LEGO is one of the only kids’ franchises that have made a lasting transition to the video games market.
From Harry Potter to Batman and even Star Wars to the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean game, the LEGO brand has achieved strong presence at games retail.
Now Warner Bros is publishing LEGO Ninjago on DS, the spiritual successor to 2009’s portable strategy title LEGO Battles. This title focuses on the traditional LEGO sets rather than a massive movie franchise.
Ninjago allows players to become a master of Spinjitzu – an art form where characters spin so fast they become tornadoes – which lets them defeat their enemies.
There are both good and evil single-player campaigns to get through, with a total of 42 missions, as well as a range of multiplayer battle modes.
Gamers can wield ninja weapons, fight dragons and build their own army – whether it’s the Spinjitzu heroes or the Skulkin villains. The game blends strategy with action as gamers command their squad to build, attack and explore.
From the in-game Dojo hub, players can select a variety of modes, with the stylus used to enter doors, select options or command troops to do battle. And once they have gained enough experience, users can upgrade their heroes to unlock new weapons and powerful spells.
The game arrives following the launch of a range of LEGO Ninjago toys which hit shelves this year.
These include Ninjago-themed LEGO construction sets, collectible spinners and cards – all backed by a marketing campaign encompassing TV ads, a shopping centre sampling tour, toy shop POS materials and a bespoke website at www.ninjago.com.
A brand awareness programme was also set up to encourage boys to engage with the Ninjago brand (see ‘Martial crafts’). This is on top of cross-game promotions and global toy awards.
With up to 30 playable characters, the popular Ninjago brand and enjoyable strategy gameplay that will also make the player think, LEGO Ninjago on DS should resonate strongly with boys and LEGO fans.
LEGO Ninjago teamed up with the UK Martial Arts Association in a search of the UK’s ‘Master Spinners’, in order to promote the new line of toys.
A special Ninjago area has been added to MMO LEGO Universe. Warner Bros also originally supported the PC title’s October 2010 release with a sampling tour at LEGO Land and GameCity.
Top of the toys
The LEGO Ninjago Starter Set was awarded Toy of the Year and Boys Toy of the Year at the Australian Toy Hobby and Nursery Fair 2011 in March.