“Sometimes you have to follow your dreams, even if they are kind of silly”
Ninja Pizza Girl is a race-against-the-clock platformer made by a family in their kitchen and funded through Kickstarter. The project out of Australia is now getting a fresh rollout on consoles after releasing on Steam last year.
The protagonist, Gemma, is a 16-year-old pizza delivery girl for her family’s business, PizzaRiffic. Since she’s an avid runner and everyone lives in apartment high-rises, she delivers on foot. She’s mopey, sarcastic and only appears to be close to her dad, who runs the business, and her brother, who gives her directions.
Platform: Xbox One, PS4
Price I’d pay: I wouldn’t buy it
The objective in each level is to deliver pizzas as fast as possible. This occurs in a dystopian near-future where MegaPizzaCorp, with its sub-par product, completely controls the market. The corporation also employs hundreds of ninjas to disrupt the deliveries of their competitors. The quicker Gemma slides and jumps past the ninjas and her other obstacles, the better score received.
At the end of each level, Gemma has awkward encounters with customers who tend to gush about their problems. Gemma is caring sometimes but is rude in other instances. Many of these are ended abruptly mid-conversation. These interactions and the story as a whole are so weird that they are almost captivating. One subplot in the game centers on a lonely man and woman who are secretly in love with each other. The man comes up with the idea to send an extremely hot pizza to the woman and when she receives it, she instantly gets the message and is ecstatic.
The good, bad and the ugly
Jumping and sliding feels pretty good in Ninja Pizza Girl. Jumps aren’t too floaty, but they do allow for some movement while in the air. New things are consistently added to levels that certainly make things harder and more complex, but not necessarily more fun. Ninjas will pop out of nowhere, making a run rely more on memorization rather than reaction time and skill. Also, wind tunnels are added which slow things down and felt a tad clunky.
Ninja Pizza Girl’s presentation makes a bad first impression. The graphics are immediately underwhelming and the font choice is too wacky to be easily read. The graphics during gameplay are better because the camera is pulled far back and the color filters clean everything up. While it looks better, it’s still no looker. All of the dialogue is presented with cartoon versions of the characters with speech bubbles, which look nice.
Characters are wacky and exaggerated, which is fine, but the story as a whole feels rushed and things just happen, randomly. The ending suffers from this the most and caused me to laugh out loud at some unintentionally comical moments. At least the weirdness kept me engaged to figure out what was going on.
Ninja Pizza Girl’s biggest problem is conveying information. When a level requires players to pick up every collectible instead of delivering a pizza, without telling them that’s the objective, they end up confused and frustrated. I went through a level several times, following the arrows, and I’d arrive right back to where I started. I also missed how to do a certain move and the lack of a controller layout screen or clearer messaging caused me further frustration. Another annoying thing was the pause screen, which made me leave levels constantly because ‘exit’ was the first option and there was no confirmation screen.
Short, but not sweet enough
The story, consisting of only 22 levels, will take about 3 hours, and each level can be replayed to achieve better scores. There’s also a speedrun mode which will allows players to compare themselves to others on the leaderboards.
Ninja Pizza Girl showed a lot of promise. The gameplay was solid enough, a lot of the music choices were great, and there were funny and quirky ideas. Unfortunately, the game frustrated me in several other areas. While the game had many rough edges, I still saw charm and effort put forth by Disparity Games.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.