The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 24.10.2017

Review for The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game on PlayStation 4

The Ninjago IP has been going strong for LEGO for around seven years now and was always planned to be a big deal, having been initially released with a TV show to accompany the launch of the sets. Since that first season of TV and toys, it has received numerous others with the world of Ninjago receiving a surprising amount of developments and world building. There has already been a trio of Ninjago games on handheld and mobile but this is a fully-fledged, bigfig scale title being released to coincide with the series' big screen debut. It wasn't really on the radar, though - could this be a quick cash-in to benefit from movie sales, or will it live up to the recent stellar work of Tt Games?

The world of Ninjago has gone through many changes and transformations since its debut - from simple Ninjas to fighting against snake people, against sky pirates, against robotic ninjas and plenty more. This story reproduces the same take as the movie that was recently released in cinemas. Opening on the eccentric and eclectic Ninjago city, this sprawling metropolis is a psychedelic version of Tokyo. Just like the Tokyo it's based on, it too has a looming threat just across the ocean - Ninjago city has to deal with a constant annoyance, as just off the shore of Ninjago City beach is a huge volcano and within it the evil Garmadon makes his lair. The series has been running for some time and there's a huge back-story. Suffice it to say, Garmadon was once a good guy master Ninja and now he's an evil four-armed monster that has an army of fish obsessed minions. Garmadon regularly gathers up these minions and attacks the city, only to be repelled each time by the Secret Ninja Force.

Screenshot for The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game on PlayStation 4

This team of heroes is made up of a ragtag group of Ninjas, led by Garmadon's son Lloyd who has the whole "People don't trust me because my dad is the big bad" thing going on. The team is also being taught by Master Wu who just happens to be Garmadon's younger brother, too. Lots of back-story but it's quickly established in exposition-filled dialogue for the newcomers. Thankfully, the story is genuinely funny, keeping the same tone and comedy styling of The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Movie before that; in the same way that these previous movies successfully aimed at both the kids and the parents in the audience.

Garmadon, then, is attacking once again and he's fought off once more by the Secret Ninja Force in their giant mechs - which are, of course, all available to buy as huge and pricey LEGO sets! He's back in a flash, though; this time with a new mech-proof mech (also available as a set - who wouldn't want a giant Shark/Gundam LEGO?). Lloyd uses a forbidden weapon to unleash MEOWTHRA (this one you can't buy from LEGO; adopt one instead!). This moment alone is worth playing the game for or watching the movie for. The story from here becomes the usual heroes story where the team has to learn a little about themselves, gain magical element powers and save the city with a little redemption arc thrown in for good measure.

Screenshot for The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game on PlayStation 4

What this equates to in the game is eight story chapters to play through and playing through that story takes little longer than watching the film it's based up, but as to be expected, there is plenty to do after the story is over. All of the traits that fans of Tt's games have come to expect are here. There's a mammoth cast of characters to unlock and it's done in a great way - hunting down the same polybag mystery minifigs that are also available to buy in real life and pulling various characters from the series history. Of course, the issue with this huge cast is it doesn't have the same fan base as Marvel or DC and very few people are going to be excited about unlocking yet another version of Lloyd or an evil woman robot ninja or a sushi chef. Players are going to be interested in unlocking them for two things: their special abilities and their combat styles.

The special abilities are a given; this has the same system as all the other LEGO titles - complete a level in story mode, return in free play and switch between characters to find all the secrets that are gated away behind bricks that require special abilities - for instance, using earth powers to smash huge boulders, ice to freeze water to make a path, and so on. It's well done and enjoyable but nothing that hasn't been seen before. It's by the numbers for a LEGO title. The combat, though, that's where this game changes things up, as there is no more mash the attack button and maybe hit the jump button to dodge the incoming blows. Instead, Tt has massively overhauled the combat system and turned it into something much better. There are numerous different attacks and fighting styles, there are special moves, and blocks have to be broken, plus there are big combos allowing for finishers. It's one of those changes that feels like it should have always been this way and now the old combat system feels appallingly worse; hopefully, this is a change that will be seen in other games.

Screenshot for The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game on PlayStation 4

It's not the only change either, although it's the best one; the others range from bad to divisive. The open world has gone back to being broken up into zones, which is not as enjoyable as one mammoth area, and within each of these zones are special stages with side activities. The problem with breaking them up in this way is that the loading screens on the game are horrendously long. A core gameplay aspect has been slightly altered, too; taking away the stud collecting of each stage, no having to rack up stud after stud in each stage to unlock the "True Jedi" or the equivalent for this game. Instead, the bar is still in attendance but fills faster and carries over between stages; it's now a level up bar that unlocks new abilities, gold bricks and figure parts. It's tricky to decide if this is a positive change or not.

Screenshot for The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game is a by the numbers release that feels like it may have been rushed to completion as a side project of Tt while it worked on the upcoming LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 (which can't come soon enough!) and is certainly a little smaller in comparison to its other recent games - with a small story and even the 100% completion clocking in at under 10 hours for most players. That being said, it's still well worth the price tag. The story is funny, the levels well designed and the extra features enough to keep players coming back to get to that 100% without getting burnt out. Best of all, it exhibits some improvements and innovations to the Tt formula that will hopefully be seen in future titles.

Developer

TT Games

Publisher

Warner Bros

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

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