Traveller’s Tales have now mastered the formula of creating video games based on the popular Lego universe. While these games mostly revolve around the same formula, they do try to keep things interesting by adding new gameplay mechanics that is usually based on the IP for that particular game. In the case of The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game, it is based on the recently released The LEGO Ninjago movie which has been a popular TV show for a while. The movie is the first time the series has made its way to the big screen although it is not necessarily the first LEGO movie.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game takes the story from the movie and presents levels around them. This unfortunately results in a design where the open world fun of LEGO games takes a setback to more linear focused exploration. One of the example of such open world exploration recently is the LEGO City Undercover which is a fantastic blend of the typical LEGO humor with the open world craziness of Grand Theft Auto series. The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game is mostly aimed at the fans of the The LEGO Ninjago series and particularly those who have enjoyed the movie.
One of the new changes to The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game is the improvement to the combat system. I haven’t enjoyed the basic combat in a LEGO game for the most part but it was particularly engaging in The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game. One of the reason what made it refreshing to use was the stylish combos and Ninja moves that have been added to the combat. You have four different Ninja users and each has their own unique weapon and combos that leads to some fun battles. The combat offers normalattacks as well as special moves depending on the character. Mixing and matching between the characters can be a fun experience and tends to take away the repetitive of a typical LEGO game.
The game also relies on a combo meter where you get more studs if you keep the combo chain going for a longer amount of time. Combo is performed easily but keeping it going is half the fun. You will also learn new moves and unlock new skills once you progress further in the story. These skills are gradually unlocked and can be used in combat. There are some general purpose skills as well like getting more studs from enemy or items. These help in keeping a sense of progression without having to rely on the same old combos.
Aside from levels where you take control of the characters through the city, there will be some segments where you are controlling the mechs. They play mostly on-rail and don’t offer much in term of gameplay. Honestly these segments could have been showcased through cutscenes because I never found them fun to play. They are not particularly that difficult either. During these segments, the controls will shift to a typical first person shooter where you have an aiming reticle and can shoot from your mech. Some boss fights also take place during these segments letting you aim for their weak points in order to damage them.
Once you have progressed a little further in the story, you will be able to unlock free play and can explore a semi-open segment of the city. The game is not exactly open world but it doesn’t keep strictly linear in term of design. You can replay any of the old chapters to get the secrets or collectibles that you might have missed. If you like collecting the gold bricks which have been a part of almost every LEGO game, you will be able to enjoy the side content presented here. You can also attempt some challenges that reward you with more studs or unlockables. You can play the whole game with a partner since it supports co-op. It can be fun to explore some of the side content with a friend and while it might not be as memorable as LEGO City Undercover, it manages to hold on its own thanks to the combat system.
This is my first LEGO game on the Nintendo Switch so I am not really sure how it compares to LEGO City Undercover but it was disappointing to see that the Switch version suffers from frame rate issues. This is particularly noticeable right at the start of the game when you have to take control of one of the LEGO Ninja mechs and have to control it while flying over a city and killing the enemy mechs. The frame rate during this particular section was awful and completely killed my enjoyment of this segment. While the game does suffer from performance issues as severe as this section, they don’t apply for the whole game. The sections where you take control of the character and play through the game usually hold up fine for the most part. The game seems to work the same in docked or handheld mode but the load times were a little longer when playing in portable mode. Performance issues occur on both modes so unfortunately there is no way to avoid them.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: The LEGO® NINJAGO® Movie Video Game will allow players to delve into the world of the new big-screen animated adventure The LEGO NINJAGO Movie.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game offers a refreshing combat system although held back by a restricted level design. When it comes to the Nintendo Switch version, it suffers from some annoying performance issues that might have an impact on the gameplay experience.