Whenever I review LEGO video games, it seems to raise more than a few eyebrows. When I give them a high score, it boggles even more minds, if that’s possible. Is this a kid writing? No? Does she KNOW what a good game is? No, wait, wait, wait, this has to be a joke, right? I’ve gotten them all, even those with more f-bombs than a Jason Mewes speech. I don’t care. I continue to buy them, and I’ll keep writing about them as long as I enjoy them. Some say it’s my guilty pleasure, but there’s nothing guilty about it. I unabashedly love these games and I’ll proudly boast that to anyone willing (or even unwilling) to listen.
I haven’t played a single LEGO video game that did not make me laugh out loud. And yes, this includes the numerous LEGO games that did not have actual dialogue. Before the minifigs spoke, they told the story they were parodying like they were in a Charlie Chaplin movie–lots of miming, hand gestures, drawings, and a call on the player to know a little bit about the subject matter before diving in. In fact, this is where the games draw upon all of their jokes, from the parodying subject and even other tidbits from geek culture. Sometimes it’s an obvious joke, like Spider-Man in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes saying that he’s busy with angst and has to explain to his girlfriend again why he’s always leaving her in coffee shops. When there’s not spoken dialogue, you get little clever treats like the one below–LEGO Indy trying to give Belloq C3PO’s head instead of the golden Chachapoyan Fertility Idol.
Sometimes the jokes sprout from the actual gameplay. Mr. Fantastic will transform into a teapot in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Also in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Agent Coulson will stand at the ready until you move him. The first time he fires his weapon, he says, “So that’s what it does.” In LEGO The Lord of the Rings, some puzzles require Aragorn to toss Gimli (remember how no one tosses a dwarf?). One of the collectibles in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is to find all of the Stan Lees in peril, and yes, they are voiced by Stan the Man himself!
Even though LEGO City Undercover was not based off of an existing franchise, the writing and the gameplay were just as clever as the other games. My husband even got as big of a kick out of the Shawshank Redemption parody as I did.
Unless you’re playing the handheld bastardizations (i.e. LEGO Movie Videogame and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes), the LEGO characters can’t die in these games. They just fall apart, lose a bunch of studs, and respawn close to where they met Jesus. Many scoff that this removes all challenge from the game, and I get that, but at the same time, there’s something nice about not stressing about death.
The LEGO games are all about having fun in the LEGO world, not remembering where that random sniper lurks or learning what tricks it takes to defeat this particular boss. There’s no real rush, you can explore to your heart’s content, and you’ll never get stuck in a level (unless there’s a glitch; Traveller’s Tales is notorious for glitchiness in the LEGO games).
This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy those aspects in typical “adult” games; I really do, I promise. Sometimes it’s just nice to take a break from worrying about getting killed by a enemy or how many potions I have in stock and delve into complete silliness.
There’s Some Challenge if You Want it.
It’s super, super easy to blow through the story portion of any LEGO game with little to no difficulty. The challenge comes in being a completionist, which oh yes I am for LEGO games. To snag that 100% completion, you must find all 400+ collectibles hidden in the story levels and the often-ginormous hub worlds. These include gold bricks, red bricks, minikits, every available character, and a random collectible (in the LEGO Movie Videogame, it was pants; in LEGO Harry Potter, it was students in peril).
This is where I spend most of my time, because by golly all 450 of those gold bricks will be mine, dammit! I’m not really a completionist in any other games, so I can’t explain my fervor with the LEGO games. For whatever reason, I don’t find hunting down all of these collectibles to be as frustrating of a beat-down as in an RPG.
Playing super cereal games such as Spec Ops: The Line or and of the Tales of games have their time and place and I’ll always love them. But sometimes I don’t want something that tugs at my tear ducts or forces me to rethink everything I once thought was real. The LEGO games remind me how much fun games can be when you sit back and laugh at all of it, especially book and movie franchises I hold dear to my heart. It’s not the gameplay that makes these games, the stories, or the characters; it’s the layers upon layers of clever, clever humor. That is why this grown ass adult still joyously plays LEGO video games.