Stealth or strength? It's your call in Lego Ninjago: Skybound
Lego Ninjago: Skybound is a fun, wonderfully animated platformer game for Windows 10 based on the Ninjago Lego series. You play the role of the hero ninja who must sneak or battle his way through a gang of pirates who have overtaken Ninjago Islands. Ultimately you face the evil Djinn Nadakhan who is using Ninjago Island's parts to rebuild his kingdom.
Graphics are colorful and represent the Lego series of games well. Lego Ninjago has a nice difficulty level with plenty of pirate minions to sneak past or battle. Game controls could be better, but after a few rounds of gameplay, they become a little more fluid.
Lego Ninjago: Skybound is a free game, available for Windows 10 PC and Mobile and overall, a fun time waster to spend a little down time with.
Lego Ninjago: Skybound launches to a series of storyboards that outlines the game's backstory. From there you go straight into the action of the game. You play the role of the hero ninja, Jay, who must travel across each platform level to a portal that carries him to the next level. Along the way, there are plenty of pirates to battle and Lego studs to collect. The studs you collect can be used in the game's store to purchase or upgrade gear.
Levels are laid out on a map of Ninjago Island with the option to visit the game's store where you can pick up tools and weapons that improve your ninja abilities. For example, there is a grappling hook that can help your ninja jump up to levels quickly and a throwing star to extend your attack range.
The game layout offers a series of platforms that you have to navigate around to get to the exit portal. The path, however, is not always straightforward. Luckily, a flyover of the level runs prior to the start of each level to give you a feel for the path you should take.
Movement with Lego Ninjago is a little cumbersome and took some time to get accustomed to. Horizontal movement on touch devices is done by tapping on the screen where you want your ninja to move to. Jumps are accomplished by tapping and holding on the ninja, then dragging your finger around to reveal a jump guide. Horizontal movement of your touch controls the distance of the jump and vertical movements adjust the elevation of the jump. When everything is lined up just right, release the screen to see your ninja leap.
Non-touch devices rely on mouse or trackpad controls. Click your pointer to the spot where your ninja needs to move to and click/hold the left button to line up your jumps.
Lining up your jumps can take time with either control method, time that you may not have to be stealthy or escape a losing battle. I think game controls would be more fluid with an on-screen joystick for movement and buttons for jumping. To the game's credit, after playing Lego Ninjago for a short while, the touch controls do become a little less tedious, but as the enemies become more aggressive, they can be a bit of a hindrance.
Speaking of enemies, you can approach gameplay in two ways. You can sneak around and avoid the enemy pirates or battle them head on. While Lego Ninjago offers this option, the reality of things has you doing a little of both.
Pirates are on the lookout for your ninja and their line of sight is highlighted in gray as they keep watch. If the gaze turns red, they have spotted the ninja and attack. There is the option to time your movements to avoid the pirates or hide behind objects until they pass. Items available to hide behind are highlighted in green and tapping them causes your ninja to dash behind them.
If you choose the battle approach, all you need to do is tap on the pirate to have your ninja attack. If you do not care for the toe to toe approach, you can jump your ninja and pounce on them from above. The jump attack is a bit more effective than a frontal attack.
Lego Ninjago: Skybound is a fun game to spend a little down time with. The graphics and animations stay true to the Lego series of games with plenty of color and detail. The free Windows 10 game does play out a little better on a tablet or PC. The Windows 10 Mobile version isn't shabby, but the larger screen brings out more detail in the animations.
The controls could be better, though. Timing is a key element to success with Lego Ninjago and it can take time to get those jumps lined up right. I did find that the grappling hook helped, but the game controls needs to be more user-friendly.
While there is room for improvement, overall, Lego Ninjago: Skybound is a Windows 10 game that has appeal for the Lego fan and anyone else looking for a challenging, almost puzzle-like, platformer game.
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George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.