The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game is a Lego-themed action adventure game based on the movie of the same name that follows the story of five Ninjas on a mission to find the “Ultimate Ultimate Weapon” to defeat their archenemy, the evil Garmadon.
Considering the title it isn’t a surprise to learn that The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game is a movie tie-in game, something which we gamers usually stay far, far away from. The opening scene for the game mirrors that of the movie, as do many of the cutscenes throughout the adventure albeit with a few adjustments. The Lego movies employ a stop-motion style animation with CGI and real-life Lego sets which makes the movies feel more authentic and true to the product its based off of; this style translates well into the video-game and even the gameplay sections match the high quality of the CGI cutscenes.
Having watched, and thoroughly enjoyed, the movie, the game serves as an alternative media to enjoy the story of the big screen adaptation which follows a group of novice Ninjas on a quest to stop their archnemesis, Garmadon, from taking over Ninjago City – which he invades on a daily basis – and if you’ve played any other games from the Lego series you’ll pretty much know what to expect from The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game. The latest entry into the blocky series features many of the well-known mechanics from other Lego games; collecting studs, collecting extra characters as well as building contraptions to help move through the levels, with the addition of Ninja based combat and controllable mechs.
As with any Lego game, there are a plethora of characters and unlockables to collect. Most characters have their own special moves and abilities which can be used to access various areas in the hub world during the free-play mode. In total there are over one hundred unlockable characters which will keep even the most tenacious of players busy for a fair while.
While playing the game I found most of the transitions from scene to scene to be flawless with little to no loading times; this is both true for both docked and undocked mode. It is worth noting, however, that the initial loading time when entering a new level can take some time. It’s not something that removed any enjoyment from the game but it’s a point I feel is worth noting none-the-less. With this point being mentioned, I did find that it put me off from playing on the go as much as I would like to but this was more due to a battery life concern of the console itself.
A big improvement I found from many of the other Lego games that I have played in the past is the combat. While this may just be me, I felt that Lego Ninjago combat system worked a lot more fluidly. This may be owing to the fact that the characters now carry weapons, where many of the other games in the series I have played all focused on melee fighting. Each of the Ninjago’s has their own style of fighting as well as their own weapon; aside from needing to use certain characters to solve various puzzles, I found myself sticking to using the same character through a majority of the game; for no other reason other than I prefer their play style.
As players progress through the game they’re presented with special tokens which can be used to upgrade the Ninja’s fighting abilities From gaining more studs from a downed enemy to a larger area of effect for certain movies. It’s by no means a new feature for many games, but I found this to be a pleasant surprise in a Lego title with the developers leaning more toward the Ninja style of combat than your bog standard punching mechanics.
Gameplay wise, I found there were a fair few differences with Ninjago the Move from previous games in the series that I have played. Being a game based on Ninjas the dev team have used this to their advantage allowing players to run up walls, jump from one precarious footing to another as well as aerial combos while during combat. Elevated areas can now be reached by allowing the Ninja to run up or even along a wall for a duration of time (much like Prince of Persia, Lego style) while a number of puzzles may require the player to navigate across larger gaps using flag polls or ledges as footholds.
As with many of the newer titles in the Lego series, Ninjago the Movie is near enough fully voiced. The feature film included a star cast of vocal talents from Jackie Chan (Master Wu), David Franko (Llyod/Green Ninja) and Michael Peña (Kai/Red Ninja) to name a few which were noticeably absent from the video game counterpart. For the most part, I don’t think this is too much of an issue but it does feel a little fractured while trying to pair the two together.
For the most part, I found the game ran fairly smoothly. A few noticeable drops in framerate occurred in both docked and undocked mode but usually when a lot was happening on screen in one go. For the most part, however, I found the game ran pretty well, and apart from the loading times was a real pleasure to play. Completing the game isn’t the be all and end all either, as players are offered the option to return to previous levels in Free Play mode to uncover any hidden items they may have missed during the first run which offers a decent level of replay value.
Overall, I feel that The Lego Ninjago the Movie Video Game – although a bit of a mouthful to say – is a solid entry into the Lego series. The small changes make it even more enjoyable than some of the previous entries in the Lego series but I wouldn’t say they’re enough to fully reinvent the wheel – so to speak. For a movie tie-in game, it’s been done very well and I could certainly suggest it to fans and newcomers alike.