Lego Ninjago Shadow of Ronin Review for PS Vita

TT Games brings another fine Lego game to the Playstation system. Is this family friendly Vita title worth your time and money? Read on!

Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin is a handheld console game following the adventures of Kai and all his pals (and enemies) in the land of Ninjago as they track down a mercenary named Ronin who has somehow hijacked their memories. You are on a quest to figure out why he did this, how you can get them back, and how to stop his vile plot.

Great presentation! A quality game for the Vita!
Have you ever played a Lego game before? If so, you know how this is going to feel. But does it have the same glossy shine that the Lego Hobbit had? Or The Lego Movie? The production of this title seems pretty high at most times, especially during the movie sequences. But the level of detail and shine breaks down a bit, and that happens in the game hub. In between the chapters you get to navigate a dragon through the land of Ninjago to find the next level (or go back for Free Play mode). The detail of the environment here is minimal. There is no action.. no enemies. Just some flying through rings of Lego studs or finding a few hidden challenges. Luckily, the rest of the 10 game levels feel of a higher graphical quality. 

World Hub images seem a little lower quality...

There are ten chapters to the story, and each chapter has three sub levels. The missions you encounter range from a normal Lego level romp/puzzle solving, to piloting various vehicles (including mechs, transforming 'copter/bikes, jets...) as well as some boss battles. There is a lot of fan service here. My son was wowed by the vehicles, and was often naming them as they appeared. 

A mech level. A lot of fun power to unleash!
So who is this game targeted towards? The game actually feels like a super long episode of the Lego Ninjago series. This is not a bad thing. Kids who follow the show will enjoy they strong characterization of the main ninjas, as well as some high level cinematic sequences. The dialog/script is funny, snappy, and entertaining and keeps the game moving along. You feel like you're a part of the Ninjago adventure. 

Yes, one of the clever sequences. They're actually pretty funny.  
My 8 year old son is a fan of the show and today makes his reviewing debut after helping me go through the game. 

He says: "I think it is fun because you get to chase Ronin and the levels are really fun. I like using Spinjitsu."

Fun level designs and cool elemental powers. Kids and adults both like them!
The pace of the game is quick. Levels aren't overly involved and there is no perma-death (meaning when you "die" you respawn at the same point). If you like quick, fast action, with some powerful vehicles/powers, but don't want to have a gaming experience drag on, this title might interest you. 

One of the on rails vehicle sequences, often with the characters speaking throughout to give a more cinematic feel to it
I got through the main story levels in about 6 hours. I had only 40-50 % completed the game at that point. Is this worth the $30? It is a quality game, but some may balk at the price unless you considering the following.  

Cool elemental powers!
The real enjoyment out of Lego games is the collecting, and Shadow of Ronin has that going for it. Each of the three sub levels has five challenges to accomplish. These are called the "Gold Brick" challenges. Not that I see a way to do something with these "bricks." In the Star Wars Lego game you got to actually see something built with these. Here, I think it is only a namesake. 

A typical set of challenges for each sub level. 
There is the signature "True Ninja" challenge where you have to pick up a certain amount of studs. Others require you to find "unlockables," which are a combo of hidden characters or Red Bricks, the boosts you can purchase that make the game easier. One other "gold brick" challenge, as they call them, is for completing the level, and two others are for doing level specific tasks. There are no "mini kits" that are in other Lego games, however.   

Challenge Builds happen throughout the game, as you have to build an item without making mistakes for maximum studs. You'll be sliding the correct pieces into place when prompted. 

Quick drag and drop challenge parts of the game
I am working my way towards the Platinum trophy, and it doesn't appear like it will take me too long. Most trophies are level completion, but there are a variety of others that require you to purchase and use hidden characters, or do specific things with vehicles. Nothing too difficult. 

Different characters are needed to accomplish different tasks. 
On your first play through you'll often see branching pathways that you can't quite unlock. These will be unlocked with characters that you can purchase from unlocks to get that 100% completion. Certain characters can follow an acid path, others are bought to open skeleton doors. Finding the correct character to use and how to maneuver them through this section is engaging. This ought to make any "completionist" happy. Again, though, I find that I will probably Platinum the game in a few more hours of playing. 

Here, check out the trailer!

An entertaining Lego adventure through the world of Ninjago. Quick action and entertaining characters will keep you hooked, and unlocking all the hidden gems will keep you coming back for more. 

Thanks to Tt Games and Warner Bros. Entertainment for the chance to review this game!  

Readers! What Lego games have you enjoyed? What do you think? Will you pick this one up, too?

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