LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin (3DS, Vita)

NINJAGO_BOXLEGO Ninjago is a popular line of toys, as well as a long-running action-adventure computer animated series on Cartoon Network portraying the escapades of a group of LEGO ninja friends.  Now you can embark on their latest journey on the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita (reviewed on 3DS here).  One day, a mysterious villain named Ronin appears and steals the ninjas’ memories with a secret weapon called the Obsidian Glaive.  Now it’s up to the four ninja heroes to find their own Obsidian weapons to regain their memories and elemental powers to stop Ronin’s evil plans in this all-new 3D adventure that plays similar to other LEGO titles.

Your ninja heroes can run and jump, as well as fight baddies with close and long range attacks.  Hold down the X button to bring up a ring menu on the bottom screen to switch characters.  Each ninja and their friends have special skills you can use to solve puzzles and bypass obstacles.  You can also build structures with LEGO bricks like in other titles, and the ninjas can use a powerful Spinjitsu attack that turns them into a tornado so they can mow down enemies like the Tasmanian Devil, as well as turn certain switches.

There are many levels, but they are shorter and perfect for portable gaming.  In most stages you’ll run around, collecting LEGO studs and other items while defeating enemies and overcoming obstacles and puzzles.  Sometimes you may ride a vehicle like a motorcycle, jet, or even travel by dragon in the hub world between levels.  Each stage has various challenges for you to tackle, like beating the stage in a certain time, finish without getting hit or dying, and much more.  Earn gold bricks by completing these challenges, although I’m not sure what the gold bricks do exactly.

Similar to other LEGO games, if you lose all your hearts, you’ll just fall to pieces and start back again with a minimal loss of studs, so it’s not too frustrating.  They made the camera angles and level designs more like the big console LEGO games instead of the isometric view that most handheld LEGO titles have.  Only problems I had with the game are minor.  It’s just a single-player game, and these types of adventures are more fun with a friend, but it would be kind of hard to do that on a handheld.  Also, while not completely necessary, it helps to have a small bit of knowledge about the characters and settings from the cartoon show.  With that said, fans of the series will enjoy this game the most, as it has tons of animated fully-voiced scenes that make you feel like you’re on one of their adventures.  But it’s still a pretty fun little LEGO title regardless.


Kid Factor:

LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Cartoon Violence and Comic Mischief.  While you do punch, kick, slash, and zap bad guys around, everyone is made of LEGOs and just falls apart when defeated.  If you’re OK with your kids watching the TV show, they’ll be OK with the game, too.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the text.  Fans of the cartoon and toy line will absolutely eat this game up, though.

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