When I was first handed Lego Star Wars by my friend I thought “why on earth are you lending me a kids game?”. I may have been somewhat younger then, but I was still a man – not some boy. I was past being juvenile. I was earning a wage, getting my own place…..you know…. grown up stuff. It appears I still have a lot of growing up to do. My friend told me to just “shut up and put it on.”
With the PS2 switched on and the disc inserted, Lego Star Wars booted up to the familiar score composed by John Williams. Straight into the first cut scene and instantly I laugh. I hold my hand to my mouth sharply, hoping my friend hasn’t heard and in turn effectively admitted my guilt to actually enjoying this. The lego characters Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn are silently, with a few shoulder shrugs and mumbles, re-enacting a familiar opening scene to the Phantom Menace and it’s the parody of this scene that has got me. Obi Wan attempting to be graceful, professional and gallant in the face of his Master Qui-Gon, whom is naturally all of these things, leads to some fantastic comical moments. Hell even Jar-Jar Binks is likeable in Lego Star Wars.
It was from this moment I knew Lego games were going to continue to bridge the gap between my childhood and pretending to be an adult. Here’s a look back at the best and worst Lego Games out there.
Lego Star Wars The Complete Saga (2007)
Whilst this set has been broken up into the new trilogy and the original trilogy, it’s the complete Saga you need to own. Like many, the original set of movies hold a special place in my heart and the prequels, well lets just say I’d be happy if someone could remove those memories from my mind. With that said, TT Games and Warner Bros had a way to fuse both these stories into one completely enjoyable saga. This game had everything a Star Wars fan could want. References to the movie and in joke nods that could have fans and newcomers laughing in unison. Compared to later Lego games, Lego Star Wars may appear pretty rudimentary in terms of actual challenges and discoveries, but this was the grandaddy that started them all. (9/10)
Based loosely on the Michael Keaton set of Batman movies, with a pinch of Adam West in there, TT Games came up with an original story to compliment the Batman series. Unique abilities were becoming more of a focus and levels dedicated to the use of vehicles broke up the play, giving more variation. For the first time, you could enter the hub of the Batcave and switch to Arkham Asylum and utilise the villains on offer, opening the scale and depth of the game. Whilst not exactly a giant leap ahead of Lego Star Wars, TT Games showed they were able to adapt to any franchise and bring it to life. (8/10)
Lego Indiana Jones 1 + 2
With Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie on the horizon, it was time to introduce the kids to an 80’s classic. Lego Indy 1 was a set of original stories and Lego Indy 2 was an adaptation based on the movies. However, with this set of Lego games, an imbalance was struck. For those who grew up on Indy movies, the humour of this game didn’t quite replicate the magic of the of the original trilogy. Luckily for Lego, the kids might not be aware of that. Not exactly a terrible game, it’s still worth a play – but the puzzles and gameplay felt like TT Games were going through the motions a little bit with this one and why anyone (other than to make more money) would want to make a game based on the Crystal Skull is beyond me. (6/10)
A desperate last gasp cash in. Guitar Hero and Rockband sales were starting to decline, largely due to a saturated market brought on by the 2 brands. In 2 years alone, there were over 60 different guitar hero/rockband games spread across all formats. Lego’s cutesy interpretation may have been amusing for all of 5 minutes, especially as the amount of songs to choose from were paltry at best. But these rock guitar based games were aimed at two kinds of people, rockers or casual gamers – who enjoyed a good beer and the first opportunity to act silly (although I’m sure I just upset everyone who has spent hours playing in an attempt to get 100% on every song – in which case well done, I salute your dedication). However, Lego Rockband didn’t really fit into this mold and the kids weren’t buying it either. (4/10)
Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 and 5-7
Finally, Lego got themselves back on track and – despite whatever you think about the Harry Potter franchise – TT Games certainly had enough to work with here. Spells, mythical creatures and a host of characters to switch between, all at the disposal of TT Games proverbial magic wand. Puzzles involved making potions to grow bigger or morph into other characters to stealthily sneak by and with the whole of Hogwarts to run around, no child (or pretending adult could resist). TT Games and Warner rediscovered their magic, conjuring up a spellbinding game. (8/10)
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean
I loved the first movie and tolerated the remaining movies’ steady decline into forgettable. So it was going to take some convincing for me to actually enjoy Lego Pirates. But that is what the Lego games do at their best, take a franchise you may think you hate and morph it into something decidedly more lovable. Lego Pirates is the one Lego game that sticks to the main plot almost scene for scene, but what it lacks in mixing up the story it makes up for in puzzles and challenges. TT games were clearly given an opportunity here to capitalise on what they had learned from previous Lego games and the mixing of ingredients associated with Lego Harry Potter were transferred over to Lego Pirates. Jack Sparrow’s compass could lead you to hidden items on the map. The only thing really missing from the game was sea battles – a missed opportunity I would say, but enjoyable all the same. (8/10)
Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars
It appears we’ve come full circle, TT Games revert back to the franchise that started it all – only this time they tap into the history of the animated series. Following the advertures of Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi during the clone war period was fantastic. The story elements, humour and puzzles were superb. The variation of this game was awe inspiring for what is technically classed as a kids game. Planetary wars, especially against friends, were a refreshing touch, as players frantically sped around the battle field building troops and barracks to overcome the opposition.
However, the big downside was how much there was to do to get 100% completion. Collecting everything in this game became a chore as many space and planetary battles had to played at least twice as the opposing faction. All the amount of times you had to switch from the CIS ship to the Republic ship in the main free roam hub area was ridiculous and time consuming, only to later discover that there was another element of the game you hadn’t uncovered. Great game, just too time consuming. (7/10)
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Lego once again returned to a familiar franchise. On this occasion, Lego really went to another level. Voice acting was added for the first time opening a whole new dimension and humour to the Lego series. Batman’s cynicism was hilariously juxtaposed with the upbeat happy-go-lucky attitude of his fellow superheroes Robin, Superman and Green Lantern. Lego Batman 2 also put a bigger emphasis on the characters unique abilities too. Rather than switching to a specific character because the game told you, only that character could be used. Lego Batman made you use Superman’s heat ray or Green Lanterns ring to solve or unlock the puzzles throughout Gotham. To top all this off, TT Games did away with the traditional safe haven and hub area, and allowed players to free roam through Gotham City unlocking all the red/gold bricks scattered about. Lego Batman is easily one of the best Lego games out there. (9/10)
Lego Lord of The Rings
Another amazing franchise typified by another amazing Lego game. Voice overs were taken directly from the movie on this one, along with the amazing soundtrack, which really helped immerse fans of the movie like no other Lego game has before. The fact Lego are able to poke fun at the LOTR without offending hardcore fans always amazes me, but that is what makes these games so endearing. Once again, Lego LOTR is free roam and you can explore all your favourite locations from the movie such as Hobbiton, Minas Tirith and Mount Doom. For the truly dedicated fan you can also discover and unlock characters from the book as well as the movies. (9/10)
Arguably the best in the Lego franchise. A huge city to roam and smash. Play as every amazing superhero known to man including: Spiderman, Ironman, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Wolverine. There is little more any Lego or Superhero fan could hope for. Each character has carefully been animated to emulate the hero they are representing and the necessity to switch character has never been more paramount. Boss battles are better than previous Lego games and the vastness of the city will make Lego-heads roll – Check Out Our Full Review Here. (9/10)
The Future of Lego Games
Far from being done, the guys and gals at TT and Warner Bros. are determined to bring us more fantastic adventures through parodies of the movie franchises we love. The parody of the movie that parodies the movies through Lego (lost yet?), more generally known as The Lego Movie Videogame has just been released to tie in with the theatrical release of the film. More importantly, Lego Hobbit is scheduled for release in April, 2014 and if Lego LOTR was anything to go by, this should be another triumph!