Impressions: Mark of the Ninja Remastered is a solid port on Nintendo Switch
Mark of the Ninja’s high-quality 2D stealth gameplay captivated me when the game originally launched way back in 2012. When I heard the game was getting a remastered upgrade, I was naturally excited, especially when developer Klei Entertainment announced the remastered edition would be coming to the Nintendo Switch console.
Having now played the Nintendo Switch version of Mark of the Ninja Remastered, I can say with confidence that it’s an excellent port of an already excellent game. The remastered upgrade admittedly doesn’t add much in the way of tangible new content, but it does at least make Mark of the Ninja worth revisiting, especially if you haven’t played it since its 2012 debut.
Most of the upgrades included in Mark of the Ninja Remastered are of the visual sort. Klei went back and upped the game’s resolution to make it look less compressed and ensure it is fully 4K HD compatible. The character sprites, background art, and cinematics have all been touched up as well. Klei even took the time to reanimate many of the cinematics, adding in new visual and plot details which better help to convey the game’s story.
Speaking of which, the entire base game experience can be played on the Switch in portable mode with flawless execution. Granted, Mark of the Ninja’s high-quality presentation isn’t very surprising given how little stress its 2D graphics put on a given platform. However, it’s still nice to see that Klei ensured the game would run silky smooth even when playing on the go.
The one major gameplay addition in Mark of the Ninja Remastered is a brand new optional level called Dosan’s Tale. The level functions as a prequel to the main game’s events, casting players as a younger version of the elderly NPC Dosan as he works to secure the tattoo ink which will one day give the main game’s protagonist his powers.
Unlike the main game’s ninja, Dosan doesn’t use a sword, instead relying on non-lethal stealth takedowns and other martial arts moves to incapacitate his opponents. Along with familiar ninja tools like darts and the grappling hook, Dosan also has a few unique tricks such as Dusk Moths which can disable foes from a distance and a Fungal Spores trap that can eliminate multiple enemies in close proximity.
The Dosan’s Tale level itself isn’t much longer than the average length of the main game’s levels, but it still provides plenty of opportunities for players to put Dosan’s unique skills to the test. Also, beating the level unlocks Dosan for use in the main game, allowing players to challenge themselves further if they wish.
If there was one criticism I would level at Mark of the Ninja on Nintendo Switch, it’s one which actually applies more towards the console than the game. For those who don’t know, the Switch’s alphabetical face buttons are mapped so that X is on the top and Y is to the left. If you’re used to, say, an Xbox One or Xbox 360 controller where Y is on top and X is to the left, this can naturally lead to some problems.
On many occasions my muscle memory would betray me, leading me to accidently throw out a ninja tool (and often reveal my position in the process) by pressing X when I meant to initiate a stealth kill with Y.
It’s a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things, and it likely won’t be an issue at all for players who are already used to the Switch’s unconventional button layout, but it’s still one worth mentioning. I was bummed to discover that Mark of the Ninja’s Switch port doesn’t allow you to remap the controls, but such was also the case in the original version so, again, I can’t really fault Klei on that one.
Mastering the shadows
In the realm of high-quality stealth games, few can compare to Mark of the Ninja Remastered, especially when it comes to 2D stealth. The game certainly requires a level of patience and dedication that most other games wouldn’t ask of their players, but there’s really nothing else like pulling off a clean and stylish stealth kill or making it through an entire level undetected.
If you’re not worried about having to reprogram your controller muscle memory on the fly, Mark of the Ninja Remastered on the Nintendo Switch is very much worth playing. It may not add a ton of value for those who already played the base game, but if you’re entirely new to Mark of the Ninja or it’s simply been a long while since you last played it, there’s no denying that Mark of the Ninja Remastered is one of the best stealth games currently available on the Switch.