Say what you will about the debate on whether we focus too much on materialism at Christmas, but one thing you can’t deny is that it is now a fundamental part of the holiday. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience; Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the family gathering around for a round of board games, or without the run-up of desperately shopping around for the best presents for your loved ones so you can see the look on their faces on Christmas day. Especially for children; opening presents getting to play with all the latest toys and games is a highlight. It’s very difficult to recapture that pure, innocent joy of play on Christmas day you experience as a kid. But, there is one notable series of videogames that do just that; the Lego games. Growing up, I spent many a Christmas afternoon, having an amazing time playing Lego Harry Potter, Lego Batman and other Lego games with my younger brother.
It was only in 2005 that Traveller’s Tales released the original Lego Star Wars: The Videogame, and yet in the past decade the series has become one of gaming’s most popular with nearly 20 games, tens of millions of sales and the use of hugely popular licensed properties ranging from Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones, to The Lord of The Rings and Marvel Superheroes. The fact that the series is still going strong with the recent Lego Jurassic World dominating sales charts this year, is truly a testament to how beloved these games are.
The success of the series is even more impressive when it is considered that the actual gameplay of the Lego games is nothing to write home about. I love playing them because of how simple and mindless they are but at the same time, they’re really simple and mindless. These are games you play when you don’t want to think and just want to have fun collecting stuff or smashing stuff up. You tend to be doing exactly the same thing in every single Lego game; running through stages embodying various characters from the specific franchise the game is based on, destroying items, solving puzzle and collecting Lego studs as you go. You don’t play these games for the gameplay or even just because you really love Lego. In fact Lego games rely wholeheartedly on the popularity of other things; for example, people play Lego Indiana Jones because they love Indiana Jones, not because they love the Lego games.
These are games you play when you don’t want to think and just want to have fun collecting stuff or smashing stuff up.
Despite the fact that the games don’t necessarily transcend their franchises, they certainly do a fantastic job of embracing their source material. Just as an example, in Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes, you have the opportunity to play as all the main DC comics’ characters such as The Flash, Superman, and Wonder Woman as well as a massive recreation of Gotham City to explore, but there is also an incredible attention to detail that is at the heart of the experience. During one cut scene for instance; the reporter, Vicki Vale talks about the mayor’s plan to seal off a section of Gotham City to house the supervillains of the Batman mythos. This of course being a clear nod to all fans of the Arkham games, in jovially mocking the in-game events of the then recently released Batman Arkham City. And that’s just one example, the Lego games are packed to the brim full of references, lore and of course the classic Lego slapstick style antics which give the games their signature style of humour. Ultimately, it’s not the actual games that are fun, but instead a total and unwavering commitment to detail that make the Lego game such a joy to play.
Since the gameplay mechanics of the Lego games are unlikely to change anytime soon, the only real topic there is to speculate about with regards to future Lego games is; which franchises will Travelers Tales return to and which franchises will be lego-fied next. With the recent release of Lego Dimensions, a game which has encompassed a plethora of pop culture icons ranging from Doctor Who to Portal, certainly there is always the possibility that there will simply be more expansion packs added to that game in order to improve its longevity. However, with the upcoming release of Lego Marvel’s Avengers in early 2016, it is more than likely that we will see some standalone Lego titles in the coming years.
Just to rattle off a few ideas, I would love to see games based off franchises such as James Bond, Pixar, Ghostbusters and maybe even a standalone Doctor Who game. But as far as the games that I actually think will release relatively soon, there are only a few that spring to mind. The very nature of the Lego games means that they tend to be released when the franchise that is being represented at its most popular, or at least its most relevant. Lego Pirates of The Caribbean: The Videogame launched around the time of the release of the fourth film in the franchise for instance. So, what with the cinematic battle between Marvel and DC just about to really heat up with a Justice League movie coming in 2017, it would be amazing to have a Lego Marvel vs DC game. Certainly being able to pit Captain America and Superman against Batman and Iron Man would be a dream come true for some comic fans. In addition, I feel that with the ever increasing hype surrounding the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, now is a better time than ever for the Lego series to return to the franchise that started it all. I would be legitimately surprised if we don’t see a new Lego game focused on the events of the upcoming trilogy of Star Wars films in the next few years.
All that being said, Traveller’s Tales, may well surprise us yet. I don’t think anyone was expecting Lego Dimensions before it was announced earlier this year, so we really could get anything with the next few Lego games. Ultimately though, the series will continue to be held as one of gaming’s most reliable and consistent.