Legos have been around since 1932, and we just now got around to making “The Lego Movie”. That’s something I don’t understand (I do love that movie though). What I do understand however, is why they keep making more and more Lego games. You see, Legos are something that never truly loses its charm. On top of that, Legos as a toy is as limitless in its possibilities for adaptation, as it is unending in the potential for new creations. Suffice to say, it’s the toy that never runs out of ideas because the ideas come from you.
Lego toy sets have been made for everything from Star Wars, to Batman, to a bevy of original Lego sets based on their own ideas. Because Legos are such a force for creativity and imagination, they go together with other franchises like peanut butter and jelly. It seems like anything and everything can be turned into Legos. Now of course, these toys have been turned into their own line of video games. We’ve seen plenty of them over the years, so the question arises, “When does it end, or should it ever end?” Do we need more Lego games, or is the series getting stale?
The answer to that question is complicated. Why don’t we start from the beginning and see what the Lego games have given us over the years?
It All Started With a Brick: A Brief History of Lego Games
The first ever Lego video game was released in 1997 for the Windows PC. It was called Lego Island. It was an action-adventure game with a great sense of humor and characters with unique abilities. The game was played in first person and had you exploring an open world island. There was a story to be had, but you could also explore at your leisure. It was followed by several sequels over the years.
Fast forward to the year 2001. After several Lego titles including chess, racing, and sequels to Lego Island, the series saw it’s first title based on a major mainstream franchise. It was called Lego Creator: Harry Potter. The game put players in the shoes of characters from the first film and provided various activities for them to complete. You could also create your own figures in the game, giving it that iconic Lego feel.
Now we’re in 2005 and for me, this was when Lego games really showed up on the radar. This was when they released Lego: Star Wars came out and let loose upon the world the quintessential “Lego Game”. It was a winning formula; two player co-op, simple mechanics, fun puzzles, hilarious representations of set pieces from the films, and more collectibles than you could shake a lightsaber at. I had some time with it on the PS2 and I fell in love instantly. As time went on, they released more games based on other hit franchises. Star Wars saw a few subsequent releases, followed by a few Lego: Indiana Jones games.
Lego continued this trend into their releases of games based on Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the recently released Lego: The Hobbit. There were other releases here though, ones that pushed the envelope in new and exciting ways. For example, the Lego: Batman games featured their own original stories and incorporated lots of iconic DC characters, all of which were available to play as in the Free Play mode once they were unlocked. After that we saw Lego: Marvel Super Heroes with its own story as well. What really ties all of this unique releases together though is the fact that starting with the release of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, the Lego characters in the game actually talked! Up until then everything was conveyed through noises and body language, but now the darn things actually spoke, and the they were hilarious.
These things sell, and for good reason. However, there have have been a lot of them. So, now that we’re all got up, let’s talk about the future. Is the Lego series getting stale? Now my friends, let us tackle that question you have been yearning to hear the answer to for the last five hundred words or so.
Time to Face Facts, is it still fresh, or do we need to throw this Stale Bread Out?
To answer my header, I would say neither. If the Lego game series is indeed a loaf of bread in this analogy, (you know I love my analogies) then I would say it simply needs to be put in the toaster for a while to give it that re-invigoration it needs. Nothing is wrong with the basic formula of a Lego game, but it’s been done enough times now that it needs to evolve. I know you love your Bulbasaur, but it’s time to let it evolve into Ivysaur.
Lego games are indeed getting stale, but they’re not beyond saving by any means. The Lego: The Hobbit game for example introduced some cool new mechanics, but largely it was the same. The Lego Universe MMO that kinda flopped entirely was something new and while it didn’t work, I still think it was good to expand. I think the gameplay needs more variety and complexity. Yes the target audience is kids, but kids also play games like Skylanders which is arguably a mildly complex dungeon crawling RPG but they handle it fine!
Traveller’s Tales makes great games, and their original work with Lego Batman and Lego Marvel shows that they can make an awesome story as well. Don’t hold Lego back with simplistic gameplay and no penalties for dying. Make it real, give it life through more complexity and additional gameplay mechanics and you’ll see that the kids and adults that play it are smarter than you think.
What do you think of the Lego games? What would you change about them? Tell us in the comments!
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 04/12/2014