The Lego games aren’t just “Great, for being kids games.” They’re good games. Period.
Developed by Traveller’s Tales and their sister studio, TT Fusion, the Lego franchise has now spanned 3 main console generations and numerous portable machines. In spite of their family focus, the custom graphics engine powering the series has kept up with modern advancements in visuals. It delivers giant open worlds full of characters, realistic materials, real-time physics, and a wide variety of special effects. They’re stealthily some of the best-looking games you can buy. And they all run at rock-solid framerates, and even get good Switch conversions.
The team’s familiarity with their robust engine means they have a prolific pace of output, often driven by the fact that they make licensed content almost exclusively and as such have tight, marketing-driven deadlines.
In a time where Movie Games have all but died…the Lego games hold it down.
If you play 2014’s The Lego Movie Videogame, it’s easy to see why. The game, like all the other Lego titles, masterfully blends together simple action combat, platforming, puzzle solving, collection, and exploration into a fun mash-up that’s strangely captivating.
Not content to just follow the plot of the movie, the game combines several real scenes from the film with an expanded story line and new voice acting, creating its own expanded version of the same tale and giving life to characters that only show up in the movie for a few seconds as one-off gags.
Every environment from the film is spun out into its own mini open world hub, complete with side missions to do alongside the main story.
Warner Brothers owns Traveller’s Tales, and that partnership means they often have full access to the raw assets of the movies they’re adapting. And their frequent team-ups with Disney have also produced excellent results.
The Lego games stand toe-to-toe with other movie game greats like Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and…Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.
They’re the sort of thing I always wanted movie games to be, and in an era where the licensed tie-in has either been relegated to super low budget development or mobile phones, I’m really happy they still exist.
I picked The Lego Movie to highlight as my example from the franchise because I think it’s a fantastic film and that the game adaptation only expanded on its fun, but if there’s another franchise you prefer you could slot that in here instead.
I didn’t like The Lego Movie 2 nearly as much as the first movie, but I’m hopeful that the game coming out next week will work its magic and help ease my frustrations.
The only downer to this franchise is that, thanks to the arcane nature of the licensing deal for The Lord of the Rings, the two Lego games set in Tolkein’s world were recently deleted from existence. A shame, as they remain the only way to explore a fully realized open world Middle-Earth.
The Essential Games used to be a weekly series and some day it might be again. You can read my other entries right here.