The LEGO Ninjago Movie Videogame is incredibly short and a bit rough around the edges, but the new combat system makes it one of the best LEGO games in ages.
When I was first started out writing about video games I wrote the definitive list ranking all 19 LEGO video games out at the time. Since 1997 I’ve been playing LEGO games and I wasn’t going miss out on LEGO Ninjago. After thoroughly enjoying the movie last week (there’s a blink and you miss it Scientology gag that made me tear up laughing in the theatre) I was very excited to get my massive paws on the new game. I’d highly suggest watching the movie before playing as the game does follow the movie very closely and will spoil a lot of the big scenes. Think of the game as dessert for those that can’t get enough ninja action in their life.
The game consists of 8 story chapters that focus on the plot of the movie. Lloyd, the green ninja, and his ninja pals are the unofficial defenders of Ninjago City, think of it as a cross between Tokyo meets Hawaii. The city is under attack by the evil Lord Garmadon, aka Lloyd’s dad (GASP) and his army of minions. Lloyd tries to save the day but ends up making the whole situation worse, angering his friends and sending them on a journey for them to realize their true power and save the day.
For a game only announced three short months ago this game is pretty impressive. My one HUGE gripe with it is that it doesn’t seem to be optimized for handheld mode on the Switch so reading text is extremely difficult. Fonts appear blurry and I strained my eyes to read the menus. It’s fine in docked mode, but for someone like me who prefers handheld, ode I hope developer TT Games fixes this in the future.
What makes Ninjago stand out is the incredible combat system. At the start of the game, you’re treated to a combat tutorial that will show you all the new moves you can do including throwing enemies up into the sky and flying after them to cut them down. It’s incredibly fun and so refreshing.
Enemies actually learn your movement patterns so you can’t just spam a single attack. You need to link moves with the new combat system. The bigger the combo, the more studs you acquire. This fighting system is made for fun and much better than the previous games. After so many LEGO entries the combat system had become stale so I welcome this change with open arms. For the love of god if we get a LEGO Dimensions 2 please bring this system over. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.
Another big change that we haven’t seen since 2005’s LEGO: Star Wars is the per-level stud collecting requirement. Woohoo! Instead of the per-level stud meter, there’s a multi-leveled meter that follows the player throughout the game. Fill the meter up and you earn a stud-collecting rank, a gold brick and some parts for the game’s custom character creator. It’s a really cool change.
Studs are also no longer needed to unlock new characters. In previous games (LEGO Marvel I’m looking at you) you needed a ridiculous amount of studs to unlock all the characters. Now when players discover new characters and can play as them immediately. NICE!
Between the studs and the new combat system, the game feels so rewarding. These are such simple changes but they really help the flow of the game and make it worth the price of admission even for those of you unaware of the Ninjago brand.
Also included is the multiplayer battle arenas where four players can compete in a series of competitive games like capturing the flag and collecting rare items. You can also fight off waves of enemies in a series of dojos.
The story was a bit messy in the movie and it’s extremely messy here. Characters come and go, pieces of the plot are left out, the game starts about 20 minutes into the movie with no real explanation of what’s going on, and it just kind of ends. It’s not very long. I finished the game in a single 3-hour sitting.
Thankfully each of the levels you played through takes place in their own open free-roaming map. After finishing a chapter the player can roam through these huge areas using their new skills and Spinjitsu powers to find all the hidden secrets and new characters.
Some areas can only be unlocked after a certain number of gold bricks are found so always be on the lookout. Each level contains a dojo, hidden characters, a battle arena and gold bricks. There’s plenty to do once the game finishes and with some travel, in my future, I’m going try and go for 100% completion. It shouldn’t be too hard, the game does include a treasure radar.
I really like The LEGO Ninjago Movie Videogame. It’s a really fun refreshing LEGO game that will have me coming back. If you haven’t I highly suggest checking out the movie as well, it’s got a lot of big laughs. Here’s hoping a few of these awesome new features make their way into all future LEGO games. We shall see come November 14th when LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 releases.
Until then, happy building friends.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher on the Nintendo Switch.