The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game Proves The Series Still Has A Few Fresh Blocks Up Its Sleeve

As predictable as tomorrow morning’s sunrise, a new Lego movie means we will be seeing a Lego video game tie-in pretty much on the same day as the film’s theatrical release. Since 2005’s Lego Star Wars, TT Games have delivered consistently enjoyable Lego spinoffs that have satisfied gamers young and old. From Indiana Jones, to The Lord of the Rings, to the Avengers, pretty much every massively iconic pop culture franchise has been Lego’d in some capacity—especially if you count all those Lego: Dimensions level packs.

As an adult gamer, I do admit to feeling a sense of fatigue with all these games and add-ons that more or less deliver the same core gameplay. While the past few Lego games have introduced a few fresh ingredients (like how in the Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens one pile of dancing bricks can lead to multiple surprising creations; which is thankfully retained here), overall not much changed in the last dozen years and dozen-plus titles.

I’m happy to report that The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game finally tweaks what’s probably the least refined aspect of these games: the fighting mechanics. Immediately off the bat, the game’s combat tutorial makes it clear that we’re now capable of unleashing a far more intricate series of attacks, and battle sequences are no longer as simple as just mashing one button and rarely dying. This time, the enemies feel smarter and require you to pull off some clever combos (kind of like in Batman: Arkham) to thwart them. As you make your way through the game’s impressively dense eight levels, you can also enhance your powers and techniques by trading in Ninjanuity Tokens for skill tree upgrades.

Plot-wise, The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game is essentially a truncated version of The Lego Ninjago Movie, albeit with less impressive voice talent. While I get a bigger kick out of seeing more longstanding Hollywood icons and sobering action dramas receive a lighthearted, Lego-fied spin in this these games, there’s still plenty of amusing sight gags and story beats here that younger players will 100 per cent adore.

Unlike the game’s comically longwinded title, The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game has a relatively brisk campaign, which can be completed under just a handful of hours. However, unlike in previous Lego games, you’re given the ability to free-roam any stage as soon as it has been completed. While the majority of extra challenges are unlocked after you’ve finished the entire game, it’s nice to revisit and explore these areas much sooner. Also, Ninjago city looks dope and is super fun to parkour around as a sprightly ninja.

Puzzle-wise, not much has changed. The formula mainly involves smashing everything in sight into tiny pieces and then building them into fresh creations (often more than one) in order to reach new areas or defeat a boss. Still, there are some pretty swell additions here, like a shooting section that has you riding a giant dragon as it flies across the city amidst total chaos.

Collecting copious amounts of studs has always been one of the game’s biggest draw in terms of replayability, but they’re no longer required in order to unlock new characters even after you’ve discovered them. Meet a new character, they’re yours to unlock. And there are a brickload of playable characters—some of which are actually quite surprising.

Aside from the main adventure and endless stud collecting, there are also Challenge Dojos, which are similar to Lego Dimensions’ Battle Arenas and are gradually unlocked as you make your way through the campaign. These are basically fighting zones where you take on waves of baddies to earn medals.

If you’re a fan of Lego games, you’ll be a fan of this one, too. If you’ve never played a Lego game, this is as good a time as ever to get on board. The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game is out now for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC. Check out the trailer below.