Those that are close to me know I am not a big fan of side-scrollers. Probably because I’m bitter there hasn’t been a great Sonic game since the Genesis days, but that’s neither here nor there. They’ll also know I am not a fan of repetition. Yet here I am loving a side-scrolling, platform game and replaying all of its levels multiple times. Ninja Pizza Girl is so much more than platforming though. There’s a morale message, heartwarming story and characters, and an all around feeling of love. Both inside the game and out. All doubts about crowd funded titles would disappear if more of them were made like this.
Ninja Pizza Girl takes place in a futuristic, dystopian city where the skyscrapers reach high and the corruption in pizza business is higher. A company called MegaCo controls all pizza supplies and communication in the city. Might I add they purposely make their pizza pretty horrible. That’s the real crime. You play as Gemma. A teenage girl who delivers good-tasting pizza for her family’s restaurant. She is also a ninja by all accounts. So yea, pretty badass. Together with her father and brother, they deliver happiness throughout the city’s ledges and rooftops. It has to be delivered that way because the streets are overcrowded and the traffic is awful. Think of the Gridlock episode in Doctor Who.
You’re probably thinking why a fascist, ruling power would allow a local mom and pop shop to infringe upon its business. And you’d be right. In fact, Gemma’s family’s business is so popular that it takes away .01% of MegaCo’s profits. They enlist minimum waged, teenage ninja’s of their own to deliver inferior pizza and hinder our main character. Still with me? Trust me this unconventional plot is fully realised. Its strangeness lifts up the experience in every possible way. The comic book style cutscenes only further enhance Ninja Pizza Girl’s uniqueness.
The gameplay is a hybrid between fast-paced, side-scrolling platforming and parkour in order to deliver pizza to the customer. There are numerous paths that you can take to reach the client’s house by jumping, swinging, breaking stuff, floating, and riding. All of it feels incredibly tight and satisfying with no input lag to speak of. When you nail a perfect run on a level you will feel the exuberant joys of this satisfying gameplay the most. Which incidentally is pretty easy. Every gamer from novice to master will enjoy what Ninja Pizza Girl offers in terms of rewards. You’ll especially feel unstoppable when you don’t make mistakes for a time. Gemma will light up, run slightly faster, and awesome music plays.
Also, most levels will have rival teenage ninjas trying to slow you down. They’ll push you, trip you, throw things at you, and laugh when they succeed afterwards. Boy do they laugh. In fact, if Gemma fails enough times or is around a lot of people laughing she’ll crumble up into a ball. You can rebound from this by repeatedly pressing X but your time to finish the level will surely suffer. This feature of gameplay bleeds into the lesson the game has to teach. Ninja Pizza Girl deals with self-esteem, bullying, love, and friendship (and no not in the corny, Yu-Gi-Oh friendship is ultimate power.) It goes over these feelings with care and believe it or not ties nicely into the absurd premise. Gemma’s tale will make you realise your own self-worth and that’s a tall order from a video game.
What would a pizza place in a dystopia be without tunes? The menu music alone is beautiful. Like right now, as I’m writing this, I have the game open so I can listen to it. You can believe it will compliment the gameplay as well. Another compliment of the game is collectables. Most of them are relatively easy to acquire and are used to purchase costumes, items to cheer up Gemma, and a plethora of extras. You can spend the collectables on artwork, audio clips from the developers, gameplay modifiers, and in-game comic strips. So add a few more playthroughs in each level to unlock these extras.
With all my praise you must wonder if I found any fault with Ninja Pizza Girl. Alas, I did. If you jump on a ledge wrong it will cause you to float in mid-air and make it hard to escape. As I mentioned the game is fast-paced so it doesn’t happen often but if it does and you’re going for that fastest time, you’ll be starting the level over again. Another issue comes from balance beams. Through parts of the game you’ll balance on some planks to get across a gap. If you fail and fall to the ground then the beam will naturally follow. In the event you don’t get out from under it, Gemma will be stuck under the beam giving you no choice but to start the level again. The last issue arose from those enemy ninjas. At times it will be hard to predict how fast they move or appear from behind cover. You’d swear you hit the right button to bash some sense into the other teenagers but you’ll find yourself on your butt all the same.
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