Ninja Pizza Girl Xbox One Review
Publisher: Disparity Games Developer: Disparity Games Genre: Platformer
Players: 1 Age Rating: 12+ Other console/handheld formats: PS4
As a platformer, Ninja Pizza Girl isn’t an unusual game in the way it plays, but it has unusual narrative themes in the way that it tackles bullying. Bullying isn’t a theme that comes up too often in gaming, so full marks to developer Disparity Games for highlighting it in the story of the game.
Yes, Ninja Pizza Girl looks at some serious issues, of which many people in their lives would have experienced, or will experience in their lives, be it when they’re growing up in school, or even in the workplace. Even though the game does highlight real-life issues, the narrative, told through in-game speech bubbles and comic panel-like sequences, does often have a very light-hearted tone, and there are some amusing lines of dialogue in there, although it has to be said that well delivered voice acting would have likely caused both the humour and its message to have more impact, but it’s understandable why it’s absent in a game that very likely didn’t cost a fortune to make. The focus on bullying gives us a more than valid reason to root for Gemma, the 16-year-old protagonist, who also happens to be a ninja as well as a pizza delivery girl. As the roads are so congested, Gemma has to deliver pizzas for the family company by making use of her Parkour skills along the rooftops, dodging ninjas, delivering top-notch service as well as chatting to her customers upon delivery. It may all sound rather random, and it is, but the simple story is easily digestible and it all somehow comes together and works.
As a game, Ninja Pizza Girl is like a side scrolling version of Mirror’s Edge. It hasn’t quite got the flow and momentum of DICE’s parkour series, but I still felt a rush of adrenaline whenever I was on the run, leaping across rooftops, rolling to break my fall, sliding down slopes, slipping under objects, jumping from wall to wall, bouncing on trampolines, and swinging on poles to make my way to the required destination before my customer’s pizza got cold. You are given a time limit on each level to make sure that this doesn’t happen, assuring that the pizza is nice and hot upon delivery.
Other than the above mentioned obstacles, you’ll also come across rival ninjas, and they are potentially able to slow you down. Luckily, you can knock these ninjas down by jumping or sliding into them, but you’ll come across some that jump out at you unexpectedly later on, which does give the game somewhat of a trial and error feel. Some may find these ninjas cheap and annoying, so I would advise you to remember where they are in case you are to fail a run.
The game gives you enough freedom to take different routes when they are available to you, and this can help improve your times as well as your overall grades when you reach the end of each level. Levels are relatively well designed, and they have been crafted in a way that means falling to your death is a rarity, as most of the time you’ll find something to land on after botching a jump, although it has to be said that some of them do look a little samey.
There’s also various collectibles to find in each stage, including recycling and QR code icons, both of which can be used to purchase various things in the game. The QR codes unlock silly extras such as a big head mode, a first person view, insightful interviews with the developer, and so on. As for the recycling icons, these are important to keep Gemma in tip-top shape.
Indeed, the bullying themes and negativity have also been incorporated in the game itself, and you can see how Gemma is feeling just by seeing how washed out the colours on the screen are, with a burst of colourful lines following Gemma when she has been running for awhile. Whenever you fall, get hit by an obstacle, or are attacked by a rival ninja (who then cruelly laughs at you and calls you names), however, these negative events results in Gemma’s mood dipping, and this carries across from level to level. In a nice touch though, you are able to give Gemma some TLC between stages to help take her mind off such negative things and stop her from falling to her knees in despair in the way that she can when things get too much for her. This TLC helps raise her spirits and brings some colour back to her world. Purchased with the earlier mentioned recycling icons, TLC includes everything from eating chocolate, new clothing, playing games, having a cup of tea, and so on. As welcome as it is, I must admit that TLC could have been better realised though, as it’s more basic than it could have been, although the game’s focus is definitely on delivering those delicious pizzas as swiftly as possible.
The game’s story mode can be completed in less than four hours, but there’s also a Speed Run mode, which is a very fitting inclusion for such a game, and it’s the kind of game that will be replayed over and over again by those who are wanting to improve their times as well as their grades, climbing the online leaderboards in the process.
Ninja Pizza Girl is a game that has obviously had heart and soul poured into it, with mostly successful gameplay as well as a humorous but meaningful story. While the game has a trial and error nature at times, levels can occasionally feel repetitive and TLC could have been better implemented, though running and jumping around the city and delivering steaming hot pizza’s is still an absolute delight. Gemma’s changing mood is a neat little extra and many people, young and old, will be able to relate to her plight. In conclusion, this is definitely a game that is well worth a look.