EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Family owned pizza store
Ninja Pizza Girl follows the exploits of Gemma, a delivery girl for a family owned pizza store. Her father's store is in direct competition to MegaCo Pizza, a huge pizza conglomerate, and it is up to Gemma to be the face of the company to the home-bound pizza consumers. She's like no other pizza delivery girl, though, as she delivers all the pizzas on foot running across the city to make sure the pizzas arrive on time to those faithful customers.
Ninja Pizza Girl is a basically a speedrun style platformer requiring gamers, as Gemma, to navigate the cityscape in order to reach the destination in an allotted time - pretty much like Pizza Hut wanting to get a pizza to your door in less than thirty minutes. Of course, this is a game and each level must be completed in only a few minutes. Fortunately, Gemma has a range of skills that enable her to complete the task. She leaps and slides with parkour skills reminiscent of Faith from Mirror's Edge, albeit in a side scrolling platformer.
Ninja Pizza Girl allows both the keyboard and controller in which to move through the levels. The controls are really simple. In fact, apart from moving, there are only two controls to learn – jump and slide. I did find the controller was easier, especially for moving around the levels. On the other hand, I also found the controller to be somewhat unresponsive, particularly when I needed to jump and slide in quick succession to destroy a wooden barrier or nullify an enemy. In these cases it became rather frustrating, knowing that you've pressed the correct combinations of buttons only for it to go unrewarded. Luckily, these occasions were few and far between.
It often helps that the levels are non-linear, allowing Gemma to navigate different paths in order to reach the customer. There is little penalty for missing a jump, apart from having to possibly take a route that is not as optimal as required. Indeed, Gemma cannot actually die - she can become concussed though, which is time consuming. And with all the roadblocks placed in Gemma's path, the last thing you want to be doing is to spend time reviving her from a series of hard falls.
The workers from the rival pizza business have their own nasty (as in mean) Ninjas. These ninjas are bullies, and as well as teasing Gemma, block her path and attempt to prevent her from delivering the delicious, crusty meal. There are also a number of other impediments to Gemma reaching her destination. Objects such as moving and rotating platforms, electrical currents, buzzsaws and even giant fans that generate gusts of wind all do their best to prevent the piazza from being delivered in an edible state. Personally, I'd say that a pizza being delivered by a parkour jumping girl would probably not arrive in an edible state in the first place, but the customers in Ninja Pizza Girl seem happy, so Gemma must possess some special pizza stabilising device.
There are actually two game modes in Ninja Pizza Girl. The Story Mode is more of a collection of short stories. Each chapter contains a mini narrative, with Gemma showing a compassionate side towards her faithful customers, often bringing other characters together. Indeed, Gemma is not only a delivery girl, but someone who lends an ear to other people's worries. The compassion shown by Gemma definitely gives the game a human touch. The second modes is the Speedrun mode. This requires gamers to race through the levels as fast as possible competing against the times of other online competitors. Leaderboards show the fastest times, giving gamers a chance to see how they compare with others.
Sights and sounds of the city
Ninja Pizza Girl has an old-school, mid-90's platformer visual feel to it. If anything, the backgrounds are a little bland, but considering that the stories play out at night, I can forgive that. Gemma herself has a Lara Croft look about her, with her ponytail and delivery uniform. And her jumping and flipping moves are also reminiscent of the Tomb Raider heroine. The story plays out in comic book style cut-scenes, complete with speech bubbles for the characters. The dialogue is often cheesy, but who doesn't like a little cheese on their pizza?
I actually love the music used in Ninja Pizza Girl. Each level has an upbeat electronic tune, and I often felt that Gemma would have been right at home in a nightclub with the background music. Again, given that the game is set during the evening, the choice of music works wonderfully well.
Ninja Pizza Girl has a heap of potential. The levels are well designed, giving gamers a chance to complete them, even if a jump to a ledge is not made, or if Gemma is felled by an opposition pizza ninja. And working out which route is the most optimal to complete Gemma's delivery is half the fun. Controls are simple, with just jumping and sliding, but are occasionally unresponsive. The story (or stories) give a human touch to the game and gives some depth to Gemma's character, even if the dialogue is often humorous in a Dad Joke kind of way. At this stage, Ninja Pizza Girl is a short burst of fun. It would be well worth a look once it gains a little bit of polish.
There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.