This game was reviewed on Xbox One
Much like the film tie in on which it’s based, The Lego Ninjago Movie Videogame is a colourful, often funny thrill ride that has no business being as fun as it is. It captures the overall feel of the latest Lego release, while improving the already tried and tested approach of previous Lego games
In Lego Ninjago, the eponymous city is repeatedly attacked by the evil Lord Gormadon, who happens to be father to one of the city’s saviours, the Green Ninja Lloyd. Lloyd is despised within the city for being the son of Gormadon, and while he is visibly stressed because of this, he still jumps to the rescue of the city day in, day out.
You control Lloyd and the other ninjas as they travel through the city, beating up Gormadon’s posse as he repeatedly tries to take over the town. Then, when Lloyd makes a mistake which wreaks havoc, the ninja’s must keep their wits and come to the city’s time of need once more.
The gameplay here can be likened to that of Rocksteady’s Arkham games, combo moves and high flying cinematic hits driving the enemy back. While more restrictive than the Arkham games, the acrobatics are fun and nonetheless impressive. Much of the story is based on this, controlling the ninja’s mecha vehicles, and some puzzles to be worked out through the story.
These puzzles mainly involves finding a pre selected object nearby, and smashing it obits so you can build something better, to open a door/put out a fire etc. The combat action is fluid, and along the way there are interspersed jokes from the voice team not too far from the level of comedy we’ve seen in previous Lego movies or games.
Some of the story is a bit muddled, and the voice over work leaves a little to be desired; the voice team from the movie aren’t on for the game. But the main issue is that, what feels like every time you accomplish anything, there’s another cut scene. The problem is that you will accomplish something every 5 minutes if you play the game with any kind of pace.
Many of the cut scenes seem ripped straight from the film, so there is a fantastic level of animation on show here, but it can still be quite distracting and null your effort through he story. That said, the somewhat open world layout of Ninjago is enjoyable, each level it’s own layout and unique buildings and bad guys.
The combat, while devoid of much depth, can be improved upon by collecting ‘Ninjauity Tokens’, helping turn your students into a fully fledged ninjas. And this seeps into a great part of the game. There is a lack of focus on one character; while the story is ultimately Lloyds, the need to control multiple players over the course of the game means a constant switching between fighting styles and a need for unity and teamwork unlike most other games of this ilk.
The fact is, the game is a lot of fun. Clunky as it may be at times, it still maintains the sensibilities of previous Lego games, while improving in areas we may not know needed improvement. We rarely get film tie in games any more, as game development has turned into it’s own entertainment vehicle. So it’s nice to revert back to where things used to stand; there’s a nostalgia tinged throughout the Lego Ninjago Movie Videogame, which is a sentence I’m pretty sure has never been uttered before.
The Lego Ninjago Movie Videogame is released on the 6th of October, available for Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch.