As a game adaptation of the third mainstream Lego film, you'd expect Traveller's Tales to offer a refined adventure. Thankfully, this action-packed movie tie-in is a delightful experience so grab your katana and let's save Ninjago!
At its core, The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game doesn't differentiate itself much from the dozens of Lego games that TT Games have developed in the past. However, it does feature a much more intricate and fast-paced combat system that makes taking on hordes of enemies very enjoyable. You have an array of abilities that you can use at certain times to maximize the amount of damage that your foes receive. Sometimes, you'll need to use a specific move in order to break an enemy's guard. Taking advantage of your foes' weaknesses then pummeling them with an onslaught of special moves feels just awesome. Thankfully, you can play cooperatively with a friend which makes the gameplay a lot more exciting. Tackling the assortment of bosses with a chum by your side is exhilarating stuff indeed.
Of course, Lego games aren't all about combat and this one isn't either. You'll also need to break and build objects and each member of your ninja squad eventually learns a new ability that can be utilized in certain situations to allow you to progress. For example, freezing a waterfall so you can climb it or sticking a character's katanas into a receptacle to turn it into a lever that opens a door. Some of these situations are so complex that it's as if you're assembling a Rube Goldberg machine. It's all easy to figure out with constant obvious waypoints and highlighted objects guiding you to your next goal. These ninjas are agile little fellows, too, as they can run along walls, swing from certain points, and hop across poles. It's fun stuff that'll surely put a smile on your face.
As expected, the world of The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game is colourful and full of personality. Each environment is bursting with its own distinct flavour whether it's the snow-covered mountains or the darkly-lit volcano area. That being said, no location is as lively as Ninjago city. That place is brimming with friendly faces and fretful folks who are in desperate need of a helping hand. The main cast of ninjas are an eclectic group of memorable characters that feature an all-star voice cast. Whether you're watching them interact in-game or via the cutscenes ripped straight from the film, you're bound to find each one endearing in their own special way.
Although the main campaign will only take a few hours to complete, there are a ton of extra modes and features to enjoy after you finish it. One of the coolest additions is the Battle Arena which lets up to four players compete within a variety of modes. My favourite is one where you claim your opponents' flags by beating them up in order to generate points. On top of this, there are loads of hidden gold bricks and character packs, races, side quests, and optional Dojo Masters that you can challenge to duels. Upon completing the campaign, you can even go on a rampage while destroying the city as giant Kaiju-like monstrosities.
The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game is certainly a fun-filled adventure that gamers of all ages can enjoy together. However, as an experienced gamer, I found the gameplay to get repetitive after playing for a couple hours. There's a lot of variety within the first few chapters of the story as you'll find yourself platforming, fighting, and even flying around in mechs into the screen while shooting enemies via an aiming reticle. After these introductory stages, the campaign unfortunately starts to reuse a lot of the same situations over and over again. The combat begins to feel quite tedious as well. Having to constantly keep an eye on your foes to ensure that you're using the right attacks is interesting at first but it rapidly turns from fun to frustrating.
There are also plenty of technical issues that get in the way of the fun. For starters, the load times can be excruciatingly lengthy. Once it loads and you can actually play; the amount of interruptions is absurd. Whether it's an obvious tutorial screen or a notification that you unlocked something, having to constantly cancel out of these screens interrupts the flow of the gameplay and is very annoying as a result. One problem that makes the gameplay far more convoluted than it needs to be is the busy visuals. At times, you'll have to fight off a selection of foes but the area can be full of NPCs so it's hard to discern who's an enemy or not. The platforming portions also suffer from ambiguity due to visually overcrowded environments. Good thing there are waypoints!
Finally, The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game is currently full of glitches. Seeing characters perpetually spawn on top of death traps (see the gameplay video below) or having the game completely crash is only the beginning. Once, my character got stuck at the bottom of a slide and I could only move him left and right. Eventually, he slid into a wall then spawned back on the level. It's weird stuff.
Even though The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game is full of fun moments that you can enjoy with a pal, constant technical issues and repetitive gameplay hold it back from being the next great Lego game. That said, long-time fans of these blocky video game adventures will surely have a blast in yet another vibrant and memorable plastic world.
- + Classic Lego gameplay that's more action-packed and fun with a friend
- + Colourful world and great characters
- + Lots of extra content to enjoy
- - Core gameplay eventually gets repetitive
- - Visuals are far too busy and confusing
- - Long load times, frequent interruptions, and plenty of severe glitches