Have you ever picked up a video game and taken it towards the till, before throwing up and chucking it to the ground because you realised it has ‘the official movie video game’ in its title? OK so you’ve probably not literally thrown up, but a sickening, inner feeling of decay does occur when you look at one of those new movie tie-in video games. Over the past decade TT Games and Warner Bros have not only wonderfully brought the digital world of LEGO to life, but they’ve also successfully LEGO’d some of our favourite movie franchises, however that being said, is it still OK to be precarious over an “official” stand alone movie tie in? The first LEGO Movie Video Game may have received pretty good acclaim, but the pessimist in me is doubting the same praise can be earned a second time. The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game is Warner’s 2nd ‘stab’ at cashing in on a cinema blockbuster, will this one gather up the same above-average praise as it’s predecessor, or will this one thrill and ‘Wu’ it’s avid fans?
The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game is the latest LEGO release from TT Studios and Warner Bros, releasing on all consoles and PC. Following the narrative of its movie counterpart (so much so in fact that cutscenes have been lifted directly from the feature film), players will battle their way through waves of enemies as their favourite LEGO Ninja, Lloyd, Nya, Jay, Kai, Cole, Zane and Master Wu. With the overwhelming power of stealth, attitude and the elements, the Ninjago stars will come together to do battle with the nefarious Garmaddon and his supporting Shark army. Players will master the power of Ninjagility, Ninjinuity and other ‘Ninjafied’ abilities to save your loved ones and home town, and as always you can enjoy the game in free play and obtain Gold Bricks by completing side quests, winning little races and rebuilding Ninjago City back to its former glory! Within each of the game’s locations players will have the opportunity to show off their sweet Ninja skills in the all new Challenge Dojos, or if you’re feeling really competitive then try fighting your friends online or locally in the all new Battle Maps. This game certainly does sound like your typical LEGO video game however there are a few new fancy bricks thrown in for 2017, so is this set worth picking up with your precious Yellow C-shaped hands?
In the LEGO games of old, Combat had always taken a back seat in favour of puzzles and exploration; however, in LEGO Ninjago it’s the combat that gets it’s time to shine, obviously because it’s about kickass Ninjas. Whether you’re killing foes with nunchucks, a staff or ever a bow and arrow, the combat is enjoyable and quite fast paced, at least in comparison to past LEGO games anyway. Your actions are fairly limited however and it doesn’t take long before the action gets more than a little repetitive, but each character you play as brings something different to the buffet, so you’ll at least be getting some enjoyment out of doing the exact same thing over and over again. If you’ve ever played a LEGO game before you’ll be accustomed to the trope of every character having a combination of many elaborate but highly creative special abilities, abilities that not only help you out in the battlefield but also lead you to uncovering secrets and hidden items. Unsurprisingly this trait is still very much alive no matter the franchise. Whether it’s hacking doors, busting ghosts or simply using your swords as levers, every character you control, good or bad, will be equipped with a number of unique abilities that will be tested if you want to obtain every Gold Brick, cheat code or costume set; the Ninjago heroes are also in possession of elemental powers that are used in similar fashion, again adding another layer of complexity, difficulty and encouragement to reap every reward this game has to offer.
Speaking of difficulty and encouragement, if you truly want to be the best then you’ll need to prove yourself in the game’s Challenge Dojos and Battle Arenas. The Challenge Dojo’s, which take you to a unique location or one integral to the movie’s plot, will task you with beating an impressive high score to win a Gold Brick or special costume set. Turning your casual crusade into an all out arcade brawl, the Challenge Dojo’s will really test your plastic by rewarding big combos, which turns the game mode into a much more difficult one, which is wonderfully unusual for a LEGO game. This tricky and addictive gameplay mode is really the only enjoyable part of the game outside the main storyline, as it’s genuinely chaotic and adds a much faster pace to the rest of the game’s side quests, which follow the usual build this, kill them and race that. Combine the dojos with the Battle Arenas that ask you to break your friends into tiny cute pieces, each of these additional game modes, though small in comparison to the rest of the game, do add an extra full fat dollop of frantic fun to your diet.
It’s by no means the craziest, most epic or even the most magical entry in the LEGO video game franchise, but you know what, it’s bloody good fun, as if you had any doubt. Considering that LEGO Ninjago is more focused on fighting waves of enemies opposed to mere casual exploration, this LEGO set does actually feel a little different to the other LEGO games you may have played before, giving the franchise a much-needed refreshing glaze. Whether you’re 8 or 38, trotting round a large LEGO city as a little Ninja, running up walls and slicing up shark soldiers with a pair of teeny tiny swords is just wonderful. It may get repetitive a little too quickly, the game’s “quests” may be little more than races & building requests and the loading screens verge on painful, but there’s enough subtle tweaks and features here to spruce up that typical LEGO formula. It’s reassuring that even when cashing in on the impending Autumn blockbuster, Warner Bros have pulled no punches when making this game. If you’re looking for a solid platformer to play alone, with friends or with family, then LEGO Ninjago is a pretty kickass choice!