Pizza, Platforming, and Good Vibes
By Edwin Velez
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on July 20th, 2016 for Xbox One (Also Availible on Steam)
Developer: Disparity Games Publisher: Disparity Games
Ninja Pizza Girl. With a name like that, it is hard to know what you are in for when you first boot it up. To my surprise, you get an easy going platform that’s full of positive messages. Created by Disparity Games, Ninja Pizza Girl follows the story of a family pizzeria trying to stand out in a bleak future that is full of big wig, low quality pizza delivery offerings. You are Gemma, daughter of PizzaRiffic’s owner, and you are a Pizza Ninja. In the future, the streets are constantly packed, and the fastest way to deliver a pizza is across the roofs high above the city. Along with the help of your brother, it is your job to deliver terrific pizza that stands out as a quality product. Aside from these cheesy (no pun intended) but effective notions, Ninja Pizza Girl delivers some fun platforming and meaningful lines of dialogue.
Ninja Pizza Girl’s gameplay is fast paced, presented as a 2D platformer with speed in mind. Each level in the story mode has a time limit in play, which serves as your time until the pizza is no longer fresh. You need to run, jump, and avoid obstacles as swiftly and smoothly as you can to make sure your customer service is up to par. Somewhat playing like a 2D Mirror’s Edge, making finesse key to mastering the games mechanics, but the title is also surprisingly easy to get a hang of early on. It plays well, with most inputs being run, jump, and slide or slight variations of those abilities. Some instances beg to be smoother, with tight spaces being hazardous and you may find yourself stuck in mid jump between a wall and an obstacle. For the most part however, the game plays well. Unique to the game is a “health” system that is based on Gemma’s mood. The more you fall or are bullied by a syndicate of rival Pizza Ninjas, the more Gemma feels down in the dumps. Once you hit “rock bottom” so to speak, you have to visit the shop where you can purchase games or snacks to up her mood. This will make the screen brighter and Gemma more perked up. If you don’t alleviate her mood, each fall will make Gemma struggle to get up, which can be a nuisance when trying to beat those times.
While the story really does not need to be anything spectacular for a title like this, it does have some really good themes. At the end of the day, Ninja Pizza Girl is really about believing in yourself and others. I never thought I could write a sentence like that and have it make sense, but it does. Gemma’s brief story lets us see her learn about herself and others through simple, personal interactions. The game focuses on some modern social issues, most notably so bullying. Bullying over the years has gotten increasingly worse, and it is great that games like this (as well as TurnOn, another platformer we covered earlier this year) are taking the initiative to stand up against it. As I mentioned, Gemma’s mood has a role in the game. She is consistently doubting her abilities in comparison to her rival ninja, when all along she should have blocked them out and realized that everyone around her appreciated what she was doing. Again, it is hard to say something as serious as that with a title like Ninja Pizza Girl, but it is a balanced title that lets you have fun while exploring real world issues.
Style wise, I like the look and feel of the title. Ninja Pizza Girl is an electronic symphony of sound, speed and pizza. The graphics won’t blow you away, but the neon lights and flair work well overall. Paired with a fun electronic soundtrack, everything tunes nicely when you are running to your next drop-off. The comics that serve as cut scenes do not mesh well with the overall style in my opinion. However they are hand drawn by a teenage girl, and that is enough to make them worthy of appreciation as they get the job done with a cute presentation. In each level there are a variety of collectibles that you can use to buy the TLC items that make Gemma happier, but you can also use them to buy new outfits, behind the scenes looks, and even modifiers. Mods like first person mode and big head mode add a bit more variety to the title, which only has a little over 20 levels in the story. Thankfully the level design is done well, so there are multiple paths to take that will require practice and effort to find which is the quickest to get the best score.
All-in-all Ninja Pizza Girl is a safe experience. I commend it for its approach towards real world issues, and it deserves the commendations for finding a voice in a genre that does not always have room for it. The platforming is solid, as well as the title as a whole, but again it is a safe approach. It does not break any boundaries, nor does it fall below them. Ninja Pizza Girl is an enjoyable platformer that will keep you busy for a short while across its 24 levels, and that number is doubled when you add in the speedrun mode. With mods and adjustable difficulties, the outcome of your gameplay is in your power, and you can make it a much more challenging experience if that is what you’re after. Otherwise for your money, you are getting a cheesy, solid slice of a platformer, which shines as an inspirational piece in the genre.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review.
Final Score: 7/10
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