LEGO Ninjago Movie Videogame Review

Game Title: The LEGO Ninjago Movie Videogame
Developer: TT Fusion
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Retail | Digital
Battery Life: 2.75 – 3.5 hours
Download: 7.4 GB

Once upon a time, Games based on Movies always meant said games would be considered lackluster, disappointing, and all around not very fun to play. TT Fusion and the LEGO franchise changed that. You take movies like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The Avengers and throw them into a huge open-world beat-em-up game and suddenly, movie games are great again.

Then you have the Handheld Lego game problem. Last gen, the 3DS and Vita got stripped-down Lego games. TT Fusion went from Console-like Lego games with missing features to isometric single-player games that the Handheld Lego fanbase hated to Console-like Lego Games that, while still missing features, were closer to their console counterparts and had started to even incorporate the big sandbox arenas in games like LEGO Marvel’s The Avengers.

Now, the Nintendo Switch allows for full console LEGO games on the go, but even that reputation has been damaged with Lego City’s fps problems. So, going in, we are going to look at the new LEGO game for the Nintendo Switch both as how good of a game it is and how well-optimized of a game it is.

Here is my review of The LEGO Ninjago Movie Videogame!

Story

The first thing to know about the movie’s plot is that it is in what is known as the “LEGO Cinematic Universe”. Like the MCU, the Ninjago Movie is in the same continuity as the LEGO Movie and LEGO Batman Movie. Thereforce, it is essentially a reboot of the Ninjago franchise and has no direct ties to the TV Series LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjutsu.

The plot of the movie is around Lego Ninjago City, which is constantly under siege by the villain Garmadon and his army of minions and giant robots, and is constantly repelled by a group of Color-Coordinated Ninjas and their giant mechs until he comes back and tries again, and is repelled again, and the cycle continues. Really, picture it like Power Rangers because the way the whole movie works really gives off a Power Rangers vibe, even more than the TV Series did.

The story, itself, isn’t bad, but it also isn’t great. It’s got some cute comic relief moments, and that Giant Cat from the movie trailers, but is overall a more serious LEGO story than the typical comic-fest. It’s not bad, but it’s definitely not anything like the original LEGO movie.

Gameplay

Like many LEGO games before it, LEGO Ninjago Movie Videogame is a 3D beat-em-up game with puzzle elements thrown into the game. Across the game’s campaign, you’ll be running around 3D environments, fighting enemies as well as platforming and solving light puzzles as you play out several major scenes from the movie.

The big difference here and other LEGO games is the fact that this game takes on the “open-world” idea in a different way. In LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, you had a massive sandbox NYC you could spend hours upon hours just exploring, let alone doing side quests or finding collectibles. This game does have decent-sized hubs, but nowhere near on that level.

The hubs are more like the size of the hubs from the 3DS/PS Vita version of LEGO Batman 3, where you have a decent area to explore, a couple side quests to do here and there, and are mostly there to have portals to the next story level for you to find and enter to continue the plot. Each major area has a hub like this, though only a couple of them are large areas. Others are much smaller.

Actually going through Story Missions is pretty straight-forward. You are either running around a 3D arena or flying in a mech in on-rail-shooting gameplay. While in the 3D arenas, you are sent on a linear path through the areas with objectives, like opening new paths, saving NPCs, or taking on waves of enemies and bosses.

To take on these enemies and bosses, we have the combat, which is the game’s greatest asset. Unlike previous LEGO games, the combat of LEGO Ninjago Movie is much faster-paced and more flashy. There are a lot of different types of skills you learn during the intro and the combat really does deviate from being a typical button-masher. Some enemies guard, requiring you to try different attacks to take them down and all playable characters have different combat styles to adjust to. You also have special QTE attacks that are flashy and unique finishing moves.

The only other unique point is how you gain upgrades. LEGO Ninjago has a skill system that you can unlock as you complete story objectives. Not only will this teach you new abilities, but will enhance previous abilities, like collecting double studs from getting kills from certain techniques, or letting some light techniques break through opponent’s Guard Status.

Now, considering there isn’t a massive amount of side-quests to do, this leads you to think this will be a short game. In fact, I was told that you can 100% the game in under 6 hours. That, however, is not true. Having timed my playthrough of the game, the game should take you around 7-8 hours if you don’t do any side-quests. That’s how long it took me to get through the Epilogue with doing story missions and zero side content. No races. No Side-Quests. No Free Play. Nothing but story progression.

Now, this doesn’t sound bad, but I feel like it is. The fact that it’s 8 hours isn’t bad. The fact that you’re paying $60 for an 8-hour game is. Even across all the side content, you probably won’t be able to spend mjuch more than 10-12 hours on the game, where many previous console LEGO games did cost $60 but easily had a lot more content. LEGO City Undercover, for example, had a 15 hour story campaign and easily near 30-40+ hours of side content. This game does not.

Controls

The controls for the game are pretty standard. The game is compatible with all game modes, but does not support Single Joy-Con play, as I expect from all future LEGO games, at this point.

The control scheme has you moving with the Left Analog Stick and/or D-Pad and moving the camera with the Right Analog Stick. The Triggers are used for swapping characters with the normal triggers and dodging with the ZL/ZR triggers. The final bit is the face buttons. The A button is used for using Spinjutsu for puzzles and B is used for jumping. Square is used for attacks and Triangle for switching party member control.

You can also use the – button to pull up the map and the + button to either pull up the menu or join the game for a 2-player co-op session with a second controller.

Presentation

Visually, the game looks great. All of the graphics and renders are practically flawless in docked and undocked modes. All of the models and everything look just like they do in the movie and even the Cat is somewhat realistic-looking when you see it wandering around the city outside of cutscenes.

What we really need to talk about are performance and glitchiness in the game. First of all, FPS. The LEGO Ninjago Movie Videogame stays at a stable frame-rate for most of the game, but there are a few segments where it drops under 30 fps. In many of these segments, it stays in the mid-20s, but one beach segment I played had it tank way under 20, to the point where it was difficult to play. Only happened really bad once, but it still happened.

Thankfully, doing co-op play did not seem to change the fps. There were a lot of reports about co-op making the fps tank in LEGO City undercover, but it stays stable in this game while using the split-screen multiplayer.

Another thing worth noting is Loading Times. Each time you go to a new major area, you load and load and load. It feels like it takes forever, and it really does take awhile. For each new area, the loading sequence takes around 1 minute to do. The initial loading sequence is also about this long, so be prepared to wait or go do something whenever it loads a new area.

Now, we have some small glitches but one major one, and that is Crashing. For me, the game crashed every time I tried to launch it as long as it was downloaded onto my Micro SD Card (while all other games on the card worked flawlessly). Download the game onto your System Storage and you’ll be good, but still not without the risk. I did have the game crash during a cutscene once early in the game, so it is something to watch out for.

Other small glitches I encountered were in the form of audio sync issues with all cutscenes to one late cutscene not having any voice audio at all. Those are smaller issues, but still issues.

Battery Life

This is a 3D game, so what are we looking at in terms of battery longevity for handheld mode? I had a few expectations from LEGO City Undercover, but here is what I got from 100% to 0%:

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 46 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 50 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 08 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 34 minutes

Another not-great-not-terrible game. You’ll be able to get around 3 hours on average settings, so you can play a fair amount of the game on a single charge.

Summary

In conclusion, The LEGO Ninjago Movie Videogame is a fast and fun beat-em-up game to go along with its movie counterpart. Unfortunately, the experience is bogged down by many technical and length-based issues. It will be well worth it when it's cheaper, but 10-12 hours for doing everything is a hard bargain for $59.99.

6.5/10

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