Early Delivery: A Look At Ninja Pizza Girl

By Cara Ellison on July 31st, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

NINJA PIZZA!
A cyberpunk kid ninja freerunning is across city roofs, there’s always a Daft Punk beat behind the straining leaps she takes over yawning blackness below: one two, jump, land, one two, jump, land, duck, now admittedly, she pants, this Daft Punk soundtrack is because 2001 me is listening a lot to Discovery, and Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger plays, often, everywhere…. one two, jump, land, one two, jump, land, duck – VAULT. VAULT.

But those were silly daydreams and twenty-seven year old me laughs at her and thinks, hah, sixteen year old me, now I can play two levels of a prototype side-scrolling action platformer Ninja Pizza Girl, a year before it comes out, and it’s the platformer you always speculated should happen. Here are my first impressions of a little teenage fantasy.

Set in a dystopian near-future, Ninja Pizza Girl is a side-scrolling action platformer that follows a teenage girl and her family Pizzeria’s struggle for independence against the uncontested might of the pizza mega-corporations. Follow Gemma as she navigates a world where slums teeter on top of skyscrapers, where people live out their lives without seeing the ground, where powerful mega-corporations exploit the skills and aspirations of the poor to maximise their profit margins. In a culture twisted by corporate propaganda, Gemma must fight to keep her ideals, her family and their business intact in face of the most merciless enemies known to any teenage girl – other teenagers.

NINJA PIZZA!

The idea is that you have to run over rooftops to deliver pizza, using your teen ninja skills to overcome obstacles and enemies and Extremely Large Gaps. You are timed, though it seems currently to be incidental. You use A/D to run, space to jump and right click to slide and crouch. Jump actions also include bopping sneering teen ninjas who call you a loser on the head. Then you deliver pizza to some trouserless wonder, one of whom really resembles a grumpy, semi-naked man I once unpleasantly had to share a pizza restaurant with in Manila.

NINJA PIZZA!

In short, all of the art is very evocative of a dark-scorched city dystopia. Ninja Pizza Girl’s world certainly is pleasing to look at. It’s like the neo-noir future I always picture when I read the title of that James Lee Burke book, Neon Rain (though that book is not about the future). The three-person team at Disparity Games is composed of Jason Stark, a veteran art director who has worked for Rare, Animal Logic and Microsoft, his wife, the animator Nicole Stark who was one of the first women developers in Brisbane, and their sixteen year old daughter Raven Stark, who, besides sounding like a dark-worded heroine from Game of Thrones does the 2D art in the game and all the promotional materials. With such an art focussed team it’s not a surprise that the game looks beautiful and that the animation (particularly of the bad-ass flipping over stuff) is wonderful.

NINJA PIZZA!

In this year-early build my ninja girl is capable. I was supplied with the first two short tutorial levels, one that was composed of fairly simple boxes and pipes to jump over and under, slopes to slide down gracefully, air conditioning units to flip up and over. The second level included trampolines to bounce gleefully off, and a few fun wall jumps to help you get to a rooftop with ninja boys to defeat. Though the jumping and sense of freedom was rewarding, and the levels felt vast, controls sometimes felt slow to respond, or perhaps it is the animations that look a little stiff, and sometimes the context-sensitive edge-flips could have been faster. In short, the flow of the thing needs a little work, I think, for it to be a great game, and not just wish-fulfilment on my part. But it’s such an early prototype that I’m pretty sure it will get Harder Better Faster Stronger. And I liked the rave-vibe music. It was, as teen me would have said shrugging, pretty cool.

NINJA PIZZA!

Most interesting of all is that the team is planning on tracking Gemma’s self esteem, not her health, so that when you are knocked down by ninja bullies your self-esteem is knocked instead. I think this is a touch of genius.

The cute teen humour though, was interesting – ‘I thought you were a ninja?!’ ‘I googled it!’ is sort of sweet, and it mainly just creates in me a sense of jealousy that, at sixteen years old, I couldn’t just have been called Raven and have sat around making videogames with my parents. ‘For honour. For Family. For Pizza,’ almost seems like a better House Stark motto, anyway.

Track Ninja Pizza Girl‘s progress here.

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54 Comments »

  1. Alexander says:

    NINJA PIZZA!

  2. Keyrock says:

    So this is like side-scrolling Mirror’s Edge?

  3. nimzy says:

    House Stark’s pizza delivery motto: “Pizza is coming.”

  4. BenAttenborough says:

    You need to be quick if you’re going to grab a pizza the action

  5. Greggh says:

    The premise had me to brim with joy… too bad about the execution itself :

    This article is full of promises.

  6. DrScuttles says:

    Somehow the fact that a family worked on this together touches me and gives me a glowy snuggly feel on the inside of my ribcage. What is happening to me.
    The idea of self-confidence affecting gameplay is something I’d like to see explored me (I’m sure there are already some explorations of it, I’m just admittedly ignorant of them). Like if you knocked over someone’s mug in an Elder Scrolls-like and they confront you over it, only your vision goes all red at the edges and shakes a little and you can only mumble vague platitudes that you’re forced to repeat louder which only infuriates them more. And the worst part of it all is that this happens in your own damn house.
    And there’s never enough pizza in games. There better be no penalty for fudging up anchovy deliveries.

  7. The Army of None says:

    How very Snow Crash!

  8. Drake Sigar says:

    Wise man say “forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza.”

  9. Tukuturi says:

    I didn’t realize rampart was an adjective.

  10. kwyjibo says:

    Ninjas deliver burgers. They are the real ultimate power.

  11. adam.jutzi says:

    I think this game will either be good or bad. Perhaps average.

    • grechzoo says:

      You must be chilly out there on that ledge.

      You should consider joining me on this splendid fence.

      That reminds me, refridgerated left over two for tuesday dominos awaits patiently, ready to clog me up and render a half sleepness night.

      Away I go.

      P.S. I Love RPS and every single little tiny one of its’ readers.

  12. rockman29 says:

    Any inspiration from Snow Crash? Book opens with a ninja delivery guy.. lol. And a ninja delivery girl by happenstance after what happens early on.. lol.

    They even deliver pizza. Mafia pizza!

    Does this game deliver Mafia pizza?

  13. The Random One says:

    You can read the dev introduction as if Jason’s wife was called Microsoft. I will read it in that manner now and laugh. Ha ha.

  14. sabasNL says:

    Ninjas? Awesome!
    Pizzas? Awesome!
    Girls? Awes- Wait, what’s that?

  15. obd2works says:

    BDM Programmer
    Most interesting of all is that the team is planning on tracking Gemma’s self esteem, not her health, so that when you are knocked down by ninja bullies your self-esteem is knocked instead. I think this is a touch of genius.

  16. spartan117au says:

    That first paragraph reminds me a lot of Snow Crash.

  17. Ergates_Antius says:

    I don’t like being Mr Negativity but:
    “Most interesting of all is that the team is planning on tracking Gemma’s self esteem, not her health, so that when you are knocked down by ninja bullies your self-esteem is knocked instead. I think this is a touch of genius.”

    How is this any different from tracking her health? Just renaming the health bar to “Self-esteem” bar is not really changing anything in any meaningful way. You get hit you, lose stuff. If you run out of stuff, you lose.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I never thought I’d say this about any feature in a game ever, but…

      Duke Nukem Forever did this first. Duke has an “Ego” bar. When Duke takes a bullet, his ego takes a knock. And he can get a permanent boost to his ego by admiring his reflection in mirrors.

      It’s still a health bar by any other name, and this one sounds the same.

  18. golem09 says:

    Negative Feedback incoming :(
    The running animation looks way to slow. For a normal human that is. If she’s supposed to be a ninja, this looks like slow motion. This already turns me off.

  19. Pippy says:

    Heroine Protagonist

  20. Reapy says:

    I’m going to jump in the negativity here too. 50 comments, granted mostly puns, but many a good projects get less than 15, why all the interest here? That trailer shows me a basically crappy student art project that followed the unity platformer tutorial. Background art and character design is nice, but it stops there.

    Animations are clearly hand animated and done poorly, they are stiff and awkward. When head jumping those two guys she bounces before making contact with them.

    Very nice that a family is making a game together, but the interesting part begins and ends with that.

  21. Megakoresh says:

    So THAT’s why my parents told me that I was really talented at giving them a headache. Apparently that’s what teen’s way of defeating enemies is!
    This looks like Dust Force sort of game, I like that. It will need to have super-slick controls to be good though.

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