Review: LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin (PSV/PSTV)

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Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
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Title: LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin
Format: Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (1.2 GB)
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: TT Fusion
Original MSRP: $29.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin is also available on Nintendo 3DS.
The PlayStation Vita card version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 422 of the podcast at 116:30.
Ep422

Gameplay:
This is the sequel to 2014’s LEGO Ninjago: Nindroids. While that game was apparently pulled from Season Three of the TV series, Shadow of Ronin tells a story that’s set as a prequel to the Fifth Season.

A new enemy named Ronin comes along with an army of dark samurai. He hits all the Ninjas with the power of the Obsidian Glaive wiping out their memories and powers. If you’ve watched the TV show it makes a lot more sense as there appear to be a number of in-jokes and callbacks to their past.

The game then becomes a quest to find each of the Ninja’s Obsidian weapons which will reawaken their memories and bring back their powers. The levels are clearly designed with their limitations in mind and then of course with each of their powers as they gain them. It’s a bit on the nose so to speak but it works in favor of the overall gameplay nonetheless.

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Veterans of LEGO games, as always, will feel at home and be able to jump right in. The game ramps up nicely for novice and even younger players, slowly introducing new puzzles and moves along the way.

Interestingly, you’ll often only have two of the four Ninjas on screen at once. You’ll bring up the character wheel to switch to the others when necessary. This was very likely done due to memory constraints and as a way to get better performance out of the game, and it works.

The Hub in the game has you flying a dragon over an island. There’s a path of LEGO stud rings in the sky which will look familiar to anyone who’s played a LEGO game that involved a flying character. You can follow the rings to the next chapter of the story or just explore the island area.

… become a wild tornado …
The only reason to really explore is for the collectibles scattered around. Once you’ve destroyed all of them there’s really nothing else to do or see there.

For the most part it’s standard LEGO combat but you will be able to use each character’s Spinjitzu moves to dominate your enemies. You essentially become a wild tornado, not unlike the Tasmanian Devil, and wipe out anyone you come into contact with.

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The power only lasts a short time and it has to be charged through combat to use it again. The game really starts to get fun as the Elemental Powers are returned to the characters. Fireballs and lightning in particular are a blast.

There are a few vehicle sections which are kind of fun but the controls feel a little loose, making them somewhat frustrating at times. The puzzles are pretty decent but a little simplified as this was made with kids in mind. The game also works great with PlayStation TV and that’s how I played a good chunk of it.

… true to the original series …
This is not your everyday LEGO game in that they’re not taking a popular IP and LEGO-fying it. the Ninjago series is already a LEGO property. The TV series and toy line were LEGOs to begin with.

As such, this game tends to be a bit more serious than the two dozen other LEGO games out there. That’s not to say it isn’t funny. There’s plenty of joking between the characters. It’s just that the over-the-top humor of other LEGO games is largely absent here. In its place is a narrative experience that’s more true to the original series.

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Visuals:
Shadow of Ronin looks like every other LEGO game out there which is to be expected. This was designed specifically for handhelds as it’s available only on the 3DS and the Vita.

With that in mind, TT Fusion was able to optimize the experience for the Vita and, all things considered, it looks great. Fans of the show will recognize a lot of the level settings and all the characters that pop up throughout the game.

… aimed squarely at a younger audience …
The only place where things looked a little shabby (comparatively) was in the Hub. There’s not much going on with the island and while it does have some nice touches, it’s mostly barren.

Audio:
The voice work is fantastic if you’re a fan of the show but older players might find it a bit grating at times since the inflection and jokes are aimed squarely at a younger audience. The rest of the sound effects and music are great with much of it straight out of the show.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

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Conclusion:
This is one of three LEGO titles made specifically for the Vita with no full console counterpart, the others being LEGO Ninjago: Nindroids and LEGO Legends of Chima: Laval’s Journey. All three cater to the specific audiences of the two TV shows but they do still offer something for the uninitiated.

Is it enough to justify a purchase at full price? Unless you’re a hardcore LEGO fan, probably not. But if you’re looking for a full-fledged LEGO game on the go, and you already have the Platinum for LEGO Batman 3, this one should fill in nicely.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

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  • Joshua Simpkins

    Good review, brother man! I agree with your score as well.