Also available PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, and Windows
Ninja Pizza Girl is a game I have been awaiting for a long time, and it's a game for which I was actually pretty hyped. I back this game on Kickstarter however many years ago the campaign was ongoing. It was a cool concept - a platformer based around a ninja who delivers pizza. Since I delivered pizza at the time, I was interested. One of the few surprising cases where a Kickstarter campaign actually delivers the promised product, I was eager to download this on my Wii U when I got my code, especially since I'd played the Steam demo a year or so ago and liked what I saw. I should have taken it as an omen when the North American eShop screwed up and wouldn't let me download the game for two days. I REALLY wanted to like this game. Unfortunately, I just can't.
At first glance, the game plays a lot like a low budget 2D Mirror's Edge. The first problem that you will notice is the frame rate. I'm not sure if this is exclusive to Wii U or if other platforms have this issue, but the game ran at 15-20 fps pretty much the whole time. I've read that it runs MUCH smoother on PC, and I don't remember a frame rate issue when I played on Steam, but it's rough on Wii U. The visuals don't impress at all, and while I naturally cut some slack for indie games, both the character models and the environments just feel bland and uninspired. One big plus in the game's favor, in my opinion, however, is the soundtrack. The sound effects are so-so, but the music is pretty good, ranging from subdued to outright dubstep. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but it's definitely mine.
The writing in the game is okay, I guess, but the writing is also where we get to what made me REALLY want to like the game. The central message of the game is about bullying, and while that's a fairly cliché theme, it's an important one that I don't think gets stressed enough, especially with the game's focus on empowering victims. Even if I don't like the game as a game - and despite my efforts, I definitely do not - I respect the hell out of it and the small team that made it for one single scene. At the end of one of your deliveries, you deliver to a woman who asks you to wait a minute when you knock on the door (she was getting dressed, apparently). When she opens the door, she mentions that she hadn't had a chance to go shopping for clothes since she transitioned and that it was hard to find a way to feel feminine in men's clothing. Your character tells her that she shouldn't worry about that because clothes aren't what make one masculine or feminine. That was it, end of scene. What struck me was its normality. In the same way that Mass Effect included blatantly gay characters but presented in a way that made it a normal, unnoteworthy part of life, Ninja Pizza Girl did that with a transgender character. The scene wasn't particularly skillfully written as it's very abrupt and obvious about the point it's trying to make, but it's still a step in the right direction. As one who has a good number of dearly loved transgender friends, I appreciated that. A lot. Even if it's in an indie game that doesn't run particularly well and that most people will never play, normalizing transgender people is something that I will always respect and appreciate the developers for including.
Between the performance issues, the bland visuals, and okay-I-guess quality of the writing, I just can't make myself like this game. I really want to; even if the writing isn't particularly good, I can appreciate the attempt to craft a socially aware and progressive plot and dialogue for the game. Unfortunately, the gameplay just doesn't back it up. Perhaps on PC with the absence of the performance issues, I could look at this game a bit more favorably, but on Wii U, I just can't recommend it.
My Rating - 2 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.