NINJAGO city is under perpetual attack by the Evil Lord Garmadon and his aquatic themed legion of baddies, the Green Ninja Lloyd and his buddies are set to defend the city and learn their Spinjitsu special moves along the way! Yes if you have seen the movies you will recognise this plot, it is the story told in the movie but in brief form over 8 chapters.
If you have not seen the movie then you will naturally have missed quite large sections, being a game only the highlights of the story are played out here in the form of cutscenes from the movie, the major points are here including the real life cat, Master WU and the bombshell that Garmadon is Lloyd’s dad!
The audio production is ok, suitable Ninja style music is used in the game along with a few funny audio clips and the sound effects are decent but have a strange muffled quality to them. Sadly the voice actors are not those used from the movies and in fact do sound quite different, this is a shame considering the cut scenes are used. Having said that though the voice acting is well done and is used throughout the game outside of cutscenes with some quirky lines that had me giggling.
Coming straight out of the movies the cut scenes are gorgeous and really show off the action at key points. Ninjago is a unique LEGO plot and one of the nice parts to the game is that it fleshes the world out past the film, the map is set over a number of different parts of the city that do all feel unique and are well mapped out. The main characters, enemies and area use the same graphics as other recent LEGO action titles like LEGO Dimensions which is to say they are fine but not particularly great.
As one of the lesser LEGO worlds and not a large franchise in its own right I had fears that the gameplay would add nothing new and I am pleased to say I was wrong.
Like other LEGO action style games you are plodding along on rails collecting studs, defeating enemies and unlocking areas and items but the action is significantly better here as you have a set of moves to learn complete with a skill tree and combos, enemies will dodge and you will have to mix up your moves in order to take them down. You have a number of different moves with suitably badass names like Rushing Boar and Floating Butterfly and can also dodge and roll. This deviation from the norm has to be put into perspective – this is no finely crafted hack and slash but it does make for a nice entry for younger players into action games and provides a change of pace that some will find welcome. The difficulty is not high in the game and whilst there are combos you find you always have enough time to carry out moves at any pace so the action is not daunting.
Another major change is the way the world is laid out, each chapter takes place in a region and once completed you can explore these at your own pace in order to find collectibles and take on side quests that help the citizens of the city.
There is a fair bit of content here outside of the main storyline with about 5 hours of additional play to complete the game.
Playing as a variety of Ninjas including Master Wu and ultimately unleashing each characters Spinjitsu was a blast and adds a nice element to cooperative play where you need to team up in order to progress through parts of the game, using specific characters to fill certain tasks like shooting an arrow at a target to unlock a gate.
Sadly however this leads me to my first issue with the game – this extra content is a lot longer than the main story itself which I completed in about 3 hours which didn’t leave me feeling satisfied, it made the game feel rushed.
Travelling between areas of the map is daunting with excruciatingly long load times and the camera angles often got in the way. Large scenes like flying on a dragon and fighting loads of mobs felt flat with lots on screen to distract you and not much to do. Similarly the game does a poor job of explaining things at times thrusting you from one bit of action to the next. Overall these issues all had a similar theme which made me feel the game was not polished and a bit rough around the edges.
Playing on the Switch does give you the nice ability to play on the go though I did find I preferred it docked where I could enjoy the cutscenes and the camera angle issues felt less pronounced on a larger screen.
Apart from the long loading times there are not too many bugs but there are a few here and there including the odd physics based issue and the muffled audio I mentioned earlier.
The game is listed on Nintendo.com at £49.99 in the UK and $59.99 in the US but both are available for 39.99 on Amazon (see below). The cost is high for such a short game and if you are not into collecting and playing outside of the main campaign then the cost is just not representing good value.