LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Adam Riley 01.04.2015 2

Review for LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin on Nintendo 3DS

"Back once again for the Ninjago-master"? Why the cheesy line for the front page? No reason, but, then again, the humour in the LEGO Ninjago series is so off-the-wall and wacky that anything goes, and it is definitely one of the major plus points of the immensely popular TV series extension of the LEGO brand. The first game dates back to 2011 on the Nintendo DS when the Cubed3 team was blown away by how for LEGO Ninjago: The Video Game (known as LEGO Battles Ninjago in the US) TT Games and Hellbent Games had fashioned a real-time strategy title of a great calibre, rather than plumping for churning out yet another bog-standard LEGO adventure. Hellbent returned for LEGO Ninjago: Nindroids in 2014 but has strangely been benched for this, with TT Games' subsidiary, TT Fusion, taking over the development reins for LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin instead, a new outing exclusively for portables, Nintendo 3DS included.

Having missed out on Nindroids, so not realising the LEGO Battles theme had been dropped for that Ninjago sequel, it was surprising to (slowly) load up Shadow of Ronin and find the action had reverted from the RTS style to the traditional action adventure found in the numerous tie-ins - Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, et al. Nothing wrong with that, it has to be said, since the standard fare is still highly enjoyable, but it would indeed be great to see Hellbent given another crack of the RTS whip with these hilarious characters at some point.

Kai, Zane, Cole, Jay, Lloyd all return, and are just as madcap as usual, somewhat reminiscent of the mix of personas found in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons, except with a deadpan robot added in for good measure. The action is solid and the script is hilarious, all strewn across a wide array of intriguing locales, and tied together by a great world map that is traversed by flying - Secret of Mana style - from place to place. A new evil, said Ronin of game name fame (lame? Yeah, sorry!), has been waving his big piece of equipment around, mesmerising anyone he encounters, causing them to lose all - or, in the case of the Ninja crew, part - of their memories. The dreaded ancient Obsidian Glaive weapon (what was obviously being referred to before…nothing else, honest) is causing chaos, and Ronin's shadowy samurai army is not helping matters either. Thus commences an engaging and fun romp to reclaim the motley bunch's memories and special powers.

Screenshot for LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin on Nintendo 3DS

What is meant by 'standard fare,' though - such a condescending label, right? Well, Traveller's Tales - long since changed to TT Games - has been making LEGO adventures since 2005 when LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game came out on GameCube, Game Boy Advance and a slew of other systems. The same model has been applied to around twenty games over the past decade, sometimes to great effect, other times with less than impressive results.

It is safe to say, though, that LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin definitely falls into the former category, delivering thrills and spills, all manner of interesting (albeit easy) puzzles, and a script that will have even the most serious of gamers cracking a smile at times. The only drawbacks of the 3DS version are the longer than expected load times when starting new stages and the somewhat faded colours (compared to the Vita version, which is eye-poppingly vibrant). Oh, and there was one instance during the review process of needing to restart a level because of a glitch that meant getting stuck behind a blockade that the characters should have been on the other side of. An isolated event, perhaps, but the cause of much head scratching for about 15 minutes trying to figure out what to do, and needing to resort to a video walkthrough to realise it was a glitch and not an epic fail on the player's part.

Screenshot for LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin on Nintendo 3DS

What can be done that makes this so special? Well, each character has its own ability. Spinning (Spinjitzu'ing?) around in a whirlwind is commonplace amongst the gang, and very useful for sucking up bad guys and launching them miles away, whilst basic hand and weapon combat can be unleashed by repeatedly tapping the main action button. However, the best parts come in when individuals are used for their respective moves - be it lifting and throwing large boulders, dropping underwater or tapping into electric systems, fixing electrical equipment, and so on. Then, as progress is made, memories and Obsidian weapons are retrieved, and more elemental moves become available, what was already a great mix of top-down roaming around, smashing anything and everything to gain as many LEGO studs as possible, and taking part in race/flying segues, transforms into something even more exciting. Suddenly the character switching takes on a new life - melting objects, creating large boulders to destroy weak structures, and more. This is on top of the parts where characters must team up to trigger pressure pads simultaneously or even be split up to flick switches in different areas of the current stage.

Screenshot for LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin on Nintendo 3DS

It may have all been done before, but the techniques employed are polished to near perfection. Sadly, though, there is an odd stylus-based addition shoehorned in that frustratingly cannot be skipped - having to build certain key objects merely by dragging a LEGO brick from one side of the screen to the other. It has been done to try and replicate the delight of piecing together real LEGO bricks, but ultimately fails and it is a great relief that these inclusions are few and far between as they serve no entertainment purpose.

Love the Ninja warriors from the LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu TV show? Loved the previous LEGO-filled adventures across various formats? Want to travel to places like the Ice Temple, Toxic Bogs, Chen's Island and even the mountain village of Spinjago where the Ninjas train in the art of Spinjitzu alongside Grand Sensei Dareth and Sensei Wu, all in the name of defeating not only Ronin but other villains like Frankjaw, Master Chen, General Cryptor and Skales? Then be sure to sign up for LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin without delay.

Screenshot for LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Returning to the action adventure mould may be a source of disappointment for those that loved the previous Ninjago real-time strategy slant on Nintendo DS, but LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin takes all of the best elements found in previous LEGO adventures and mixes them together with a hilarious script, some weird and wacky scenarios, an impressive mix of character-based puzzles, and plenty of extras to keep players coming back for more.

Developer

TT

Publisher

Warner Bros

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

jim (guest) 02.01.2016#1

ik vind het een leuk spel!

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I think it was overlooked by many.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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