Super House of Dead Ninjas

A game by Megadev and Adult Swim Games for PC, originally released in 2013.
Super House of Dead Ninjas is a high speed action game that pits the Crimson Ninja against a 350 story tower packed to the walls with enemies, spikes, and treasure. Action is fast and furious from the top of the tower to the bottom as the heroine slices her way through enemies, tosses shuriken to pick off foes from a distance, uses bombs to blast away blocks and enemies (and herself, if she’s not careful), and unleashes ninja magic to bring the pain to everyone around her.

The game offers a quick tutorial area to get the player accustomed to the controls, showing you how to jump, double jump, and crouch. You can also run while crouched, as well as perform wall jumps and wall slides, and you can perform a high jump by ducking for a few seconds and then jumping. There are a couple easy enemies in this area and a place to try out each of your ninja skills. But after you drop down into the next level of the tower, a 30 second clock starts counting down. 30 seconds to get through a 350 story tower may seem like madness (and it is, actually), but there are pickups along the way that restore the meter back to 30 seconds.

Clock pickups are frequent enough that you’re generally in no danger of running out of time, as long as you don’t tarry for too long in any one area. As the clock gets into its last 10 seconds, a deep rising tone sounds, adding to the overall tension. Even if you do manage to run the clock down, this does not spell instant death. Instead, a large scythe-wielding creature descends from above, forcing you to rush ever further downward. From a design standpoint, this essentially means that there is no time to stand around. This is not a contemplative game. You won’t be solving block puzzles or sitting through cutscenes; you will be running… all the time. Running and slicing your way through everything you see.

With the Crimson Ninja’s brisk running speed and fast attacks, the floors fly by quickly. Most enemies can be destroyed in a single hit, with tougher enemies taking two hits. You also have a spinning attack and a downward sword strike which can be activated by pressing DOWN while you are in the air, and this will destroy enemies in a single hit. Given the descent-oriented gameplay, you will have many opportunities to use this deadly attack.

Most enemies pace back and forth, but others will give chase, such as the maniacal monkey that flings itself at you whenever you get near, and it and can even jump over pits and descend to lower levels. Things get more challenging the deeper you descend, with some enemies remaining hidden, revealing themselves and attacking only when you get close. Of course, there are plenty of spikes to contend with as well.

In a show of true ninja badassery, getting killed knocks you to the ground, but you hop up with a quick ninja flip, destroying whatever enemy is standing over you for a nice revenge kill. Even spikes and enemies invincible to your attacks are pulverized instantly by your resurrection. Dying also gives you 30 seconds back on the clock, and restores some of your secondary weapons, further rewarding cavalier gameplay. You get 5 lives and a 2 additional continues to start – with a classic “save yourself from death” continue sequence reminiscent of many arcade games – but you will earn additional chances as you play.

Super House of Dead Ninjas features roguelike elements, not the least of which are randomized dungeon layouts and permadeath. While there are only a certain number of room configurations, the number of enemies and spikes change based on your position in the tower, and rooms appear in mirrored versions as well. As you play, you will begin to recognize certain configurations, which will help you to tackle them quickly and get the drop on hidden enemies.

Lose all of your lives and continues, and it’s back to the title screen with you. However, based on certain criteria, such as the number of enemies killed, number of deaths, etc. you will begin to unlock bonuses. Among these are additional lives and a longer timer. You can also unlock dozens of new weapons, which are selectable at the start of each run (though you can also opt to randomize them).

Is that quick but short-range Katana not working out for you? Meeting certain criteria will open up new weapons such as a whip and nunchucks. Shuriken can be swapped for boomerangs, throwing axes, and even a gun, but each new weapon comes with a tradeoff. For instance, the whip has a longer range but moves much less quickly. Tossed shuriken can be picked up and added back to your inventory, where the boomerang is slower but doesn’t consume ammunition. The axe works Castlevania-style, flying up in an arc and allowing you to kill enemies on lower platforms, but without the ability to collect them afterward.

Bombs can be swapped for Molotov cocktails, dynamite, and grenades, and there are a few varieties of magic available as well. The weapon selection interface shows what criteria are required to earn each upgrade. Given the large number of weapons and other items available, you’ll unlock them quickly in the early going. Many of the easier items require only that you meet a certain score or kill a certain number of enemies. However, some require that you defeat enemies a certain way or with a specific weapon.

You can also earn increases to your carrying capacity for finite secondary weapons, and there are a number of unlockable outfits as well. You can also unlock items which will then appear as pickups in the game, including a crystal ball that shows you where nearby items are located, an infinite ammo pickup, and a smart bomb. Some items slow down other otherwise disable enemies, such as the Monkey Bane which causes those evil monkeys to run away whenever they see you. (Just be mindful of skull pickups which act as power-downs, with a number of nasty results.) The more items you unlock, the easier it will be to descend the tower on your next run.

You enter the tower from the roof, with 350 levels below you. When you reach level 250, you face off against a boss. If you defeat it, you will be able start from level 250 on future playthroughs. The same applies to level 150. You’re on your own from level 150 to the ground floor where you will face the ultimate challenge. A Hard Mode is available as well, adding some additional challenge, more floors, and no continues. As you play, you can collect letters – spelling out “Where Am I?” – to earn tickets to enter a second tower called Transdimensional Leakage, a more difficult run meant to challenge experienced players.

In addition to the Crimson Ninja’s high speed, capable moveset, and numerous weapons, there is also a rage meter at the top of the screen that fills whenever you kill an enemy with your primary weapon, and then it slowly drains away between kills. Kill enough enemies in succession, and you will go into Rage Mode – heralded by the humorous voiceover guy yelling “RAAAAAAGE!” – which grants you temporary invincibility and the ability to strike down any foe in one hit (except those immune to sword strikes). In a game where death comes quickly and you must make the most of every second, even a short bit of invincibility and increased power make a huge difference. But you can extend this rage time as well.

By killing more enemies with your sword, you add extra rage time. Thus, stringing together multiple kills can turn you into an unstoppable killing machine. This further encourages the core mechanics of quick level navigation, rapid descent, and killing as many enemies as possible. Players who have mastered the mechanics will be able to enable Rage Mode frequently, capitalizing on refilling the meter, and dropping dozens of floors before Rage Mode ends.

A quick note about the controls: The game was originally released without gamepad support, requiring that players use the keyboard or manually map the keyboard controls to a gamepad. Since its release, however, native gamepad support has been added, allowing players to more easily adapt to the console-style twitch oriented gameplay.

Super House of Dead Ninjas is an expanded version of the original Flash game House of Dead Ninjas. The new format retains the core structure and enemies, but also offers a full-screen mode, new room designs, more weapons, a map editor, and entirely new tower in the form of Transdimensional Leakage.

The game was developed by Megadev, a UK-based studio specializing in 2D Flash-based games and iOS titles, made up of designer/programmer Mike Tucker, audio designer Nick Parton, and artist Jon Davies. The studio has released more than a dozen games since its establishment in 2008.

The game published by Adult Swim Games, which has gone on to publish such indie titles as Völgarr the Viking, Fist Puncher, Super Comboman, Oblitus, Westerado: Double Barreled, Rise & Shine, Rain World, and Death's Gambit.