Chibi Ninja Devlog #2
Chibi Ninja Shino-kun is a game all about flow. And to allow players to achieve flow in a game, you need two things: A good movement system and level design that supports it. In this post I’d like to talk a bit about the movement in Chibi Ninja Shino-kun.
The Tricky Basics
The basic movement in a platformer consists of running and jumping. And it’s very important to get both of these elements right, as they form the core of the entire movement system. And there is a surprising number of ways in which you can mess these up. The running speed can’t be too fast, or you’ll end up running into everything like in Bubsy. But if it’s too slow, controlling your character might feel like a chore. Then there is the matter of acceleration. Does your character start moving at full speed the moment you press the button like in Mega Man, or does he slowly pick up speed like Sonic?
Jumping can be too floaty or too stiff, the jump height could be way too high or unsatisfyingly low, and the gravity also impacts how jumping in a game feels. There are no universally “correct” values for any of this, as it depends on the game and its design. Mega Man needs snappy movement and high jumps so that you can dodge and platform with pinpoint-precision. Sonic on the other hand needs to feel more weighty in order to facilitate the physics-based platforming. If Sonic went from 0 to 100 with the push of a button, the feeling of Sonic would be lost.
This wasn’t meant to be a dig at the modern 3D Sonics, I swear.
But anyway. In Shino-kun, movement is on the snappier side. There is acceleration, but it’s just to give the character some weight. I wanted to make the movement fast and precise, but not floaty. So I added just a tiny bit of acceleration and drag.
As for jumping…well, Shino-kun is a ninja, so obviously he can jump pretty high. He also has good air control, and you’ll need it to get past the obstacles in Demon Tower. I’ve also made sure to include some of the modern amenities that make platforming easier, such as coyote time and jump buffering. I didn’t go overboard with either though, so you’ll still need skill and precision to make your way through the stages.
Overall, I’m quite satisfied with the basic movement. I might end up slightly tweaking these values after doing some more serious playtesting, but things are looking good so far. But being a ninja, Shino-kun obviously has some more moves in his repertoire. Let’s take a look!
The old standby. Jumping while in the air will give you a tiny second jump, useful to correct your trajectory and land on small platforms. It doesn’t give you a lot of extra height, but it’s not supposed to, as there are other ways to climb up the levels. Such as…
The first time I saw a wall jump was in Shinobi III, and it blew my mind as a kid. It was just so cool, so…ninja. So naturally, Shino-kun can do it as well. Move into the wall, press jump, and Shino-kun launches himself off it. He’ll actually stay on the wall for a few frames, allowing you to get your bearings and push the D-Pad in the direction you want. And of course you can chain wall jumps to climb up shafts.
If there’s no wall in sight, you can use your trusty hookshot to make your way up Demon Tower! Pressing the button will shoot it straight up, and if you keep the button pressed down, it’ll keep going until it hits a surface and launch Shino-kun upwards. By the way, you can let go of the button at any time to make Shino-kun jump off early. This makes the hookshot a bit more flexible, even though it can only fire straight up.
If you’ve hooked onto a ceiling with the hookshot and keep the button held down until Shino-kun touches it, he’ll stick to the ceiling. Pressing left and right will then allow him to climb on the ceiling, ninja-style! This is useful for climbing over enemies and obstacles. Enemies and obstacles that aren’t on the ceiling, anyway. Getting the animation down for this was tricky, by the way. I mean…do you know what running on a ceiling looks like? I don’t.
But Shino-kun also knows how to move along the ground. Press the slide button, and he’ll go zoom! This will get you under low ceilings and obstacles, and if you hit enemies or objects while sliding, they’ll go flying! And if you want to be a true ninja, you can then kick them while they are in the air. This move might even be necessary in some spots…I’ll show off how it works in the next devlog.
Finally, we have the dive kick. Pressing the slide button in midair will make Shino-kun do a dive kick downwards, and once he hits the ground, he’ll automatically start sliding! This move is the key to getting through Demon Tower at ninja speeds, as it’ll give you a lot of speed very quickly. Pro tip: Use it after a series of wall jumps or a hookshot-climb to get moving again!
And that’s the movement options that Shino-kun has. I’ve made sure that players can move quickly both horizontally and vertically, so that they never have to slow down (if they know the levels, that is). But for this to work, you also have to be able to “link” the two directions, which you can! You can use your hookshot while sliding, quickly launching you upwards; and the dive kick gives you a lot of horizontal velocity while you’re moving vertically.
I’ve put a lot of thought into the movement in Chibi Ninja Shino-kun in order to facilitate flow and give players the control they need, and I hope you’ll notice that when playing the game.
What do you think of Shino-kun’s moves? What combinations would you like to try? Can you climb on ceilings and show me a video of how that looks? Thanks for reading, be excellent to each other, and until next time!
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