Ninja Pizza Girl is a game from the studio Disparity Games, which is an Aussie family that started the game through a successful Kickstarter campaign. The game draws inspiration from Nicole and Jason Stark, the co-founders, and their daughters’ own experiences with bullying and depression. Many people suffer from depression, myself included, and it’s always nice to see a game with an interesting perspective, whilst still being fun to play.
You play as a teenage girl called Gemma, who currently works for the family pizza business. Delivering the pizza isn’t as straight forward as you might think and Gemma, amongst others, is actually a parkour delivery ninja! The environments you traverse through are dangerous, full of obstacles and is ruled by a mega-corporation. The game is unique and I have to say that I really enjoyed the premise and gameplay. If you blended up Mirrors Edge and Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles with a dash of Olli Olli, you get Ninja Pizza Girl. During the game you meet various characters, enemies to confront and obstacles to get past.
When starting the game, you get to choose from two different modes, which are the standard story mode and the speed run mode. The story mode sees you delivering pizzas to various customers whilst collecting different items scattered throughout stages. These collectables offer plenty of replayability to the game and each stage is scored with a grade, so its fun to go back and beat your previous ranking. The collectables reminded me of classic Tony Hawk games as they unlock various items and other things like concept art.
You collect as much salvage as possible and have to beat the timer that is ticking down. The controls are fluid and feel great, with the ability to run, jump, slide, duck and dive kick enemy ninjas. You have to be aware that Gemma’s self esteem can drop if you’re not doing well but you can actually purchase things like chocolate and computer game cartridges to boost her mood. Another interesting mechanic that works really well is the wall jump, which allows you to traverse up steep walls and you can even slide down high walls. As the game progresses more things are added like enemy ninjas and trampolines to bounce on.
The gameplay here feels great and the setting looks great. The movement of Gemma has a nice flow to it, much like Mirror’s Edge, with smooth animations and a satisfying pace to stages. The stages you play through are fairly linear but do allow you to explore different routes and pathways. The idea is to make your way as smoothly as possible through stages, but the obstacles do stop your forward momentum if you don’t manage to avoid them. You can also fall from great heights but if you hold the duck/slide button you land smoothly, much like continuing a combo chain in Tony Hawk or Olli Olli. Each stage has an introduction and epilogue that sees you talking to various characters, whether its your dad, brother or multiple customers in their underpants. These conversations happen through 2D comic book style overlays that look great.
The game is divided into six chapters, each with a unique theme and setting. Disparity Games have also added a range of difficulty options so players wanting to experience the story can do so you can play on a harder setting, which the game does offer once you have started the first few stages. I really loved the arcade style gameplay and the simple menus feel fresh and easy to navigate. The overall atmosphere of the game is very well done, with a futuristic cyberpunk style with a wide variety of characters. The game does a nice job of subtly using colour to indicate how you’re doing. If you fall or stop, the colours become desaturated, and the music changes back from the upbeat track. I really enjoyed the presentation as a whole but I couldn’t help feel that the levels felt a bit limited and I would have liked to of seen a bit more variety as the game progressed. The sound design is also good, with decent voice acting and upbeat soundtrack. The only thing I would say is that the music does become too repetitive and it would have been good to of had more variation to the music. The game also stuttered a few times during stages and when heading back to the menu, but it was never game breaking and rarely impacted my experience.
Overall Ninja Pizza Girl is a fun 2D platforming game with smooth parkour and meaningful narrative. The gameplay, the music, the atmosphere, and morals all come together to create a fun experience that is satisfying and addictive. The game also has a good sense of humour that flows throughout and the moments of dialogue work really well between segments of action. I would recommend this game if you like 2D platformers, rhythm games and plenty of replayability.
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