Ninja Pizza Girl is a side-scrolling platform game, developed by Australian indy studio Disparity Games. The game focuses on the adventures of sixteen year old Gemma as she attempts to deliver pizzas as she battles against an evil rival pizza company.
Ninja Pizza Girl is set in a dystopian future, one where slums are built on top of high rise skyscrapers, with the less well-off packed into small dwellings. The game’s heroine Gemma works as a delivery girl for her Dad’s family-owned pizzeria Pizzariffic, with her wheelchair-bound brother Tristan acting as her comms link; Gemma uses her parkour skills to dash across rooftops and over buildings to deliver pizzas to friends and family. Before long Gemma encounters the evil ninja pizza delivery team who work for the corporate-owned Mega Pizza Corp, hell bent on harassing and bullying Gemma at every turn in a continual attempt to put Pizzariffic out of business.
The main story is broken down into six chapters, with at least four missions within each chapter. The final mission in each chapter are generally have a slight twist – whether it’s ensuring Gemma doesn’t lose momentum or collecting a set amount of icons before the timer expires. Gameplay itself is fairly simple – Gemma’s able to jump over and slide under obstacles, and use trampolines and giant air fans to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. The aim is to ensure Gemma gets from A to B before an ever-present on screen timer expires. Upon reaching her destination, Gemma is given rating from A+ to F given dependant of how quickly she got there. If you’re struggling with a mission or constantly achieving high marks, the game will encourage you to adjust the difficulty setting in the main menu.
There are some simple combat elements, with Gemma using either a flying or sliding kick to take out her rivals. Collectables can be found throughout the levels, which can be used as a sort of in-game purchase in between levels. Recycle logos, or “junk”, can be used against TLC (which helps to re-energise Gemma when she’s feeling tired) and new outfits (Threads). QR code logos can be used to unlock Swag – game mods and concept art amongst others. Spiral-like objects give Gemma an invincibility of sorts called “Hyper”, which generally lasts until she loses momentum.
The game’s story is portrayed in a comic book style, with static windows and speech bubbles; in-game static images of Gemma and whoever she’s speaking with pop up at the bottom corners of the screen, with speech bubbles conveying the conversation. Load screens in between levels are relatively short, and offer fortune cookie-like pearls of wisdom from the friends and family members that Gemma encounters throughout the game. Text for menus and sub-menus are presented in a neon pink and blue graffiti font.
Ninja Pizza Girl’s graphics are decent enough, but at the same time wouldn’t seem out of place on a smartphone. Gemma and her adversaries are well animated for the most part, and the surroundings are suitably dark considering the dystopian setting (aside from neon signs and oil drum fires). When Gemma enters Hyper mode action enters bullet-time to signify it’s been achieved; a trail of rainbows follows Gemma for as long as it’s active, which in turn makes the environment considerably brighter. As Gemma tires, she becomes slower and the colours become washed out. Pampering Gemma in the TLC sub-menu not only re-invigorates her, but also brings colour back into the world.
The in-game soundtrack is a pumping Techno / dance beat, which helps getting the adrenaline flowing. Dependant on your taste in music, the music can quickly become repetitive, and I found I was able to concentrate on the game with the music turned all the way down. There’s an almost total lack of vocal performances, save for the laughter of the enemy when Gemma falls or is knocked down.
Ninja Pizza Girl is good fun while it lasts, with the main campaign’s six chapters taking about an hour or two to complete. A speedrun option and the mods available give the game a little longevity, but it doesn’t have all that much to draw anyone other than completionists back in after you’ve finished the story. The game has a few character animation glitches, as more than once Gemma froze in mid-air when jumping or getting back to her feet when she had been knocked down; however, bear in mind the game was developed by an incredibly small indy studio.
I’m sure that Ninja Pizza Girl will appeal to younger gamers – with its cool themes, font style and terminology that older gamers may see as trying a little too hard to be “down with the kids”. I liked that Disparity Games gave the story an anti-bullying theme, with Gemma being mocked for being poorer than the MegaCorp ninjas, and eventually overcoming her tormentors. If you want a couple of hours of easy, pick up and play gaming, Ninja Pizza Girl is worth a look – especially if there are any younger gamers in your household.