Ninja Pizza Girl is the Mirror’s Edge of pizza delivery making. That’s the best description for this indie platformer, and to be honest it’s highly accurate and arguably more fun than EA’s most recent attempts at revising the parkour based series itself.
You play as Gemma, a 16 year old destined to be a pizza delivery ninja. In this world it’s about running, climbing and obstacle avoiding than it is driving in a car and being followed on a GPS tracker, and that’s not mentioning the other pizza ninja’s lying in wait to take you down. Each level has a timer that determines your overall score as you run over the rooftops. It’s an interesting spin on not just the endless runner concept, but also the idea of a neon drenched future, where the world is governed by evil mega corporations and, as the game suggests, ‘quality pizza is hard to come by’.
The challenge comes in finding a rhythm, timing your jumps and slides to progress through each level at fast a pace as you can. Again I go back to the Mirror’s Edge comparison, though you could also substitute that with the recent 2D iterations of Assassin’s Creed or Prince of Persia, in that you’re combating an enemy or obstacle with speed and precision than fists or fire. The controls can be a little slippery at times, I did find myself cursing under my breath the first time I took on an enemy ninja as my jump or slide didn’t connect the way I hoped. Whether that’s just me or the game’s design is hard to say, in reality there’s no real complexity to the controls, but I do feel like a little extra speed may have helped things along.
The setting is definitely aimed at a younger crowd, there’s jokes here that will appeal and some of the ‘issues’ Gemma comes across can be related back to any young female players who pick it up. She’s a strong willed character, someone who values family and responsibility over power and prestige, and that’s something to live up to in the real world (let alone the pizza delivering type).
Visually, it’s a little mixed. The hand drawn characters that appear during dialog sequences are colourful and well designed, and I feel as if the game would have been better suited to stick with those 2D animations instead of going with 3D models. That’s not to say it’s bad, the engine itself is solid if a little bland in some textures, but I feel as if it would have popped better if it were more like a living cartoon world. It’s not as ‘white’ as Mirror’s Edge, in fact I’d say there’s more of an ‘edge’ to its colours than EA’s effort, which helps to enforce that although the character and her story is engaging and at times witty, the world around her is anything but.
Despite the feedback, I really enjoyed Ninja Pizza Girl. This is the second time I’ve played it, having explored it previously on PC, and it holds up well in the transition to console. I’m curious, though, whether it could find an even bigger audience in a place this game feels suited for, i.e. iOS and Android. There’s a lot of content here, but as runners go not many make their presence as well known on an Xbox or PS4 than on a mobile or tablet. Hopefully the mobile editions will make an appearance soon, I’m looking forward to trying it out.
Ninja Pizza Girl will appeal to all ages, and that’s its blessing. The characters resonate, the gameplay is solid and enjoyable and though the visuals may not be remembered or rewarded, they do the job of telling an entertaining story. Don’t forget, developers Disparity Games are a two person family team, so what they’ve accomplished here (not just releasing a game, but having it ported to other devices) should be commended. Not many get this far in game development, and I certainly wish them well going forward with whatever they decide to do next.
You can currently find Ninja Pizza Girl on Xbox One, PS4 and PC via Steam.
Mark Isaacson is the editor of PN2. Go say hi @Mark_D_Isaacson