Sunday 12 April 2015

Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin

It was 1991 and I was six. For my birthday that year my parents decided to get me some Lego, but not real LEGO like real people buy, no, this was knock-off Lego. I forget the name of the brand, but it was called something like “Blox”. Regardless though, they looked exactly like Lego's, but only bigger. They say standing on a LEGO piece in your bare feet is the worse pain you'll ever experience as a child, and yeah that's pretty accurate. But I felt something worse than that back on that September morning in 1991. After leaving my Blox strewn across my bedroom floor, I ran downstairs to nab a cup of tea. By the way, I'm not sure how it is elsewhere, but from an early age and even up until now, I'm a tea fiend. Anyway, I got a cup of tea (in my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cup, naturally), and excitedly ran upstairs. Without a care in the world I ran into my room, tripped on the now empty box of Blox, fell to the ground hard and ended up with my forehead- yes, my forehead- landing directly down onto a lone piece of Blox. Tea went everywhere, bits of Blox went flying and I stayed on the ground for a good 10 minutes with a Blox imprint on my forehead. True story. So yeah, Lego's, man. There's a new game about Lego out, by the way.

Developed by Traveller's Tales and out now for Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita comes Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin, a game that is Traveller's Tale's 24th Lego game to date. I'll be honest- all I know about is simple basic Lego. You know, the kind you take out of the box and put together. I don't really know about Lego's greater expanded franchise such as Lego Chima, Bionicle or, is this chase, Lego Ninjago. Nowadays each Lego set has their own massive back-story apparently, and Ninjago focuses on a world aptly named Ninjago. It's two major continents that were split in half and it's kind of Samurai/Ninja/Dragons/Feudal Japan yet modern day setting. It's all very complicated, but if you're a fan of Ninjago or have a son or daughter who enjoy the franchise, they'll know an entire treasure throw of information on it. Shadow of Ronin focuses on the rise of Ronin, an evil force in the world of Ninjago who controls a powerful army. In Shadow of Ronin your mission is quite simple- stop Ronin.

The formula with Traveller's Tales' Lego games are simple, painfully simple, and Shadow of Ronin continues this tradition. As the group of heroes you'll explore and play within different levels, and throughout each one ultimately do just three main things- fight, collect studs and complete puzzles. Fighting is nothing more than an exercise in button bashing, and like with every Lego game ever you'll also need to collect studs from your fallen foes. The puzzles here are incredibly simple, and require you to change up which character you're playing as. With each hero having their own unique ability, you'll need to figure out which one is best for the puzzle at hand. Puzzles were never tough in the Lego series, but with Shadow of Ronin being for kids they're pretty straight forward. That's all there is to the gameplay. Literally.

I've enjoyed Lego games in the past and while I also enjoyed Shadow of Ronin for what it is, I'm really sick of seeing Traveller's Tales churn out Lego game after Lego game. They never made incredible games, at this point I'd imagine everyone in Traveller's Tales are hunched over their desks, working at gunpoint and generally being forced to make more Lego games. This wouldn't be a problem if every single Lego game didn't played virtually the same, and Shadow of Ronin falls firmly in line with this complaint. Have you played Lego The Lord of the Rings? If so you know what to expect here. Have you played Lego Star Wars: The Video Game? If so you've played the same game a decade ago. Don't get me wrong, I know Shadow of Ronin is for younger gamers, and certainly if they're into the Ninjago franchise they'll easily find some fun here, but even younger gamers deserve something a little more in-depth.

Overall Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin is a hard game to both praise and shit-can. It reuses the same formula that Traveller's Tales have been milking for the last decade, but it doesn't necessarily play bad. It's cheap fun, would be a blast if you play with your children, but don't expect them to get a lot of mileage out of it.

Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin gets a disappointing 2/5.


Denis Murphy

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