Video games can be a wonderful medium for people to express their thoughts and feelings on many subjects while simultaneously creating a fun and engaging pastime for players. Some games do this very well by having players feel the weight of their actions or having NPCs comment on the player throughout the game.
Unfortunately, other games do this poorly by having literally every bit of dialogue be about the developers’ thoughts and feelings. I hate to start this review with a gripe, but I can’t deny that the biggest thing that stuck with me from Ninja Pizza Girl is how it feels like an after school special. What I mean by this is that all of the characters in the game (besides the bad guys of course) spend their time teaching our protagonist, Gemma, various lessons about herself and the world around her.
I wouldn’t have minded this so much if I had known ahead of time that I was in for a game about treating others with respect, being confident in yourself, and not bullying others. The game’s description does say it holds a message, but I had not assumed it’d be so heavy-handed. If this kind of thing wouldn’t bother you, then I have some good news. Outside of the ‘good feels’ being shoved in your face, the actual game isn’t that bad.
While the game was made by only a few people, the backgrounds look decent enough and most of the platforming in the games work well enough. The music and sounds in the game weren’t anything all that special and are ultimately forgettable. Throughout my 100% playthrough, I did have a decent time free running through each of the game’s levels. There are near 30 levels (counting the ‘challenge’ levels), in which you’ll run, jump, slide, tumble, and fight your way through. In the normal levels, you can find many collectibles that you can use to buy new outfits, game art, interviews, and ‘TLC’ items for Gemma. These items are poorly implemented and without much explanation.
While playing the game, Gemma’s mental state will slowly degrade. Whether it’s because you moved too slow, got far enough in the story, or got pushed to the ground and made fun of by the enemy ninjas. This mechanic makes Gemma occasionally break down while trying to run through the time sensitive levels. There are three main reasons this is poorly implemented. First, there are only a set number of collectibles in the game, while there are infinite items available for purchase. Second, since the levels are time sensitive, having a mechanic like this makes some levels very frustrating. Finally, while the game is trying to tell you to be happy with yourself and not to listen to bullies, it also inadvertently encourages players to ‘buy stuff to feel better’. This is a disturbing message that is probably just an unfortunate oversight.
All in all, the game has decent gameplay and few funny lines from a few characters while there are just as many feel good moments. I wish I could say that the gameplay more than makes up for these moments, but really the gameplay is mediocre and fairly forgettable. If you think you’ll be able to look past all the heavy-handed lessons, the game is still fun enough for a few hours.
It’s not a difficult completion and will only last a few hours if you go for the full 100% completion. The 100% completion does ask you to get times on all the normal levels that are better than the highest ranking. This was the longest part of my time playing. Personally, I’d wait and pick this game up if it goes on sale at a decent discount.
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