Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Format Played: PlayStation 4
Platforms: PC, PS4 (played), Xbox One, Switch
Released: September 22, 2017
Copy supplied by publisher

When I heard a LEGO Ninjago movie was being made, I knew it was only a matter of time before the video game was announced. I think it goes without saying, but we’re talkin’ about one of the most popular kids’ shows on television. A team of ninjas that fight evil using martial arts, weapons and elemental powers – sounds pretty cool to me!

Overall, I found the game lighthearted, colorful and ultimately, an entertaining experience. There were times when I got annoyed with how simple and uneventful aspects of the story were, but like I said before, it’s a kids game; it wasn’t intended to challenge a 30-year-old man. With that in mind and given the innovations developer TT Games has made, LEGO Ninjago is worth a once-through for any fan of LEGO gaming franchise or fans of the TV show.

Here are my thoughts on the game and why I think you’ll probably enjoy it:

Characters 

The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game (man, that’s a mouthful) has 101 playable characters, complete with different skills and actions. Yes, some are extremely similar, but for the most part, TT Games has done an excellent job creating and developing unique personalities and abilities. In order to beat the game, you’ll have to use and unlock all 101 characters to reach the illustrious 100% completion, but for the most part, these seven characters will be your bread and butter:

Lloyd Garmadon – Green Ninja

Affiliation – Secret Ninja Force

Weapon – Sword

Element – Mast of Energy and at one time, possessed the Golden Power

Lloyd is the Green Ninja and leader of the secret ninja force that protects Ninjago. He also happens to be the son of the main antagonist, Garmadon. Fortunately, that also makes him the nephew of Master Wu and grandson to the First Spinjitzu Master – the creator of Spinjitzu and all of Ninjago. Personally, I found Lloyd’s combination of attacks and combos to be a little OP, so I decided to use other characters to challenge myself.

Kai – Red Ninja

Affiliation -Secret Ninja Force

Weapon – Katana (dual)

Element – Master of Fire

Prior to being taught Spinjitzu from Master Wu, Kai worked as a blacksmith in his father’s shop. He’s loyal and outgoing and also happens to be Nya’s older brother. I really enjoyed Kai’s attack combos, and those dual-wielding Katana’s were a blast. I guess the draw back of Kai’s character is that he’s the last to master his elemental ability. Other than that, Kai is easily one of the most enjoyable characters to play with.

Zane – White Ninja

Affiliation -Secret Ninja Force

Weapon – Bow and Arrow

Element – Master of Ice

While he is human, Zane is also part Nindroid (Android). He reminds me a lot of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. He’s logical, to the point, and has a difficult time understanding things like emotions and sarcasm. I found Zane’s bow and arrow to be the most difficult to get the hang of, but that only made me want to use him more. The other ninjas’ attacks and combos are simple; Zane’s step things up a notch.

Cole – The Black Ninja

Affiliation – Secret Ninja Force

Weapon – Giant Hammer

Element – Master of Earth

Cole is actually the first ninja to learn and master his elemental ability in the video game. His combination of the giant hammer and attacks are incredibly fun. I found myself using Cole more than any other, in large part because that hammer was so damn destructive. When it came to clearing out a swam of enemies, Cole was my guy.

Jay – Blue Ninja

Affiliation – Master of Lightning

Weapon – Spiked Nunchuck

Element – Master of Lighting

Jay is a member of the Secret Ninja Squad and Master of Lightning, by far the coolest elemental ability in the game. The way his character interacts with the environment is a blast. Not only that, his nunchucks make for some pretty incredible combos as well. Much like Nya, Jay’s elemental ability is the key to multiple secrets and unlockable content.

Nya – The Water Ninja

Affiliation – Secret Ninja Force

Weapon  – Spear

Element – Master of Water

Nya is the kid sister of Kai, and formally fought for justice under the alter ego Samurai X. She’s a competitive and confident women with a flair for the dramatic. While I found her weapon slightly boring, I did enjoy her attack combos. Couple that with mastery of water and you’ve got yourself a solid character.

Master Wu – Teacher

Affiliation – Ninja and Spinjitzu Master

Weapon – Nin-Jo

Element – Creation

Master Wu is a wise old man responsible for bringing the Secret Ninja Force together. He’s the brother of Lord Garmadon and son of the Spinjitzu Master. During the game, you really don’t get much opportunity to use Wu, he’s more of a voice in the sky kind of character, guiding the Ninja’s throughout. During freeplay mode, I began using him because he reminded me of Raiden from Mortal Kombat.

Lord Garmadon – Villain

Affiliation – Ninja and Spinjitzu Master

Weapon – Nin-Jo

Element – Destruction

Lord Garmadon was once known as Master Garmadon, before being bitten by The Great Devourer and possessed by evil. He’s the bother of Master Wu and first son to the Spinjitzu Master, creator of Ninjago. He’s also happens to be the father of Llyod, the Green Ninja. While he is the villain, some regions require you to play with Garmadon, which was a blast. His combos are simple but fun. and his elemental power and weapons make for a really engaging gameplay experience. I found myself enjoying his character as much as I did Cole.

Story

As someone who knows very little about LEGO Ninjago, I thought the story was very entertaining but very clearly targeted towards a much younger demographic. If you’ve got kids that love the show or movie, I’d suggest giving the game a go. It’s got a clever plot, the fighting mechanics are simple and best of all, it’s has two player co-op, a staple of the LEGO games.

I knew very little about the source material prior to playing the game, so learning about Secret Ninja Force and their training was lightheartedly entertaining. Come to think of it, it sort of had a Power Rangers meets Pet Patrol feel; only in this case, there’s a much funnier plot and the dialogue actually fits the tone.

The story follows a team of secret ninja warriors, Llyod, Kai, Cole, Kya, Zane and Jay, who have been chosen to protect Ninjago from evil, like Lord Gargamon and his Shark Army. With the help of Master Wu, the warriors will learn to master their powers and take down all that seek to harm Ninjago.

While it may sound weird, I found the dynamic between Gargamon and Lloyd to be particularly intriguing. I mean, the whole my dad is evil bit has been been done before, but for some reason, I ate it up. Despite wanting to defeat Gargamon, there was that part of me that wanted to see him win.

Gameplay

Many of the previous entries in the LEGO game series have been very one note, but the LEGO Ninjago game tries to things in some new directions. TT Games decided to change the way story mode was played, breaking it down into regions rather than linear chapters. Once you complete a region, you’re free to go back to any previous level and play it again, using free play mode. In the past you’d have to replay the entire story – who has time for that?

I also really enjoyed the change they made to stud collection. Rather than having your stud clear after every level or region, your studs collect throughout, as seen in the picture below. Once the bar fills, you level up, making your characters stronger and on occasion, unlock characters that allow you to uncover other hidden gems. It’s very similar to Pokemon Go’s leveling system, but way, way cooler.

And last but not least, the improved combat and fighting mechanics. The LEGO games have been feeling a little stale in this department for some time, but Ninjago attempts to inject some fun into the proceedings. For starters, you’re able to combo from one enemy to another, which is even more fun than it sounds. You’re also able to string massive attacks together, sending your enemy into the air, as you combo the hell out of him. I think my longest combo was 87 – if you can top that, take a screenshot and post it in the comments!

Graphics

In comparison to LEGO’s other games, the graphics in Ninjago were outstanding. For starters, the ability to use cut scenes from the film really added to the experience. They were very sharp and colorful, but beyond that, not that much better than previous installments.

In all fairness, I did feel like the graphics during the fight sequences and during the giant robot battles were excellent. The battle were always extremely busy, but I didn’t lose track of anything.

I do have to admit, as silly as it sounds, I was bummed out by how boring the menus were. I understand they’re just menus, but when you have such an extensive list of characters, you’d think they would have given you better viewing options, rather than adding them to your team and testing them first hand. Sometime it’s nice to compare character stats directly, but there was no option for this.

Overall, I can’t harp on the graphics too much. Other than the subpar menus, the game looks stellar. Each region had a vibrant and detailed background, which added to the playing experience. Realistically, it’ll look excellent on whatever TV you’re rocking.

Longevity

When it comes to LEGO games, I think it goes without saying, but longevity is defiantly one of the series’ weakest aspects. It took me all of 6-7 hours to beat the game. Granted, I finished with a only 45% completion rate, but in fairness, I was trying to finish quickly. Plus, it only took me another hour in freeplay to get to about 74%. And at that point, I felt obligated to reach 100%.

That said, I did enjoy the additional modes outside of the traditional adventure – a very smart idea. Hypothetically, if you’re stuck on a level (which is pretty much impossible), you can switch over to the Challenge Dojos, a mode that allows you unlock things by completing in the combat arena. In a nice touch, beating these mode grants you medals and other special rewards. While it’s disappointing to see that LEGO Ninjago isn’t as deep an experience as some prior LEGO titles, there’s something to be said for games that you can actually realistically beat, rather than having to pour countless hours into them. Besides, these are the kind of games that are meant to beat, that’s why we play them. You don’t have to pour countless hours into it.

How It Measures Up

At this point LEGO has made a tremendous amount of games and while LEGO Ninjago isn’t the best, it’s certainly not the worst. If anything, the game made improvements in areas that will likely be replicated by all LEGO inspired games to come. For starters, the battling style, more importantly the combos, were incredible. Being able to string and combo attacks together at such a high level was surprisingly fun. It made me feel like I was playing Dragon Ball Z, which is never a bad thing.

I’d also like to note that the film cut scenes were everything, they really added to the story and often came at a time when you’d spent the last 20 minutes button mashing, so the break was appreciated. Despite that, I still feel like LEGO Star Wars and Marvel Superheroes are the superior games. They weren’t as rushed and the stories were much more intriguing. Also, it’s hard to compete with properties like Star Wars and Marvel – just sayin’.

Overall 

Overall, I thought the LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game fun and enjoyable, but I can’t shake how underwhelming the whole experience felt. I understand that the source material is targeted at a much younger audience, but the game coasted on a weak story and when it came time for a boss, it was so easy I felt cheated. That said, once I beat the game, I went back and finished up previous regions. To my surprise, I found it quite challenging, which forced me to see the game in a new light. I also gained a stronger appreciation for the graphics and level of detail put into every character, challenge and region. TT Games did an excellent job; I only wish they put more effort into the story and made the game slightly more difficult.

At the end of the day, the changes TT Games made to the freeplay mode, stud collection and most of all, combat, makes up for how rushed the game felt. Which is why, despite its flaws, I’m still giving it a recommendation, especially for fans of the TV show, LEGO games or ninjas in general – it’s worth it!

We’d also love to hear from you, so be sure to let us know your thought of the game, movie and our review, in the comments below. Cheers!

7
Good
A lighthearted, colorful and entertaining experience that fans of LEGO games and/or the Ninjago franchise will go nuts for.