Review: LEGO Ninjago: Nindroids (PS Vita)
The Ninjago line is a highly profitable one for both LEGO as well as TT Games. After Lego Battles: Ninjago sold relatively well on a minimalistic budget it was only inevitable that we’d see another installment to this franchise. This time around LEGO Ninjago: Nindroids is based on the popular animated TV series LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjit. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) Nindroids sticks very much to the demographic that would be interested in the show, in return offering very little interesting to those outside the world of cybernetic LEGO ninjas.
Kai, Lloyd Montgomery Garmadon, Jay Walker (Yeah, you read correctly) and Zane Julien, along with numerous alternative, unlockable versions of themselves team up to conquer the evil Digital Overlord and his army of Nindroid minions. These heroes battle their way through thirty overly-simplistic levels comprised of elements from the TV series. Most of these levels can be completed in less than five minutes leaving the overall playtime somewhat concerning. While the levels are for the most part ridiculously short each one has noteworthy replay value, which comes in the form of level challenges. Like in other LEGO titles, as an optional extra, you can choose to collect LEGO coins, find the infamous hidden red block or beat a given number of enemies on each level. Each level has ten challenges which can be revisited as any character you choose provided you unlock them first. Some characters are needed to fulfill specific tasks as you’d expect from the typical LEGO formula, but isn’t that why we love these games in the first place?
Every now and then you will be presented with an alternative vehicle-themed level in which you are typically tasked with avoiding projectiles while shooting away at a target. These levels provide a much needed break for the other monotonous stages found throughout the game. After each level you are presented with a short cinematic, which ties together the story of our attitude-driven heroes. These cinematics, along with in game visuals, are far less blurry than previous Vita LEGO ports and the frame rate issues seem to have improved a bit. These improvements can be attributed to this title not being a port as it has been developed specifically as a handheld title. While the frame rate issues have improved the environments are lifeless and cheaply constructed. The puzzle elements are weak especially considering that the game is intended for children over the age of ten. When presenting some of these puzzles to a 6-year old they’d probably yawn and find stimulus in the latest Angry Birds title.
LEGO Ninjago: Nindroids falls short in numerous areas. The retelling of the Masters of Spinjit story feels cheap and the script is forgettable. This has often been a make or break factor for LEGO games in the past. The game offers very little challenge even for its target demographic. Unless you have the sadomasochistic need to revisit routine levels to complete the simplistic challenges there is very little reason to want to even look a the game after completion. Younger gamers, even younger then the intended audience as well as fans of the TV series will be content with this short-lived offering. Anyone else however would do well to avoid entry to the franchise and set their sights on LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, which is scheduled for later this year.