Ninja Pizza Girl (Xbox One) Review

By Nikola Suprak 06.08.2017 1

Review for Ninja Pizza Girl on Xbox One

Ninja Pizza Girl is one of those games that seems to be crying out to be loved. It is clearly a labour of love, made by an actual husband and wife team with the input of their daughter. There are bonus interviews that can be unlocked detailing the design process, the life of the family behind it, and the inspiration of the game itself. It is a wonderfully cosy little package, and one that is about as indie as indie gets. However, in spite of how much someone may want to love the game, it proves very difficult to do so, and every single aspect of the design screams "amateur."

Gemma is the ninja pizza heroine in this tale, delivering pizzas in under a couple of minutes or your money back! She lives in a strange dystopian world where the streets are too congested and the only quick way to get places is to parkour all over the giant buildings that fill the city. Gemma is particularly skilled at it, and uses her amazing powers to bring pizzas places slightly faster than they would get there otherwise. There seems like there would be better uses for her amazing parkour skills, but apparently pizza delivery is a very serious deal in this dystopian world, as a rival pizza company sends out ninjas to tease her because her skills are causing the slightest of slight dents in their profits. Gemma encounters a variety of weird people on the way (and far too many shirtless men), and each chapter tells a unique little story about the people she's interacting with.

The story here is really quite bad, even considering that the game starts from a place of ninjas that want to stop Gemma from delivering pizza. The writing feels like something out of a particularly dumb afterschool special that was aimed to teach concussed monkeys about the dangers of bullying. Things are incredibly saccharine to the point the game needs to come with some sort of advisory for the player to hold on to their eyeballs, because this level of eye rolling is likely to cause them to slip right out of their head. It feels like they're trying to be funny, which they fail spectacularly at, and, honestly, Ninja Pizza Girl is very painful to read at times. It is like a cringe compilation came to life and became a video game, and there is no part of the writing here that is remotely interesting. They try to tackle some important issues, but they do it so clumsily that it is hard to care about anyone in the game.

Screenshot for Ninja Pizza Girl on Xbox One

The actual gameplay feels a bit like a mix between Bit.Trip Runner and Mirror's Edge. There is a big dystopian city that needs to be jumped around and climbed over, and the controls to do so are very basic. Particularly in the early levels, the controls are simple, and all that needs to be done is to jump or slide at the right time to get over or under obstacles. Eventually, this opens up a bit, and the skills can be used in a couple of different ways. Sliding can get under long barriers or be used to trip up enemy ninjas, while jumping can be used to hop on the heads of enemies or break certain planks blocking Gemma's progress.

It is a very basic sort of setup here, and there is some occasional fun to be had from running through the levels. The entire game can be completed in an afternoon, and there isn't much challenge to most of the stages. Level design as a whole is not that well thought out, and they never really get around to introducing any sort of interesting ideas to the platforming. There are just a lot of bad design choices here; things put in that don't particularly make sense for what they seem to be going for in the gameplay. Enemies will come out of literally nowhere, hiding behind boxes the player can't possibly hope to see their first time through.

There is something to be said about taking time to perfect a level and learn all of its tricks, but this isn't an example of that. This is pulling the rug out from the player at random times and forcing them to remember where it happened in future playthroughs. Nothing controls as sharp as it should, which is sort of a huge deal in a platformer like this. Things feel a bit floaty and the controls are not as fun as they should be. In a game of this type, controls need to be perfect and the level design needs to be clever, and they fall far short of both of these goals.

Screenshot for Ninja Pizza Girl on Xbox One

Part of the reason the levels feel so poorly designed at times is because they insist on putting in multiple levels to allow for exploration in order to hide various goodies around the level. Most levels have between 15 and 20 things to collect, which can be used to buy new outfits or other things in the store, and if there is anything a speed game like this is ill suited for, it is wandering around a level to find collectibles. It just wasn't a well thought out concept, and sort of shows that the people developing this didn't have much of an idea as to what they were doing. There is no reason to throw these things in, and even less of a reason to put in multiple paths.

It sounds like it could be a good idea, throwing out multiple ways forward to give people an option as to how to get through the level - but it winds up turning the difficulty all the way down because there is now almost no way to fail. Fall down a gap in most games and it is time to start things over, but here the player just falls down to the next level and things continue uninterrupted. There are obviously faster ways to get through the level, but the minor deviations allow for minimal exploration, while at the same time completely turning down the difficulty to the point that now completing any of the levels feels trivial.

Screenshot for Ninja Pizza Girl on Xbox One

There are a couple of exceptions here, but for the most part all the levels are about getting to the end as quickly as possible. This is meant to be a speed game, giving players a timer in the story mode to finish under and unlocking a speedrun option as each level is completed. People who enjoy speedrunning might get some fleeting enjoyment from this, as there are plenty of little optimisations in levels to keep players coming back and attempting to improve their times. It is essentially just moving left or right, with an occasional wall jump to get up to the next level, though, and as mentioned previously, the controls are not nearly tight enough to really draw in the competitive speedrunning crowd. This isn't even just an opinion - at the time of writing this, the number of people posting times on most levels is around ten. There simply aren't enough ideas here, and the ones they have are bad. Ninja Pizza Girl does do a good job of introducing new types of obstacles at a regular pace to keep things fresh, but beyond that there is very little positive to say about the gameplay.

The visuals are almost just impossibly bad, and this is the kind of game that looks like it belongs in the early PlayStation era of gaming. This goes beyond simply being bad; the game is downright ugly. The in-game graphics look like they are a work in progress that never got finished. Then there are the cutscene graphics, which are hand drawn, possibly by someone that was experimenting with drawing for the first time. This is the kind of art that would get you kicked out of a middle school art class, and the characters here look absolutely atrocious. It isn't just the art itself, which is bad enough, but the aesthetic here is about as dull as it can be. All the levels blend into each other, the same sort of bland generic buildings making up the backdrops of every level from the first to the last. Visuals by themselves aren't enough to sink a good game, but here it helps to reinforce just how amateurish the whole production feels.

Screenshot for Ninja Pizza Girl on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

There is sadly almost nothing to like about Ninja Pizza Girl. It looks and plays like a low effort tech demo, something that would come packaged on one of those old demo discs for a game that had been in development for maybe a weekend. It is obvious a lot of effort went into the game based on the interviews they include in the bonus content, but sadly effort does not always translate into quality. Featuring atrocious visuals, an abysmal story, and dull gameplay, this is a perfect combination of bad that should be thoroughly avoided if at all possible. If this game were an actual pizza, it would be a can of expired tomato sauce smeared across a Pop Tart. Ninja Pizza Girl is so bad it ruins both ninjas and pizza, which should be impossible.

Developer

Disparity Games

Publisher

Disparity Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

Comments

HEATHEN! Pineapple pizza's are awesome, especially when combined with ham! Spinach is, unquestionably, the worst! Course either would be bad if delivered by a ninja pizza girl.

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