ninjala, points win games.
For a more detailed look at how to score an Ippon in Ninjala, check out our guide.
What is Gum Bind?
You will see a Gum Bind in effect when your character, or you foe’s character, becomes stuck while standing by gum and is unable to move.
If you are struck by Gum Shoots and other attacks, accumulating a certain amount of gum damage, you’ll eventually suffer from a Gum Bind when hit by the right offensive move.
How to Block in Ninjala
Performing a block in Ninjala is achieved by pressing the Gum Guard button (either hold ZL or hold Y, depending on your control type). Doing so will blow up a defensive gum bubble in front of your character which blocks attacks.
The more S-Energy that you have available, the larger the Gum Guard will be: the larger the Gum Guard, the more hits it can block. Blocking an attack will stop you from sustaining damage, but once your Gum Guard pops, you’ll be exposed.
Some attacks cannot be blocked, and a Break Attack (see table) can smash through a Gum Guard. So, blocking in Ninjala is best used to absorb some initial damage before you counter with an attack of your own.
How to use a Big Weapon in Training
To experience a Ninjala weapon in its fullest form, you’ll want to activate the Big Weapon weapon size when you’re in the training mode.
By going into the Training Menu, over to Player Settings, and then scrolling down, you can change the weapon size option to Big Weapon.
In this menu, you can also change aspects like the special ability and amount of S-Energy you have to use in the training room.
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