Ninja Pizza Girl Review

October 11, 2015

It was back in July 2014 that Disparity Games put their hopes and dreams out across the Internet and brought Ninja Pizza Girl to Kickstarter. A small family studio based out of Noosa, Disparity Games wanted to tackle an issue that is largely avoided in videogames: bullying. With this theme in mind, Ninja Pizza Girl received positive media coverage from all across the internet and broke through its goal to be funded. Good intentions and a great message are admirable, but as they say, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’. How accurately and well can an issue as complex and bullying and its effects be portrayed in a speed based 2.5D platformer?

Ninja Pizza Girl does take you down that road towards a figurative hell, specifically depression and self-loathing, as you follow Gemma throughout her journey and lessons. While Gemma starts as an upbeat and happy girl, the constant barrage of negativity and awkward situations gradually bring her down as you progress through the game. As others around her notice her decline, they unsuccessfully try to reach out to her and help as she retreats further and further within herself. It’s a stark portrayal of the effects of bullying and one that may be startling and surprising for some. While Ninja Pizza Girl may not go all the way down the rabbit hole, this is an all too accurate depiction of the effects that bullying can cause. Disparity Games have successfully managed to portray a complex set of emotions and issues with what is a relatively small amount of dialogue and cutscenes.


Supporting this story and message is an excellent damage system built into the core mechanics of Ninja Pizza Girl. Doing away with the old adage, ‘Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,’ words are what damage you in Ninja Pizza Girl. Falling from a great height or running into a wall may slow you down, but it’s easy to pick yourself up and keep going. The real harm in Ninja Pizza Girl comes from the ninjas of Pizza MegaCo. They will try to push you down, trip you over or throw garbage in your face, and if they’re successful they will proceed to laugh and humiliate you. When this happens the world begins to dull and the music quieten, to show how the negativity is impacting you. This damage accumulates and carries over from level to level, making it imperative to stop and give Gemma some TLC from time to time. This comes in the form of buying games for her, having a cup of tea or making some new clothes. This helps to remove her from the situation at hand, and help her heal and be ready to face the world again. As you get further into the game the enemy ninjas grow in numbers and it seems like the entire word is out to get you. Even in the mechanics and level design, Disparity Games have portrayed the effects of depression and bullying on the psyche.

Similarly, the further you get into the game the more sombre the music becomes. Initially beginning with relatively upbeat and uptempo pieces, you gradually transition into slower symphonic pieces towards the end of the game. The music is of a high quality and fits the moods needed throughout the game as you progress. The only negative comes late in the game. Throughout each level, if you’re performing well enough or find a certain item you will go into a hyper state where you move faster. As well as extra visual effects, this hyper state also causes a dubstep track to start. While this marries well with the earlier levels, I found that didn’t quite match the tone of the later levels and at times got in the way of appreciating what were some fantastic musical pieces.


Ninja Pizza Girl’s weakest aspect comes in the form of its graphics. The 2D comic styled art used when dialogue plays looks great, but the 3D art used for character models and the world in general can be rough. Character models in particular don’t look great, with an unusual shiny sheen to them that is somewhat off-putting and unattractive. Textures in the terrain and levels are also fairly simple. However, the level design itself is great, with the large buildings and massive neon signs making you feel small and overwhelmed. A few more animations for landing and hurtling over obstacles would have been welcomed as well.

Realistically, in a game like Ninja Pizza Girl, the real test comes with the controls. You can have the greatest story in the world, but if the game is unplayable it would all be for naught. Controls are largely on-point in Ninja Pizza Girl, with a couple of little misses here and there. Running feels wonderful, and sliding under and down things is fun and frenetic. Jumps feel a bit floaty at times and trampolines don’t always seem to propel you the way you want to go. All in all, they’re controls that largely work, but occasionally have you jump just too far or lose your momentum as you hit a trampoline just slightly off centre and have it not trigger.


Ninja Pizza Girl does exactly what Disparity Games intended – help bring light to bullying and its effects on people. They have built an extremely competent game around this theme, including creating mechanics to help express their intended themes. I would heartily recommend Ninja Pizza Girl to anyone and everyone, and hope that its accurate depiction of bullying and depression help bring further awareness to those who may not have noticed the warning signs before.


For further reading, feel free to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview with Disparity Games.


Portrays bullying in a realistic manner
Story is portrayed well
Damage mechanic is original and excellent


Graphics don't amaze
Jumps feel floaty
Dubstep intrusions

Overall Score: