Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin

Time to write an insightful comment about Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin.

By Daavpuke, Posted 15 Apr 2015

While its brand is blowing up in a major way, Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin still sees the toy line’s lesser known items go to handhelds. Given the action adventure’s target audience, it may not be the worst idea to have an easily digestible campaign. Enjoyment, however, stays on the shallow end, though some divertissement is planned out to offset the overall linear progression.

Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin,Ps Vita,Nintendo,3DS,Review

As a sized down venture, the handheld doesn’t sport particularly rich environments or models, though the blocky theme stays ever present wherever the journey goes. Pretty much all ornaments are made out of Lego, scattering with a cheerful, clattering sound when broken. Most of the visual splendor takes form in acted cutscenes where the ninja group furthers their shenanigans the likes of your average teenage mutant.

Unfortunately, the writing takes a steep plunge into the obvious slapstick routine, breaking out in the same awkward responses each time. Here’s what to take away from any conversation: Someone says something that can either be taken seriously or taken out of context, which would lead someone to slightly self-deprecating ridicule. Always pick option number two and that’s the entire plot right there. Every single character is a much lesser Michelangelo.

Story is broken up in areas with a few optional objectives, ranging from collecting bricks to finding hidden items. Each gameplay section is a pretty straightforward affair. Go to one point, maybe solve a puzzle with the use of the characters’ unique powers and move on. Periodically, enemies will come in to fight the ninjas. Arguably the worst mechanism in the Lego series, combat is as simple as pressing a button until there are no more opponents. Worse yet, a special tornado skill now makes it easier than ever to defeat mobs. For a game about powerful ninjas, Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin severely disappoints on hand-to-hand combat. Boss fights are an improvement, mostly resorting to a Zelda style, where there’s an obvious weakness to be exploited and likely a certain person to do it.

Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin,Ps Vita,Nintendo,3DS,Review

Where this game shines is its ability to understand no one will stick around for just the aforementioned basics. So, every so often, characters will go to a certain area with a special vehicle. A race event full of animosity ensues. Now, one of those machines, the bike, is absolutely uncontrollable, which should mean a disastrous result overall, but there are alternatives. For jet planes or even the odd giant mech fight, things turn out well enough. It’s possible to control these vehicles, at least. They’re also one of the few gameplay elements that make use of touch controls, but simple enough that it doesn’t interfere with the scene. So, after a bit of platform sections and puzzles, it’s expected to have some dogfights, fly through rings or even bust down an entire city. For a smaller adventure, at least there’s an attempt to keep it grandiose.

Even linearity can often take a backseat, thanks to objectives that encourage exploration or collectibles that invite a return to unlock more content. It’s not the best system, but it does keep the game from falling into dull repetition. A mini-game also cleverly touches on the build element of the toys, as contraptions are made manually, piece by piece, for a little while at least. In some parts, it’s obvious that designs were crafted to be entertaining. Therefore, it’s so heartbreaking not to see it fully-fledged throughout the project’s entirety.

Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin,Ps Vita,Nintendo,3DS,Review

By no means is Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin a high-flyer and it only has itself to blame for taking the easy route out on a lot of facets. More needs to be done to make the group of warriors more engaging to play. Luckily, there’s also an equal effort to try out some diversifying elements that get consistently thrown into the story. New, exhilarating snippets to go through frequently save this game from a fall and almost make it a much better adventure; almost.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): 3DS, Vita, Mobile
Publisher(s): The Lego Group, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer(s): TT Fusion, Traveller's Tales
Genres: Action-adventure
Themes: Lego
Release Date: 2015-03-24

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