I can still remember when the original LEGO Star Wars games released on Gamecube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Back then I thought the LEGO style was novel, with unoriginal, but fun gameplay and introducing more worlds in the LEGO style could only be a good thing. Just over a decade later, and I kind of wish they had never bothered.
It’s not that LEGO games are necessarily bad, but to say they’ve been overdone is a bit of an understatement. There’s only so many times you can release the same kind of game with a new skin and get away with it. And maybe it’s just me – perhaps I’m just growing cynical in my increasingly old age, but this feels like a step too far. Well, actually, the step too far might’ve been a while ago, this might be stomping on its grave.
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The Ninjago team are high schoolers or something along those lines, and they burst out of the classroom with a pass to go to the toilet, but in the blink of an eye, they are Ninja superhero types. I guess they’re like Power Rangers, what with all the giant robots. It’s all done with a tongue firmly in a cheek, with an almost “they’re obviously the heroes but everyone pretends not to know” air about it. And it’s awful.
Admittedly, I haven’t watched much of the TV show nor movie, but my God, if I ever needed something to firmly put me off, here it is. But we can make it through some poorly acted and cringey cutscenes, they’re only movie clips after all, and what we’re here for is gameplay.
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It’s the same as every other damn LEGO game. Hit stuff. LEGO bits come out. Collect them. You’ll need to periodically build stuff by holding a button. Now you have the path forward. Rinse. Repeat. Ad. Infinitum. Yes, this has been the LEGO formula throughout every single LEGO game, and guess what; on returning to the LEGO games, it hasn’t aged well.
I was counting on coop mode as the saving grace, but The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game only allows co-op between two people, despite many, many LEGO games in the past allowing up to four. In a way, it’s a positive; it means when in a room with more than two people in, I can look generous by passing the pad to a friend, saying; “here, you have fun with this” despite the fact that in reality, I’m dying of boredom. Somehow, they made it so even friends can’t help make this LEGO game a more tolerable experience.
But that’s an awful lot of moaning when actually, The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game looks really nice. Superbly detailed backgrounds, a clean sheen on all of the LEGO bricks – this might be one of the best looking LEGO games yet, honestly. In fact, the backgrounds look so nice, I might go as far as saying that ogling them was the highlight of my game experience.
Between mundane and mindless sections where you mash buttons against enemies and put bricks together, you get clips from the movie. They’re exactly what you’d expect; perhaps funnier to a younger audience, but a bit of a test of patience otherwise.
But ultimately, underneath all of my negativity, I know that this is a game aimed at children. I know this is a game aimed at a completely different audience, and honestly, kids looking for a new game to play could fare far, far worse than The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game.
However, it takes a special sort of game to be this egregious when it comes to loading times. Yes, I said it was a very nice looking game, but it a two-minute load screen nice looking game? No way in hell is it. Now answer this; is it acceptable for a game to give you a two-minute load screen, have you walk through a door, activate another two-minute load screen, and then crash to a black screen? In my opinion, this is the sort of thing that’s not acceptable. In any game.
But it happened in The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game; as if putting me through playing wasn’t bad enough, they had to insert it full of awfully long load screens that just might crash on you anyway. I’ve put a video of that below for you to enjoy.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (code provided by the publisher). You can buy the game via Amazon.
Can I recommend The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game? For kids, if they have an interest in Ninjago and the developers can fix the crashes, yes. For everyone else? Please don’t bother.