Lego, famous for its building bricks decided to expand their franchise into multiple lucrative industries. Video games were one of those industries, from Lego Racers to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. What has changed?
Lego Racers, developed in 1999, was a racing game with combat mechanics. The first game in the series, second only to Lego Island. The story focused around your characters rise to become the world champion racer. Objects included a grappling hoot and speed boosts that helped you along your way to victory. Of course, Lego stuck to their roots with the car builder functionality. A brilliant game all round.
They later moved into movie franchise inspiration. Lego Star Wars had you take on the role of memorable characters such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. After fighting through the levels within the story mode. Free-play, when unlocked that allowed you to find all the collectables within the game, mini kits and red bricks that allowed you to build models and buy cheats which improved aspects such as a higher sum of studs and invincibility.
Lego Star Wars featured Mos Eisley Cantina as the level hub, which created extended periods of beating up the characters walking around. The level design was linear, except for bonus area only accessible by certain characters. The combat is basic with punching being the main combat mechanic within the game. Watching the characters break into their Lego parts is satisfying no matter how many times it’s watched.
Games carried on with this formula for a while with a second Star Wars game as well as Batman and Indiana Jones joining the mix. Character design stayed like the backlog (with different skins related to the franchise).
Rock Band featured the Lego franchise in 2009. The decision reinforces the following that Lego had created in the decade since they entered the video games industry. The songs included focused more on younger gamers. The game matched the quality of the more Rock Band games, if you could deal with the chart music that it focused against.
Lord of The Rings
Lego Lord of The Rings highlighted a change in game design. RPG mechanics feature within the level hub. The game allowed players to traverse Middle Earth at their leisure. Collecting new mithril bricks to create items that could be used by all characters such as shovels and water buckets. Coop play also allows for players to spit away from each other, a mechanic introduced with Lego Indiana Jones 2. The mechanic has a problem where the split changes direction based on where the two characters are, which can get annoying, it beats the tethering however which creates far too many arguments.
Greater character interaction has increased. A larger pool of essential characters meant that the games were becoming more complicated and interactive. Whether this is a positive for introducing children into video games is unknown, but it certainly makes the games more enjoyable to older players helping them along the way. Playing in coop is much more enjoyable as you can pull away from the other player rather than waiting on them for you to catch up. This could have got annoying with inexperienced players.
Lego Lord of The Rings [Credit: cultofmac.com]
The newest game to date is Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the newest release. Characters now talk! Introduced with Lego Batman 2, the characters now have ‘terrible’ voice actors instead of the usual humming. It’s a shame because part of the comedy was trying to work out what they were saying. It shows how popular Star Wars is with the amount of games that are releasing based on the amount of games that Lego have dedicated to it.
The graphics have vastly improved since the series began. The lighting effects have made the game look much more impressive. The stud design makes them look more 3D than previous games, the effect isn’t to taste, but the old design would have looked horrible if implemented. Star Wars is now exhausted. Star Wars now seems like an exhausted setting, although it makes sense from a business perspective, Lego should move on from reproducing the franchise.
Games are still being developed in 2017. They have changed a lot since their first few releases. They have made the franchise into something amazing. The ability to have fun way after the age suggestion keeps on growing. It is a brilliant franchise for beginner gamers to grasp using a controller due to the simple controls and the easy difficulty. There are no real penalties to dying, other than the loss of studs that’s easily recovered through the drop (after death) and world destruction. The games don’t force you to return to a checkpoint upon death either.
The franchise is open to adapting to popular media. Some intriguing decisions have been made. The push for higher quality graphics and game design has pushed away some features that made the old games great. Progression is always a positive, though sometimes decisions can be unavoidable to keep up expectations. Lego games aren’t going away anytime soon.