Ninja Pizza Girl Review
No Pants No Pizza, it’s the tagline for the quirky, side-scrolling fun that is Ninja Pizza Girl (NPG), a game with a message starring pizza delivery girl Gemma, born from Brisbane based independent studio Disparity Games. There are 24 levels of delivering pizza, facing bullies, defeating adversity, refusing service for having no pants and helping others overcome their problems. Self-care is a persistent theme, with the player having to take care of Gemma’s emotional needs too. There’s a strong message within NPG, and it’s one that forces the player to see many sides of the same story. This paints the picture of how everyone has a point of view and it is important to see things from someone else’s perspective.
Gemma spends her time after school free running over the skyscrapers of her city, delivering pizza for her father’s independent Pizzeria. Assisted over radio by her brother, she dodges and dives on ninjas from the evil, opposing pizza mega corporation. Opposing ninjas are bullies who do whatever they can to slow our girl down, tripping and teasing her along the way. Taking care of Gemma’s emotional needs by buying new outfits and investing in things like chocolate, video games and bubble baths also help keep her running strong. Similarly, Gemma gets to know the neighbours and their personal struggles, in time realising that when she thought something was weird it’s often because she didn’t understand it.
The anti-bullying message embedded in the game was strong, positive and engaging, NPG’s story writing made it easy to empathise with the intended idea. Along the delivery paths, if Gemma was thwarted too many times she fell in defeat, fighting for the strength of character to continue would mean a less energetic performance. Cut scenes were presented in an anime/manga style of text/still images with voiceover. This anime style bled into the gameplay and level design, perfectly matching each mood the storyline evoked. How this all enveloped the player through the short campaign was so effortlessly engaging that a 5-year-old could absorb some constructive life lessons from Gemma and her comrades.
Musically speaking there were distinct, motivational tones playing in the background, some became more intense or more sombre depending on the circumstance. What music there was blended into the background, making a minimal impression overall. Being honest I felt there could have been more tunes, especially more of the upbeat tracks that came during power-up events whilst free running. These were the melodies that had me focused and excited, when they ended it was like some of the motivation had drained away. The motivational impact of music is something I believe is underestimated and I think that NPG is an example of a sublime composition concept that was never fully formed.
Artistically NPG hit the nail on the head, it was fun, easy to see as Gemma somersaulted rapidly across the skyline, and appropriate for a variety of ages with its clean cut cartoon style. Side scrolling mechanics demand an environment that seamlessly slides up, down and side to side. Without hesitation I say that Disparity Games achieved this wonderfully (at least I can attest to this confidently on the Xbox), there was no lag or hesitation when the scenery shifted and Gemma sprung from landing to rooftop. Sometimes breaks to playing rhythm happened but they were player induced by failing to execute a jump correctly or being interrupted by the environment and pesky ninjas.
Something inherently uplifting about the themes throughout Ninja Pizza Girl was the idea that no person is perfect. Everyone has their own personal struggles which impact how they see the world around them: it is an all too relatable theme. In a self-fulfilling prophecy the game itself wasn’t perfect but it was entertaining, positive and had so many redeeming qualities that it is all too easy to forgive the mistakes. Our resident Youtuber Simon ‘Drdlokd Sp4rtn’ Mawson previously covered Disparity Games’ Ninja Pizza Girl in a in his Youtube series Cross Platform Gaming here:
Simon and I also had the pleasure of speaking with matriarch of the family owned and run business Disparity Games, Nicole Stark (No relation to Ned Stark or Tony Stark, though I forgot to ask) on Indiecast here:
People often do not desire profound messages and life lessons hidden within their games, they are like the vegetables of the gaming experience: No mum I will only play violent, antagonistic games and yes I will still have a healthy world view with an appropriately curvaceous ego! Ninja Pizza Girl gives players a challenge dodging and ducking obstacles, whilst facing evil ninjas who are employed to tear Gemma and her father down. This whole experience is likeable, fun and filled with replay value. Considering that on any platform in Australia PlayStation, Xbox, Steam, this title is under $15 the game is definitely worth your hard earned money. Looking to kill a day during the weekend or wind down after work, NPG is an easy game to kill in a few hours and can be shared with friends and family alike.
About: Sarah Rigg
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