STAFF REVIEW of Ninja Pizza Girl (Xbox One)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

Ninja Pizza Girl Box art Apparently a surprising amount of people answer the door without pants on when they get pizza delivered. That was one of the big takeaways I got when playing Ninja Pizza Girl. Well, that and the fact that bullying is bad. Released last year on PC, Ninja Pizza Girl has been delivered to the Xbox One, but is this delivery on time, or does it need more time in the oven and a few more toppings?

You play as Gemma, a bonafide ninja pizza girl who has some crazy parkour skills, allowing her to jump from ledge to ledge and rooftop to rooftop, all the while avoiding enemy ninjas. Yup, you read all of that right. Your goal is to deliver your dad’s famous and delicious PizzaRiffic pizza as fast as possible to your client’s door. Unfortunately for you, the huge pizza corporation MegaCorp has noticed a small dip in their profits because of your family pizza business. So what does any greedy corporation do to get more sales? Hire hundreds of ninjas to block Gemma from making her deliveries of course; I mean, that’s what I would do.

Your brother helps you out by giving you the directions (arrows on the screen) to each delivery’s door, though aside from a few unique levels, it’s nearly impossible to get lost. Once you deliver your pizza though I found it odd that seemingly no one paid, though maybe they ordered online? Even worse, apparently everyone ordering pizza wants to open up to Gemma about their problems and life’s troubles. I understand the reasoning behind doing so, as the underlying message of Ninja Pizza Girl is about bullying and feeling good about yourself, but it comes across as terribly forced, as generally people don’t interact with their pizza delivery person in this way. Or maybe I’m simply doing it wrong, who knows.

Some of the mini storylines are very odd, like the one that revolves around the idea of a man who’s in love with a friend (that you just happened to deliver a pizza to earlier) but is afraid to talk about his feelings directly to her (yet he talks to a random pizza delivery girl and opens up no problem), so instead he orders a crazy spicy pizza for his secret love and asks Gemma to deliver it for him. Of course the woman receives the pizza, knows exactly who it’s from, and falls madly in love on the spot. It’s silly, but it’s a little too far out there for my tastes. That being said, it’s interactions like this that show that the game itself has some humor and isn’t trying to take itself too seriously.

At its core, Ninja Pizza Girl is a platforming speedrunner where you’re given a specific amount of time, usually around 3 minutes, to deliver a hot pizza to a customer before heading off for the next delivery. You’ll need to use Gemma’s parkour abilities to jump, slide, and hop onto ledges to overcome a seemingly endless gauntlet of rooftop debris. The more time you finish the level with the better your rank. Levels are linear in terms of getting from point A to B for the most part, but there are some slight branching paths that play into the rooftop verticality setting.

While I was able to easily finish the game in a single sitting, there’s a decent amount of gameplay here for completionists, as each level has a handful of items to collect, not all of which can be collected in a single run, meaning you’ll need to run each level multiple times. If you’re into speed running and online leaderboards, you’ll also be happy to know that those are included as well, so while it may seem like a shallow experience at first, there is a decent amount of replayability if those are your things.

Controls work well for the most part. You’ll jump and slide with ease, and eventually you can take out rival ninjas in your path by jump kicking or sliding into them as well. That being said, I found some issues where where I would get stuck on a ledge or couldn't climb up onto a corner that I should have been able to. While it didn’t happen frequently, for a game that focuses on smooth maneuverability, it did stick out. Eventually levels become much more difficult as you’ll have to jump gaps with moving platforms, swinging posts, and other objects that need to be timed correctly.

The items you collect during your runs can be spent on purchasing Gemma items to make her feel better. The more you ‘crash’ or get hit, the lower her morale goes, as does the grayness of the screen. So, to make her feel better you spend your earned currency on food, video games, or costumes. I understand the idea behind it, but it’s as if the moral of the story is to buy things to make yourself (or someone else) feel better rather than deal with it or talk to someone instead. I know it wasn’t intended that way, but that’s how it came across.

One issue I had near the end of the game was a specific level where instead of reaching the goal as quickly as possible the game wanted me to collect a certain amount of items. This was never explained, so when I kept failing the level when trying to reach the end, which I couldn’t as the level loops, I eventually figured out what I needed to do. Seems like a minor oversight, but it was enough to frustrate me slightly as I didn’t know why I was failing the level numerous times.

As a whole, Ninja Pizza Girl is a simple premise with some silliness behind it. Its goal is to teach players about bullying and to not listen to what the they may say. Sure, the message isn’t conveyed the best at all times, but it’s the underlying tone and meaning that’s important. As a basic game that can be completed quickly, it hovers at "just alright"; however, it’s got a good message for any of the younger gamers out there who are into platforming titles. Just remember; no pants, no pizza!

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 3.0 / 10


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