Is this a Brit only game?
UK development outfit, Travellers’ Tales (known as TT Games nowadays), has a strong reputation for delivering a vast array of LEGO-themed videogame content, with the recent LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars impressing on the whole, and the upcoming LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game looking set to keep the quality levels high. However, there are some that believe the formula can only be stretched out to a certain point before it grows too stale. Anyone thinking that the latest Nintendo DS release, LEGO Ninjago: The Videogame, is another identikit effort, though, is extremely mistaken. How does a real-time strategy adventure sound?
Sensei Wu fears for the future of his world. He foresees the return of an old adversary. To prepare for the coming battle, he is training young warriors in the ancient and powerful art of Spinjitzu. Players must lead Zane, Cole and Jay to the Dojo, whilst constantly being on the lookout for enemy forces. From there on in, the adventure begins to rapidly unfold, with plenty of variety throughout as they undertake numerous missions with the main objective being to obtain four key Ninja weapons that will help defeat Lord Garmadon.
Players use the D-pad to pan the camera around and the stylus to select a member of the unit (pressing L to deselect). Groups of allies can be highlighted by dragging a box around them and then it is a simple case of tapping an area of your surroundings in order to give the order to move to that location, usually opening up new areas on the map, collecting LEGO buttons along the way, and encountering numerous enemies primed for battle. When it comes to the attack function, simply choose team members, touch the foe you wish them to spar with, and watch as they quickly trot off to do your bidding, with energy levels of each character shown by the health bar above their heads.
Upon completing a mission, there is the chance to either continue on the adventure, or opt to head back into the fray to further explore the region just completed in case any hidden extras have been left lying around. With the general swift speed of characters, doing the latter thankfully does not prove a tiresome exercise. Upon reaching the conclusion of a particular mission, any special awards will be revealed, as will a breakdown of various aspects of gameplay triggered during the action, such as how many LEGO Bricks have been collected, the number of heroes built / destroyed, how many structures have been erected / demolished and spells cast.
There are four main scenarios to play through in single-player mode (and a further four for two players to tackle), each containing six missions that will test planning skills and offer a wide array of objectives within, be it collecting items, reaching certain location, talking to specific people, or merely beating down groups of marauding troops. For those in the dark about how these type of games play, basically your team will be led around by the user until they eventually encounter certain groups of foes, and may well also be inundated with enemy attacks in general further into the adventure, and the idea is that special bricks must be collected to create silos where extra weaponry and fighters can be created in order to help with the fight against the evil and achieve the main objective of each stage. This could pretty much have been called LEGO Starcraft, LEGO Command & Conquer, or LEGO-any-other-popular-RTS for that matter, since its mechanics strongly mimic some of the best entries into the real-time strategy genre.
Gather as many resources as possible in order to build up a strong army of Ninjas that can patrol specific sections of the map, use projectiles to destroy surroundings for collecting more LEGO studs in order to purchase goods from the main hub world, use various spells, or go on full-out attack mode to annihilate the enemy as quickly as you can - there is plenty to do, and whilst the difficulty level seems to wane deeper into the adventure when access to more troops becomes available, plus selecting all units when in a rush can be cumbersome, LEGO Ninjago: The Videogame is a thoroughly fun experience that will appeal to all ages and will hopefully prove to be a good foundation for a future Nintendo 3DS sequel.
Taking all the key elements of the real-time strategy genre and mixing it into the world of LEGO has worked extremely well, with LEGO Ninjago proving to be one of the strongest RTS entries on DS, and makes you wonder why there is no StarCraft or Command & Conquer for the touch-screen platform.
Very basic visuals that make this seem more like a GBA game than a DS one, but the interface works well, everything is nice and clear, plus there are some amazing rendered cut-scenes included to drive the story along.
Some of the sound effects mirror the antiquated graphical approach, yet the tunes used during the main game actually have a certain charm to them, which makes it rather sad there is not more variety. Even the best music grows old when repeated constantly...
Some of the missions may give players a headache due to their team being overwhelmed by the enemy, but on the whole the difficulty level is more ‘moderate’ than ‘truly taxing’ and the longevity is mainly derived from the highly enjoyable two-player options.
LEGO Ninjago: The Videogame is a welcomed change of pace for the long-running LEGO gaming series, yet is not only noticeable for its difference in genre. Hellbent Games and TT Games have teamed up to provide one of the most solid real-time strategy experiences on the Nintendo DS in general.
Is this a Brit only game?
It is the spiritual successor of LEGO Battles on DS, which spydarlee gave 6/10 back in August 2009.