With trademark ‘tongue-in-cheek’ humour and impressive gameplay and graphic’s, Lego Ninjago sets out to capture the magic of the franchise for the handheld gamer. Will it knock the competition for six with a high impact ‘crane kick’? Or will it merely knock itself out with a mis-timed rice flail to the noggin? Let’s find out as we take a trip to feudal Japan with Warner Brothers Lego Ninjago
Right from the word go with Lego Ninjago players will be welcomed into the latest title with the same well presented graphic’s that feature in the opening sequences of all Lego games. Indeed it now comes almost as a given that the cut scenes, and cinematic’s of the long-established franchise, are an absolute high point in the games with some amusing slapstick comedy played out with perfect timing by the lovable plastic populous. But from here on in players soon discover that Lego Ninjago is a different beast altogether than the vast majority of its predecessors such as Lego Harry Potter and Lego Indiana Jones.
Set out as a real-time strategy title, as opposed to the all action puzzlers of its older siblings on the consoles, Ninjago is still, nevertheless, vintage Lego with great animation, settings and storyline that make the adventure as enjoyable as any of its larger family members.
The tale behind the Warner Bros title is your typical saga of troubled times in feudal Japan with rival faction’s warring for the provincial riches that will come once they have rid their opposite numbers from the equation. In the red corner we have the games bad guys, ( Booo! _Ed. ), known to all as the ‘Skulkin Warriors’. Feared by peasant and Prince alike, these dashing bandits seek to control the entire region in their campaign for power and prestige as they wage bitter war with all they come across in their quest for dominion over the downtrodden villagers.
In the blue corner, however, stand the proud and secretive race of warriors that are sworn to protect the brow beaten population, The legendary Spinjitzu heroes that draw gasps of awe inspired disbelief wherever they go. These warriors are sworn to protect the people, and to uphold the law in the true and traditional honourable way as passed down to them through the ages by their heroic ancestors,. Fearsome fighters they will ask for no quarter, nor will they offer any, as they bid to rid the region of the blight that are the murderous thugs of the Skulkin Warriors.
At the heart of this battle are four magical weapon’s with incredible powers, and the struggle to control them between two feuding brothers. The younger fights for Spinjitzu, and the elder evil sibling for the dreaded Skulkin Warriors. Banished by his younger brother for attempting to control all four weapons the elder statesman of the family household is sent into exile, but returns as Lord of the Underworld in a fresh bid to claim the mysterious weapons and end the reign of the Spinjitzu clan.
Players are able to approach the game from both standpoints, in that you can tackle the title from the point of view of the Spinjitzu heroes or the villainous Skulkin Warriors. So strap on your armour and get those leg muscles warmed up as you front kick your way through swathes of enemy forces on the road to be crowned Lord of Spinjitzu.
Graphically the game is great to look at, and as previously stated the cut scenes do justice to the Lego series by following the high quality rules of the much-loved franchise. The top down angle gives players plenty of scope to survey the combat zones and plan battle strategies and defences, but it also allows a better outlook for when building protective measures for the harassed villagers in your care.
Gameplay is your staple diet of Real Time Strategy with players getting to plot and plan, as well as construct and conspire as they seek to control as much territory with as little loss to life and limb as possible. There are still all your firm Lego favourites in there for fan’s of the long running series to enjoy, with the collection of Gold Coins, Red Brick’s and Mini Kits playing a vital role in the games’ success. As with other Lego titles players are still required to acquire as many coins as they can along the way to allow them to earn the ‘True Ninja’ ratings at the end of each chapter.
Players will also unearth the Lego Shop from the central hub that is presented as a courtyard, with the ‘shops’ and ‘stalls’ set out around the cobbled area playing host to the Battle Room, Lego Shop and Options Stall. In this zone you will discover way’s to earn higher points tallies from stud collection objectives and the hording of gold coins, and in the Lego Shop players are encouraged to purchase everything from map’s and characters to some great concept art and mini-movies.
There are also a whole host of cracking modes to keep gamers entertained once they have entered the Battle Room. Inside these hallowed hall’s are some top-notch selections of mini-games from Brick Race’s, Capture The Flag, Annihilation, Survival and Goliath right through to such amusing sections as the King of the Hill rounds.
With around 30+ characters for gamers to unearth, unlock and acquire there is just so much to do in Warner Bros’ spectacular martial arts marvel that the first play through of this handheld delight is likely to run into the weeks and months, as opposed to the usual fare of mere hours and day’s with the portable platforms’ titles.
Characters may well have special powers or abilities such as the young Spinjitzu masters command of spell’s, whereas others rely mainly on their intellect to solve problems in contrast to the brute strength and swordsmanship of some of the characters.
All in all Ninjago has surprised and dumbfounded the review team here at GamesMediaPro once again with the amount of quality gameplay that they have managed to cram into a Lego title. Graphically the game is a s good as anything that you may wish to compare it with on the Nintendo DS, but it is with the amount of corking gameplay that Lego Ninjagooutshines its rivals. Will people enjoy it? Undoubtedly, what’s not to like? Great visuals with a depth of gameplay that many consoles would lose out to if lined up against the stunning Warner Bros title.
Graphics: Easy on the eye and very manageable on the small screen of the Nintendo DS. Players will marvel at the cut scenes and be lost in the gameplay as they get sucked into the atmosphere of Lego Ninjago. The backdrop’s and location’s are in perfect harmony with the period and gamers will soon get to grips with the easy recognition of the characters. Lego Ninjago is a shining example of what can be achieved on the NDS. 8
Gameplay: As always with a Lego title, from Warner Bros, Ninjago has demonstrated that the series will not be beaten for the sheer amount of gameplay that is contained within its quality coding. There is just so much going on in Lego Ninjago that gamers will be enjoying all that the title has to offer long after any other game would have been completed. Easy to understand menu’s with control’s that handle as simply as 1-2-3. There is nothing in the game that would deter a first time player of the franchise from picking up the NDS, and its stylus, and jumping straight into the gameplay, such is the ease with which the titles’ control system can quickly become second nature. Fantastic stuff. 9
RePlay Value: With the staggering range of activities, objectives, collectibles and mini games that are contained with Lego Ninjago it is seriously doubtful that players will discover all that this game has to offer, even on their second or third play through. Add to that then the fact that you can do it all over again playing through the game as the opposite faction to your original team, and you add yet more longevity to an already impressively long life span for this handheld haven of Heavenly gaming. 10
Presentation: Once again Warner Bros and Lego have managed to create an inspirational title that surpasses even the most outlandish expectations of fan’s of the franchise. Ninjago bring’s all the high quality action and amazing gameplay from the series’ console based titles and transports them seamlessly across to Nintendo’s portable platform. Inoffensive visual’s coupled with family fun time frivolity make Lego Ninjago a title that players from all walks of life, and indeed all age groups, a game that they can enjoy time and time again. Familiarity breeds success in this instance as Warner Bros and Tt Games produce one of the best handheld titles of 2011. 9