The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game (for a mouthful) is the latest addition to TT Games’s Lego game series. It has some big shoes to fill. Both Jurassic World, Dimensions and Marvel Avengers have done well in the past. The same goes for the film, which has Lego the Movie and Lego the Batman Movie to live up to. It’s like jumping for Wirkola. Or as kids say today: Create a Lets Play for GameGrumps (I know the South, have extremely little contact with kids, ass). It has become an unwritten requirement for the Lego movies and games that they should be as fun, entertaining and charming as the previous ones. Does Ninjago manage this?
At first glance, it’s very easy to say yes. Me and Player 2 get us started and teach us some cool tricks and comrades by Mester Wu before we get unleashed in Ninjago. There is a danger, and we are the only ones who can save the city. Or, I’m really unsure if what we’re doing is actually saving the city, but at least we’ll beat up a whole bunch of enemies. As in the other games and a series of superhero movies, this also causes major damage to buildings, vehicles and food stalls in the same process. Ah, it reminds me of the good old Red Faction days. The arbitrary destruction and fighting is heavenly fun! TT Games has really upgraded its combat system, and using all the different tricks and combo’s is a delight. One of the most surprising and best of all is that the enemies learn from what we do, so it’s no use to just hammer a button. In fact, one should think about it and vary the style of attack. We cheer with great zeal and collect the Lego studs as it lions. We almost do not think it could get any better. Then we get mechs. And Garmedon (today’s villain) sends big mechanical ocean monsters to us …
People, this is the leg version of the Pacific Rim!
Garmedon will of course be defeated at zero zero and we will force his forces back to sea. Everything is joy and gammen. Until the next day when Garmedon is ready to make even more trouble. It’s okay, because we’re certainly not fed up with a fight. We fight ourselves through several levels, rushing through movie sequences, flinging the little talk between the characters, running up and down and crossing across the roofs and walls, salting us through the city, solving riddles, building precise devices and breaking enemies in style. While doing all of this, we go up to level and can upgrade our skillza so we can mow the villains with ENDA more style. But now it’s fun for a while. Let’s talk about something that’s not as good.
The story is a bit like that. We have not seen the movie and neither of us has any relationship with Ninjago, so some of the plot will be a little lost on us. It does not matter anyway, because we have fun. We are entertained by Mester Wu, who is old and somewhat sour, while we are charmed by the pretty lovely villain Garmedon. The humor is #onfleek, as you say on Instagram.
But then Player 2 drops out and I’m sitting to play on my own. That’s when it all starts shaving a bit in the seams. The one spring after the other shows up on what I thought was an impeccable sight. The somewhat locked camera makes it difficult to get an overview of the situation. I spend a lot of time solving simple puzzles and figuring out where the next goal is, simply because I can not see the solution or the way forward. The controls are unpredictable and sometimes clumsy, which means that I often bump into things, run down dumps and attack my friend. The load times are annoyingly long. I’m too old to wait for that! The artificial intelligence is at Forrest Gump level, and without my eminent Player 2, fighting is not fun. The other figure is just there and watching. Hello?! WANT YOU HELP TO? At the same time, when you have to fight in a game that involves flying or aiming (usually at the same time) it is clear that this is only meant for mutant children with chameleon eyes that can see in several directions at once. Every time I get informed, I suddenly fly in a completely different direction. There is a lot of frustrated cabins with the cousin to say that way. I also struggle to distinguish details because the color image is so saturated, and so much is happening that things are drowning a bit. Maybe I need better glasses?
Suddenly it’s all over. I’m watching the clock, not many hours have disappeared while I’ve played. The story feels shocked and rushed, while I do not feel I’ve got a special relationship with either the Ninajgo universe or the characters in it.
Fortunately, there is a lot of replay value in the game. You can unlock new characters which again unlock new areas you can explore. After the story bit is over, you can run around the city in freeroaming mode. You can visit dojoer and try the skillza of all the heart’s desire. So that helps a little. That’s why I’m sitting here and a bit uncertain. Does the Ninjago game have what it takes? It offers lots of fun when playing with others, but everyone quickly becomes clear that the game has its shortcomings. I’m entertained, but not I’m not a hundred percent convinced.