Ninja Pizza Girl Leaps, Ducks, Bounds Onto Kickstarter

By Ben Barrett on July 15th, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

Ninja Pizza Girl is, to put it mildly, an odd one. Its tagline of “a serious game about self-esteem, bullying and resilience – and pizza delivering ninjas” really does capture it. Purely to play it’s an energetic platformer that requires frame-perfect timing to succeed, but doesn’t punish failure so harshly as to be frustrating. The framing is half ridiculous cyberpunk errand running, half serious commentary on the difficulties of teenagehood. Cara enthused about its very existence last year, while I’ve just played the new demo with a half-smile, half-frown. It’s tied to a Kickstarter, after 35,000 AUD, that launched a couple of days ago. Leap over the barrier for some thoughts.

Being a teenager is shit.

Like, really, properly garbage. No matter what other struggles you face or privileges you’ve been afforded, it’s a 6+ year cavalcade of mockery, social awkwardness and confusion. I’m glad there’s now games trying to express some of that because, as much as I enjoyed it, shooting another nineteen colourful bots on DM-Rankin didn’t exactly cover all the bases. I’m also happy this one is solid: even in this “pre-pre-pre-Alpha” state, movement in Ninja Pizza Girl is fast and the levels are challenging. There’s multiple routes and enough collectibles to make an optimal path difficult to summise.

Whether this can all combine into a meditation on teenagehood as strong as Gone Home or a platformer as fun as, uh, any one of the ridiculously good indie platformers remains to be seen. It needs refining, the movement feeling a little disconnected from surfaces and unresponsive to jerky reactions. The narrative is on the lighter side so far and will presumably stay that way in the majority, but I’d hope to see some introspection beyond damage taking the form of losing self-esteem. It has all the tools to be great, with parents-and-daughter dev team Disparity Games having the experience, both life- and game-wise, to make something special.

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13 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    c-Row says:

    Snow Crash: The Jump’n'Run?

  2. RichardDastardly says:

    Jeff Jaques from Questionable Content called. He wants his character back :P

    Also, can we stop Kickstarting indie platformers as rapidly?

    • CKScientist says:

      Neal Stephenson called. He wants his character back.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Originality Alert Detected! A single pizza-delivering martial artist character already exists in pop culture. This concept is hereby banned from any further use. Instead, we suggest a bald space marine, amnesiac swordsman, or sassy cartoon animal.

    • The Random One says:

      Oh, come on. A Jeff Jacques female character without a crippling social phobia? Literally unconceivable.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        I really don’t understand why people act like Jeph has some kind of creepy fetish for dysfunctional women. For one thing, his male characters have just as many problems, and for another, the basic theme of the entire comic is people with issues learning how to form healthy social relationships, deal with their problems, and grow emotionally. I feel like you folks have based your opinions on an internet version of the Telephone Game without actually reading the comic.

        This is of course wildly off-topic. In my defense, YOU STARTED IT.

  3. Distec says:

    I don’t fully understand why some titles proclaim to deal with a kind of social issue, but then bury it under a layer of farce. It seems almost like a shield. Like you can fall back on the “NINJA PIZZA LULZ” part if the other half fails or gets heavy.

    • montorsi says:

      Probably because the theme is about nostalgia and that’s a bit more enjoyable in a video game when viewed wistfully than morosely.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      It is a shield, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For one thing, unless you’re doing straight-up Twine-style interactive fiction, video games need mechanics, and it’s tricky (though not impossible) to make running or shooting or platforming be about depression, or old age, or bullying, in a respectful way. For another, heavy stuff can easily get oppressive in a way that makes gamers not want to continue. The farcical elements are the “relief” in “comic relief,” the sugar coating that keeps the player’s attention long enough for the real message to penetrate.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jackablade says:

      In this instance, the ninja pizza antics were what made up the game’s original design, while the teen angst was ladled on afterwards.

      Remains to be seen how well that works out for them.

  4. GameQB11 says:

    something about this kickstarter annoys me. I cant quite put my finger on it. I wish it nothing but the worst.

  5. Antistar says:

    Ugh; what ‘alpha’, ‘beta’, etc mean has become so distorted they’re basically meaningless terms now.

    Traditionally ‘pre-alpha’ would mean that the game isn’t playable in any sense yet – as in you can’t start up the program and really… *do* anything. So I can only take “pre-pre-pre-alpha” to mean that everything we’re seeing here is a figment of our collective imaginations, since it seems to imply that the creators haven’t thought up the concept yet.