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Game: Ninja Pizza Girl
Genre: Action, Indie, Early Access
Developer: Disparity Games
Publisher: Disparity Games
Release Date: Sept 30, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating: 9/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 9/10
Replay Value: 8/10
Disparity games brings us Ninja Pizza Girl, a platformer about Gemma, a teenager working as delivery girl at her father’s pizzeria. In between the story deals a little with self esteem, depressive moods, bullying, et all.
I was pleasantly surprised by this platformer; the graphics were actually really good (the art not quite as good, but it wasn’t bad for a cartoony style), and the performance on my lower-end PC was excellent (until you went into first person mode, more on that later). The controls were simple and comfortable, and I could pick to use either my keyboard or controller.
The music was really, really good. It was almost relaxing, and when it picked up pace it pumped up your energy enough to match, but didn’t make you nervous or stressed as some of the ‘speed’ platformers do.
The game basically consists of Gemma running and parkour/jumping through the many areas that make up this city. Along the way, and in later levels (each upping the difficulty a bit as they require more jumping and climbing) you will encounter opponent ninja delivery kids that will try to stop her and mock her. You will also be gathering various collectibles as you go (salvage, QR codes, etc) that will allow you to unlock outfits, extra goodies, and funny game modes.
The game also has a mood system (since it goes with the subject they’re going for); the worse you do on the different levels, the worse your mood gets. The worse your mood gets, the easier it is for you to collapse/fall/be unable to take the bullying. In order to improve your mood you must either buy pick-me-up items from the shop with the collectibles (games, chocolate, baths, teas… ) or new outfits (also bought with collectibles). I’m not entirely sure the message sent is right (“feel down? buy (something)!” is what it seems to say, and while it is a good way to lift your mood, it might lead to addictive behaviors on certain people, not that I actually think the average person will go out and do this obsessively, mind you), but I like the idea of the system nonetheless.
The game offers plenty of options, allowing for a highly customizable game. You can change the difficulty from really easy to really hard (by default it’s midway), the behavior of jumps, the length of time you have to finish the levels (I would have really, really loved a “timeless” option for those days I want a 0-pressure game, though) and so on. You can also use presets too if you’d rather not mess with things individually.
You can even customize how harsh you want the taunts/bullying to be, though I’m not sure why you would need this, but there you have it.
Going back to the menus, I mentioned earlier you can buy some extras. These consist of interviews, game art, and so on. It also includes “game craziness” goodies, one of which includes “first person mode”. While I loved the little option (even if I’m not a fan of first person), I do have a few things to remark about it: The drop in performance speed when playing in that mode for me was remarkable. It’s also not ‘really’ first person, since you still see the character’s head/body. (You’re basically right behind her head).In addition, the fact that the controls don’t change (you still are expected to use the left/right or a/d keys for moving forwards and changing directions) make it highly confusing and uncomfortable.
Still, I’m well aware you’re not -really- meant to play the entire game like that, so...
About the outfits you can buy, a few are repeats in color variations, and while they aren’t bad, I wasn’t overly thrilled with most of them. It would’ve been nice to see more outfit variations and either allow for a color slider to color it yourself, or simply make default colors and a wider variety.
The ambient of the city is nice, and I actually found myself liking it better when it was darker (the moodier Gemma got) than when it was brighter; not sure that was the expected outcome. It does get a little weird and slightly repetitive from time to time, but it’s not necessarily something that fully distracted me from the game itself.
There’s a last mode you can play in, “speedrun”, which includes leaderboards for those that like comparing their scores with others.
Overall I was very pleased with my playthrough of Ninja Pizza Girl, and it’s a definite recommendation from me if you like platformers.
Also, the Devs are active, supportive and helpful, which is always a plus!