Play On: Ninjago Skybound

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So… having never invested in Ninjago as a theme, it seems to have taken up a little more of my time than originally planned this year.  So, having looked at a couple of sets, I thought I would (once again) succumb to the message on the side of the box… Free App: Available on iTunes or Google Play.  So, while Mighty Micros is an arcade racer, and Adventures in Elvendale is a colour matching casual game, Ninjago: Skybound is a platform game.  The opening screens reveal that the Ninjas’s souls, except for Kai, have been captured within the djinn blade of the evil  Nadakhan.  Kai must pass through a number of quests to rescue his friends.

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On first opening the game, cutscenes outline the plan, and you are given a choice of levels to visit in the first ‘world’. A quick tutorial on the game mechanics follow, and then you are transported to the first world.  As you arrive, you are presented with a ‘reverse IMG_9451overview’ of the world, allowing an opportunity to plan your mission.

Mechanics

The game mechanics are relatively simple: you touch the screen and run to that location.  If there is an obstacle, you need can drag your finger to set up a jump of variable height and distance. EquipmeIMG_9452nt such as the grappling gun, nunchucks and shurikens can be activated by touching on icons in the game where they can be used. Some have unlimited use in a level (grappling gun) and others are limited in the number of times they can be used. Enemy pirates can be attacked stealthily from behind, and defeated in one blow. If engaging in hand to hand combat, you must repeated tap on the enemy until they are defeated. You don’t always win however.  They can also be rapidly dispatched through the use of a flying kick.

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Touch to move over there…
Points are also gained for stealthy moves: not being seen, not being heard.  Attacks from behind are more likely to be successful with a single blow.  Conversely, if you blunder in, being seen by every pirate, you are likely to use up any stealth bonus faster than you can shout out ‘Hey, over here!  Here I am.’

Goals

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Drag to set up a jump.
To complete a level, you get from the start point to the en
d point, and defeat the boss at the end.  Some levels do not feature a boss-fight, and Jay gets access to at the vehicle to transport him to the next level.

Each level contains 5 stars to locate: some are hidden, or require special equipment to access.  Completing the set of levels in a world, and obtaining at least 20 stars opens up the next realm (40 stars in total to open the third realm).  Some stars are ‘hidden’ behind wooden panels and require the nunchucks to break the wall down.  Some require an ability to climb higher than usual (there’s a piece of equipment for that!)  Other equipment available for purchase include a pirates disguise, a flower pot and a bowl of soup…

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Levels open up as you complete them, but it looks like something new is yet to come.
As you advance through the levels, the complexity of the maze increases, as does the level of peril: the First realm is set on the ground: you cannot fall off to your doom.  Subsequent levels do not afford this luxury, and sure footing becomes an important thing.

Additional abilities and equipment are

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Look, something shiny.
obtained by exchanging them for studs collected, in the shop at the end of each level.  There are NO in-app purchases.

 

Evaluation

The Gameplay is relatively simple, straight down the line.  There is little attempt to introduce humour into the the way the game is played or into the cutscenes. The music in the home screens becomes quite grating very quickly, whereas the music playing along with the game leaves no doubt that story line has Asian influences. The user interface is reasonably satisfying, especially once I worked out that a flying kick would rid you of most henchmen fairly rapidly.

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Points are awarded for collecting stars, studs, defeating enemies, and employing stealthy techniques.  Some of these are mutually exclusive.
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Barrels offer an opportunity to hide from the pirate henchmen.
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Here is a ninja who has not mastered the art of ‘Not being Seen’
Some stars can be tricky to locate, but the compass makes them easy to find once it has been purchased.  The boss fights are a little frustating, as they only really seem to involve hitting the screen repeatedly, and dodging whatever special attack may be used (loud singing, flinging spider webs across the room, getting hit with Clancy’s mop).

In Conclusion

All that said, I have spent more money on less engaging apps. Repeating levels for completing the Star collection is engaging enough, and you can set challenges for your self such as ‘keep the stealth bonus intact’ or ‘be really noisy, like a bull in a china shop’. For myself, I found it lost its appeal and became all about the grind to collect the stars.

The total game play is simple enough to complete, although there appear to be a couple of locked ‘coming soon’ levels yet to be made available after completing the work on Misfortune’s Keep.

I am happy to give it this game a safe 3 abitrary praise units. It is suitable for younger users, in so much as I suspect the combat they would simulate with their min figures would be no less aggressive than is displayed here.  There is no blood or gore, as you would expect from such a game.

 

Have you given this game a try?

What did you think?

Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook.

 

Play well.

 Addendum: July 2016: the next level has gone online recently through iTunes.

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