LEGO Ninjago: The Videogame (DS) Review
As many people know, I’m beginning to tire of Lego titles, particularly the ones that just seem to keep coming out continuously. Thankfully, when I managed to spend a good amount of time with Lego Ninjago, I was surprised to find it was somewhat different from the adventure style titles, instead taking a more strategic approach. Of course, this means that Ninjago is more of a sequel to LEGO Battles than anything else, which I actually never played. And with that commentary, let me explain to you why I believe LEGO Ninjago is a pretty fun game, despite the fact that it might seem a little bit late to the DS party.
LEGO Ninjago takes place in a time that is almost similar to feudal Japan. Ninjago, a legendary weapon, was created by the masters of Spinjitzu, a martial art in which the user turns themselves into tornados to cause damage to their opponents. The weapon was created using the four ancient weapons of Spinjitzu, which each correspond to a certain element. When the Spinjitzu master passed away, his two sons swore to protect the ancient weapons and ensure they didn’t fall into the wrong hands. Fast forward a couple of years, and one of the brothers has turned to the dark side and of course, it’s up to the player to save the weapons and support the noble brother, or descend to the dark side and help the exiled brother and his raised skeleton army?
LEGO Ninjago utilises a two-dimensional artistic direction that looks like very well put together pixel or sprite art. All the classic staples of LEGO building blocks are present on the sprites, as well as the characteristics of the environment such as trees and bushes. All in all, the game’s spritework is pretty well put together and does a good job at creating a world that feels like it’s legitimately made out of LEGO. The game also employs cutscenes that are very well animated and don’t show any signs of compression either. All in all, the game looks great and is a nice refreshing change from the usual three dimensional modelling in previous LEGO games.
At its core, LEGO Ninjago is a little bit of a mix between the action-adventure titles in the series, while throwing in a large amount of strategy elements akin to older strategy titles like Age of Empires or Total Annihilation. Players can use certain classes to build a small civilisation to create an army to overtake the enemy. The game provides a hub world where the player can either play through the good side of the story, or later on the bad side of the story, with the game being split up into acts for easy tracking of your progress. The missions vary greatly, some of them are as simple as moving a party to a certain area or some are more complex with multi-level objectives.
There are, of course, a few elements that mix things up a bit. Several “hero” characters also possess certain powers that allow them to do large amounts of damage or enchant the party with certain ailments that may increase strength or output of units. Players can also build different structures which serve certain purposes. As you’d probably expect, this is largely something very similar to Age of Empires, and it plays very well with the D-Pad controlling the camera and the stylus being used to command units to move and attack enemies.
There are of course, other modes that the players can move through, but these are only multiplayer modes that require multiple cards. Unfortunately, the game breaks one of my biggest rules with multiplayer, in that the player must unlock certain components in the single player modes before they actually are playable in multiplayer, which is a bit annoying. The game itself is pretty feature packed, feeling like a scaled down RTS game. The dual campaigns are also a nice touch, and all in all the game will take anywhere between 6-12 hours to complete depending on how much you want to explore – as finding certain items unlocks characters to use in multiplayer.
The game’s soundtrack is pretty well put together and features some nice oriental themes that really suit the game’s ancient Asian themes. There are some minor grunts and groans for the game’s voicework that play whenever the players select a key characters, but nothing huge, instead the game opts for dialogue which may put off some younger players.
LEGO Ninjago is a pretty quality title in the LEGO franchise of videogames, which actually does a great job at making a decent real time strategy title that is not only approachable for younger, less experienced players but also for those who are looking for a nice and well put together cute real time strategy.
Great use of sprites and pixel art to create a believable LEGO world. Animations in the cutscenes are top notch.
Great use of the D-Pad and Stylus to control most of the action.
A good collection of ancient sounding oriental tracks really add to the games overall atmosphere.
Theres heaps to do and a bit to collect, but some people may get very bored before they attempt to get to 100%. The dual storyline is a nice touch although it does feel a little like quantity over quality at times.
I was very much enjoying the different perspective that LEGO Ninjago provided in comparison to other games in the series. It was a nice and refreshing experience.
LEGO Ninjago is a very decent real time strategy game that is great and more suited to a younger audience, but older more experienced players may become bored of it quite quickly.