The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game Review
LEGO games have been around for a long time and have been released on almost every modern video game system imaginable, from the iPhone to the Xbox One and everything in between. When the Nintendo Switch launched in March of 2017, everyone knew it would be the perfect system for Travelers Tales LEGO games, and so far, they haven’t disappointed with the release of LEGO Worlds and now the LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game. LEGO Ninjago is much like previous LEGO licenced titles, but with one major twist: improved combat that suites a Ninja lifestyle!
Just Like the Movie
If you’ve seen the LEGO Ninjago Movie, you are in familiar territory as the game follows the same plot line as the movie! Through the levels, and cut scenes direct from the movie that pull the playable parts together, the game plays out in a fairly predictable fashion, harnessing the humour from the Ninjago Movie and the TV show. On a lengthy road trip to Florida, my son was constantly laughing in the back seat, having a great time interacting virtually with all the Ninjago characters.
If You’ve Played LEGO, You Are In Familiar Territory
Everything from previous LEGO licenced titles is present here again in LEGO Ninjago. You will need to collect a specific number of studs in each level, as well as find all the miniature build pieces. Each level will have a number of Gold bricks you can earn, all of which will get you closer to that 100% completion. Running through each level likely will only take you 10-15 minutes, but you could easily spend more than 30 minutes if you are hunting down for all the extras.
Like all other LEGO games, you’ll need to replay levels at least twice if you hope to unlock all of their secrets, as you will need the abilities and powers of characters you will unlock along the way. There are enough changes here to make this feel a bit different, highlighted by the Ninjanuity Tokens which can be used to upgrade your characters abilities, as well as provide stud bonuses for killing enemies, and more. It’s somewhat similar to what we’ve all played before, but a bit different.
The open world in LEGO Ninjago does exist, but not like past titles. Instead, the world of Ninjago is broken up into multiple areas and unfortunately, the loading screens when moving from one to the next is sometimes excruciatingly long. Since Traveler’s Tales has been doing this for so long, I’m a bit confused by the new world structure. However, if compared side-to-side with other franchise LEGO titles, there may be more detail packed into this one. It sure does look that way, especially during heavy combat sequences.
All New Combat
In previous LEGO games, outside of boss fights, taking down enemies was as simple as mashing the attack button until you drained their three hearts. Unless you became swamped by enemy minifigures, combat was NEVER a challenge in previous titles, nor was it the focal point of the experience. In LEGO Ninjago, however, it most definitely is, highlighted by the opening prologue were you will learn combos that will aid in your future battles.
Combos, something not seen fleshed out in LEGO games before, is at the forefront of the action here. You’ll learn a variety of moves, ranging from quick dashes and slashes that will quickly deal with ground enemies, to jumping attacks that will aid in the destruction of flying vehicles, to a special move that will allow you to hit and enemy multiple times, lifting him or her farther and farther from the ground. For the most part, it works really well, and getting crazy combos will be the key to collecting enough studs in each level to earn that extra Gold Brick.
Another great addition to the LEGO Ninjago title is the inclusion of Dojo’s, where you will fight wave after wave of enemies. If you are looking to perfect your combat techniques, taking on the dojos is a great way to perfect your moves! Oh, and they are a ton of fun as well, as most wave-based gameplay modes are!
LEGO Still Working out the Kinks
Traveler’s Tales and Warner Bros. have been at this LEGO game for a long time; unfortunately, they still are having troubles brining a 100% completed product to the market. The issue with LEGO Ninjago? Multiple frame rate drops is the most noticeable, but also the fact that, despite being based on the movie, the levels that you actually play are not blended together well with cinematics pulled from the movie. With great material to pull from – and I’ll say this here, the movie is FANTASTIC – you would have thought the story within the game would be equally as good. Unfortunately, it just isn’t, and might actually be a disappointment to those who have seen the movie.
There is enough new to the LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game to make the game a bit different from other LEGO titles, so if you are worried you are getting more of the same with a new façade, no worries here. The combat itself is great, and a huge difference from the button mashing of past LEGO titles. Trying to get as many studs as possible through combos has added an extra challenge for older gamers, making this title a great one to play cooperatively with your kids, as I quickly found playing with my seven year old.
If you are looking for more LEGO fun, or are a huge fan of LEGO Ninjago, don’t look any further than this title. Despite it’s issues, it is still one of the better LEGO video games ever made!