LEGO Battles: Ninjago NDS

LEGO Battles: Ninjago may not be your typical LEGO game based on a popular action film but it does have enough style of its own and decent RTS gameplay to make it a worthy rental or possible purchase.

Graphics & Audio: 18/25,
Gameplay: 18/25, 
Creativity 20/25,
Fun 18/25 

Total: 74/100 

LEGO Battles: Ninjago NDS

LEGO Battles: Ninjago is a Nintendo DS only game from developer Hellbent Games and Warner Brothers publishing but unlike the developers name hints at it is a kid friendly E rated game. LEGO Battles: Ninjago does not follow the typical LEGO theme of games from hot action films such as Star Wars or Indiana Jones but strikes out on its own with a Ninja theme.

The story follows Sensei Wu as he tries to stop Lord Garmadon from finding all of the Golden Weapons and ruling their part of the world. These weapons will give great powers to whomever wields them and the Sensei must use his fellow Ninja warriors who are students to fight the off a skeleton army.

You can play Ninjago as either side trying to stop Lord Garmadon or as the leader of the Skeleton army to try and help Lord Garmadon and find the Golden Weapons. Ninjago has two campaigns along with a single player and multiplayer gaming element with a tutorial for a decent amount of gameplay.

Ninjago has an interesting enough story but like many games that work well the storyline is not all that necessary to keep interest in the game, especially when it is geared toward a younger crowd. You play as a group of heroes or skeletons that you can switch between at will but this really does not make for much of an advantage.

Each warrior or hero uses different skills or weapons and you will later on be able to recruit skeleton warriors to use in your fighting. You do not see much of the fighting and there are no outright views other than tiny blocks getting knocked around on screen.

Both due to the size of the screen and lack of any real flesh and blood opponents the games use of LEGO’s makes it very kid friendly. This fact alone is one that makes the game much more kid friendly and less frustrating for young players but also less exciting and challenging for older ones.

The developer has seemed to work toward a balance between both adults and kids when deciding where to take the games difficulties and worked toward striking a balance. You are tasked with gathering weapons and recruiting skeleton soldiers throughout areas in four levels for the main campaign.

The game also has a good combat system but with the smaller system of the Nintendo DS that the game is exclusive to the combat is short on control and mostly just button mashing. The wandering around gathering items and defeating foes works well and the use of cloud cover to obscure the world until you go there works and introduces the RTS gaming system to younger gamers.

You also have some multiplayer gaming to run through if you have another person to play with and another game but I did not have another to try the game out with for an honest opinion. A few reviewers say the multiplayer gaming is fun and worthwhile and with the single player section and the campaigns this surely makes for at least a rental.

The single and multiplayer gaming uses familiar FPS game types like Capture the Flag and King of the Hill along with a few other game types for a good variety in both modes. The Battle Modes as both the single and multiplayer sections are called add a lot of value to the game and make it good for variety for both young and adult gamers.

The games graphics are a bit simple and at times hard to get used to as the blocks sometimes blend too much together to make picking out individuals tough. The game is on a small screen to start with and using the blocks of LEGO tradition means everything has an 8 bit feel to it like those old computer games on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The graphics have good color and nice looking effects but with the small screen things can become confusing in the heat of combat and a bit difficult to control at times. Mostly the game looks good and aside from a dated feel it plays well and the cutscenes look great.

Audio is pretty basic and like so many of the Nintendo DS games feels very unmatched to the graphics and other portions of the game with basic theme music that gets repetitive. Other than this basic but well match theme music there are a few sound effects but not many during your fighting and adventuring.

The games RTS feel and character building is quite basic but there are familiar elements as well for RTS fans. You have the two campaigns with a single and multiplayer Battle Mode along with the tutorial which can actually be fun so there is good value.

LEGO Battles: Ninjago may be a bit of a mixed bag for adults and gets pretty repetitive but for kids after a rental they may find they like the game and it could make for a worthwhile purchase.

LEGO Website