The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game
Do you know Spinjitzu?
Meet Kai, Cole, Nye, Zane, Jay and Lloyd (La-Loyd to his father); six school kids who, under the tuition of Master Wu, must unlock their Spinjitzu powers and battle the evil warlord Garmadon. As the “ultimate “weapon” is unleashed these ninjas must punch, kick, slice, and whack their way across Ninjago to find the “ultimate ultimate weapon” and help bring peace to the city.
Although this is yet another Lego movie tie-in, it’s also another step up on the evolutionary ladder for TT Games. The company, well versed in creating immensely fun and easily playable games, have finely tuned their formula to build possibly one of the best Lego games to date.
The story, following the plot of the movie, is set across 14 chapters in eight mini hub-worlds that make up Ninjago island. The use of cutscenes lifted directly from the film and quite a few in-house clips blends the often hilarious storytelling (we had some really big laugh-out-loud moments) with some fabulous gameplay. We never felt we were lost in terms of the story, and although there will be spoilers for the movie, at the time of writing it still hadn’t been released in the UK (it’s out on October 13), we enjoyed the game enough to still want to pop to our local cinema so we can watch it on the big screen.
Each chapter of the story opens with an image depicting our heroes in the style of old kung fu movies. It’s beautifully done and, as this style is naturally draped all over the game, it left us hankering to watch old Bruce Lee flicks after we’d finished playing.
Lego Ninjago The Movie Video Game is probably the best-looking game in the franchise yet; everything seems to have been given that little bit of extra polish (perhaps because they no longer have to worry about the old-gen consoles anymore) and it helps the levels feel alive. Despite the fast-paced fighting, the huge number of characters on screen, and the vast amounts of bouncing studs, there was very little stuttering and hardly any noticeable frame-rate drops, which certainly surprised us.
The soundtrack also follows along the same martial arts-inspired theme, and the game doesn’t only have dialogue, it also boasts music taken straight from the movie. This coupled to the stellar voice acting and fabulous ninja sound effects, which sounds amazing in full surround, make the game even more enjoyable.
One of the most notable elements of the game is its combat system. No longer are we limited to just hitting objects and enemies. A huge and varied skill tree gives you the ability to chain attacks and add to your combo counter which also acts as a stud multiplier. This “Wall of Ninjanuity” grants you a new skill to unlock at various checkpoints along the way, but leaves it open for you to pick which abilities you want to utilise. One such ability causes you to launch the bad guys high into the air while you swiftly land a barrage of hits before smashing them, quite satisfyingly, into the ground in a fountain of studs.
Studs, as is the case in all the Lego games, is the staple currency. However, rather than each level having a target number of studs to reach, TT Games has cleverly changed it to an overall stud count, negating the need to farm them by destroying everything in sight before you finish your level; instead you’ll find yourself trying to maximise your chain combos to boost your multipliers and reap the studs that fall.
The Island of Ninjago is broken up into eight hubs in which you can travel out of the story in search of the vast number of collectables available to you. Most will require the Spinjitzu moves you learn in the story, or special moves that need specific characters picked up along the way, further connecting the action to the new combat moves.
Lego games have always had a huge array of characters to unlock, some just from completing levels, others from finding hidden character studs. The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Gamechanges things up a little bit, however. The character studs have been replaced with minifigure kits, just like you would buy in a store; find one and the packet will be opened and the figure is built in front of you, adding it to your roster in the process.
More minifigure kits can be found in the new Dojo challenges. Dotted around Ninjago, these dojos each contain a master to defeat. Battle your way through the waves of baddies to bring out the boss, and defeating them you’ll win a gold block. Score enough studs along the way and you can unlock up to three minifigures. These are a nice little addition that certainly help to break up some of the end-game content that some have found a little repetitive in past games.
Anyone who has played Lego Dimensions will be familiar with the new Battle Mode added to the game. It’s a four-player split-screen tournament with three game modes and a whole host of levels to battle on with your friends. This can be really good fun and tends to end up being quite competitive. This can also be quite frustrating, however, as the screen is broken up into four, regardless of how many players are playing. This restricts your field of view and, coupled with some of the effects that can be used, can make play a bit painful at times.
Lego Ninjago The Movie Video Game is not only another decent title by TT Games, it’s also a welcome step forward as the series continues to evolve. There is enough story, comedy, interaction, and exploration to keep players old and young busy for hours, and while the Ninjago series may not be as popular as the likes of the Marvel and DC, it’s another fine addition to the series.