|Oh wow! It’s Harrison Ford! Oh wait. No. It’s just a Lego guy. Had me going there for a second.|
I played Lego Star Wars a couple of years ago, and found it to be a very stereotypical casual game: Easy to learn. Charming. Playable in little ten to fifteen minute bursts. Mildly humorous. Fun.
The thrust of a Lego game is to take a movie series and transport it into the Lego reality of plastic bits and bright colors. There’s no dialog. The characters all emote with gestures, facial expressions, and very simple grunts. “Uh-oh!” is the closest thing you’ll hear to English. The movie will be broken up into a few distinct chapters. You’ll watch a little cutscene to set the stage for a chapter, and then the game turns you loose in a series of rooms where you bash up the bad guys until they shatter into plastic nobs. Usually you have two characters in your party, and you will need to occasionally shift between the two in order to solve some mild puzzles. There are a bunch of secret parts to find, which you can use to build secret objects that unlock various rewards. That’s pretty much it.
The formula doesn’t work quite as well with Indy as it did with Star Wars. (Spaceships are easier to envision with plastic bricks than jungles or Cairo.) The levels here are longer. Each chapter is about twenty to forty minutes long, and you can’t save. You also can’t die or fail, so you don’t have to worry about getting sent back to the beginning of the chapter. If you fall, you just pop back to life again. But I often found myself thinking I’d had enough Lego fun about ten minutes before I reached the end of the chapter, but was obliged to keep going to get to the next save. The game is a bit like cotton candy. It’s fluffy and fun, but I can only take so much of it at one time.
|You thought he was getting out his whip, but no! He accidentally pulled out a BANANA instead. It’s funny because you weren’t expecting it! Or maybe you were! Either way, you can’t skip it! Wheee!|
But in the end, it’s pretty much the same formula and the same fun. I’m afraid there are no Deep Truths about game design to reveal here. Nothing offensively bad to get worked up about. No revelations about what makes gaming great. It’s a very formulaic series, and this isn’t the best example of the formula. If you’ve never tried the whole Lego thing before but want some amusing low-key fun, start with Lego Star Wars. (I suggest the game based on the prequel trilogy, as it lets you smash up little plastic Jar-Jar with your lightsaber as many times as you like.)
A Lack of Vision and Leadership
People fault EA for being greedy, but their real sin is just how terrible they are at it.
A programming project where I set out to make a Minecraft-style world so I can experiment with Octree data.
C++ is a wonderful language for making horrible code.
The Opportunity Crunch
No, brutal, soul-sucking, marriage-destroying crunch mode in game development isn't a privilege or an opportunity. It's idiocy.
The Terrible New Thing
Fidget spinners are ruining education! We need to... oh, never mind the fad is over. This is not the first time we've had a dumb moral panic.