Tag Archives: LEGO Products

LEGO Star Wars – The Force Awakens Sounds Pretty Cool

Okay, the trailer for LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens has me a bit excited.  I have gotten a bit jaded on the whole Traveller’s Tales LEGO games in the last couple of years.  While they add in new mechanics with each generation, the new stuff hasn’t always sat well with me while the old stuff hasn’t changed much.  But then I watched this.

That was pretty cool, very much in the sort of humor that Traveller’s Tales like to inject into their games.

And the whole thing got a bit better when I noticed at the end of the video, the supported platforms include the PlayStation 3.

Look at all the platforms on which it will be released...

Look at all the platforms on which it will be released…

That is pretty much the only platform I have that could run the game, since their LEGO games are really unsatisfying for me on the PC.  I suppose I could get it on the 3DS.  That probably wouldn’t be so bad.  But it likely wouldn’t be as satisfying as having it on our TV.

And, finally, there was this bit of news that the game would bridge some of the gaps between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

That is not as crazy as it might sound.  Playing the original LEGO Star Wars games was not only fun, but it was a really good way to bone up on locations, characters, and events.  Playing through the now incorrectly named LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga was almost like taking an undergraduate course in Star Wars.

Anyway, it is coming our way on June 28th.  We might have to get this at our house.

Quote of the Day – Your Name May Not Be a Name

Your user name may not be discriminating, unethical or otherwise offensive and may not contain a name.

-LEGO, on changes to their terms of service.

The fine people at The Lego Group dropped me a line to remind me that they have changed their terms of services.

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They were concerned apparently because I had not yet read and accepted them.  Literal truth.

You are receiving this email because we have changed our user terms for your LEGO ID and we can see that you haven’t read and accepted them yet.

I haven’t read or accepted them because I haven’t logged on to anything LEGO or LEGO related in a while.  My daughter is now a teenager and far more interested in makeup, clothes, and what her friends are posting on Instagram than getting plastic blocks and building things.  She does occasionally get wistful when she  sees the LEGO minifigures… she keeps the golden C3P-0 on her desk… but not enough to actually dust them off and do something with them.  I should go do another minifigure roundup this year and drag her along.

Anyway, The Lego Group was kind enough to append a short list of the items that they felt were the most important of the changes to the terms.  Number one on the list is quoted at the top of this post, and it makes my head hurt.

I get “discriminating,” though through the quirkiness of the English language and custom, we tend to use that word to indicate a positive.  If you have “discriminating taste” it is a good thing, right?  So I might have phrased that differently… maybe “promotes discrimination” since “discrimination” is the usage that is always negative… but I get what they were shooting for.  Marketing and legal probably spent hours on that word alone.

I can also see “unethical.”  If you pick a user name that makes you look like an employee of The Lego Group, that would be well on the way towards “unethical,” though I still think you have to try and use it to misrepresent yourself intentionally before we get fully in the zone.  Whatever, I get it.

“Offensive” is a minefield in this day and age.  I dare anybody to come up with a workable definition of what “offensive” means in a world where people are offended that somebody has the last name “Lynch.”  But they have to cover themselves, and now they can site this statement if somebody complains about.  Yet again, I get it.

But then we get to the last phrase in that sentence (which should be separated with an Oxford comma dammit) and I start to think that they are trolling me.  My user name, the name with which I identify myself on the LEGO site, must not contain a NAME?

I might understand “must not contain your real name” or “must not include your surname” as stipulations, but they appear to be literally saying, “Your name… it may not be a name.”  That quote at the top, it is directly from the section of the terms to which the user is specifically required to agree.

If I go with all numbers, will that still be a name?  It all seems pretty silly to me.

Vader’s Not So Silent Night

From the LEGO people.

I like the snatches of lyrics from the rebel carol.

LEGO has a Santa Yoda page up this year that includes two more videos and a contest where people can submit their own.

And they are also pushing a LEGO Star Wars film, The Padawan Menace, which Vader appears to be trying to watch in the video above.  The movie is 22 minutes long, which seems a bit brief for a full price Blu-ray release.  But what do I know.

LEGO Batman Arrives

Santa kindly brought me a copy of LEGO Batman for the Wii at Christmas, thus helping cement the LEGO theme we had going in December.  I think we still have at least one unopened kit at this point.

Back in September, I was going on about my seeming lack of enthusiasm for the game.  I could not bring myself to run out and get it on day one, at least not at the list price of $50.

But now it is here and it seems that the rest of my predictions about the game rang pretty much true.

The game is a lot of fun.  It is at least as much fun as the previous LEGO titles from Traveller’s Tales.

It feels like the game has more content than LEGO Indiana Jones did, though it still falls short off all but the first LEGO Star Wars title, and that was before Travelers Tales discovered the secret sauce that makes their LEGO franchise so addictive.

As I guessed, you take on the role of Batman and Robin and run off to fight the super villains that plague Gotham City who are lead, in three separate acts, by The Riddler, The Penguin, and The Joker.  Once you have defeated the final scene in a given act, you can then go back and play from the point of view of the other side, taking on the super villain role yourself.

Being a LEGO title, you spend a lot of time breaking things, blowing things up, and collecting the little studs that are the unlock currency in the game.

The first two characters we bought were Batgirl, which my daughter wanted to play and whom can take over all of the Batman roles, and Nightwing, an alternative Robin who has a better outfit, some hair mousse, and a pair of batons with which to fight.

All in all, a solid game.

The fact that it was not based on story lines I knew well (like Star Wars and Indiana Jones) turned out to be less of a problem than I had anticipated.  But then, what is there to understand when it comes to Batman?  Bad guys get out of hand, Batman, foils their plans, beats them about the head and shoulders, and hands them over to the authorities.

The main drawback is that the game does not really bring anything new to Traveler’s Tales LEGO oeuvre.

Sure, there are neat little things, Batman and Robin both have suits that do special things and there is the who boomerang/batarang thing, but those don’t really change the feel of the game.

And so, in something of a exaggerated reflection of my own views on the game, I practically have to drag my daughter kicking and screaming to get her to play LEGO Batman with me.  She asks if we can play something else, please!  She can even get a bit sulky, sitting there holding the controller while the game starts up.

And then we actually start playing the game and she doesn’t want to stop.

Because it really is a fun game.

But, as things go in the MMO world, it is difficult to judge the game on its own merits, in a vacuum.  LEGO Batman has to live in the shadow of what went before.

We Got Jabba!

At our house, the Christmas tradition includes the aspect that Santa does not wrap presents, but simply leaves them in the stockings or under the tree. (Less work and no gift tags subject to handwriting analysis. A co-worker was busted by his daughter when she pointed out that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all shared the same handwriting style as her mother.)

So Christmas morning our daughter went out to see what Santa had left, then came running back to our bedroom shouting, “WE GOT JABBA!!!

Yes, under the tree, there was the LEGO set 6210, Jabba’s Sail Barge, for which my daughter had been asking for some time.

My wife noted that she said “We” got Jabba, an indication that she knew I wanted the set as much as our daughter did.

Christmas Day involved a lot of driving, so we did not have time to put the set together until the day after Christmas.

As far as LEGO Star Wars sets go, the sail barge is pretty good. I tend to judge sets based on what else I can make with the pieces, and this set score high in that regard. But it also makes for a pretty solid play set and it looks really good.

Plus, it came with minifigures of Jabba the Hutt, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Lando, Princess Leia (in chain bikini), Boba Fett, a Gamorrean Guard, and R2-D2 with attached serving tray.

So we set all the pieces out on a big table, assembled the minifigures so my daughter would have something to occupy herself with, and then the construction started. The minifigures are what our daughter really likes.

LEGO kits have three type of instructions:

  1. Ones that show you the pieces used with each step
  2. Ones that show you the pieces used and where they go with each step
  3. Ones that show you a picture and makes you guess what changed from the last one

The sail barge kit falls into the third category, but the building phase did not take as long as I thought it would, and I made mercifully few “mirror image” mistakes.

So here is Jabba’s sail barge, with a happy five year old looming above.

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The sides of the barge fold down and, surprisingly, hold together quite well.

The set also includes the skiff. We threw our own Chewbacca into the mix for play time.

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This is the whole set. You can see our golden C-3PO in the mix as well.

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The barge with the sides folded up and Leia peering out.

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And, finally, Boba Fett getting chomped in the sarlacc pit.

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So we have had lots of LEGO action here over the holiday break!

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

I mentioned at the end of review of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, I had already picked up a copy of The Complete Saga on release day. 

In fact, the looming release of The Complete Saga was what motivated me to finally write up that review.

But now the Complete Saga is here.

Saturday morning this past weekend started as many Saturday mornings have over the last few months.  My daughter woke up first, then headed on into our room to wake me up. 

If only we had this problem on school days.

I got up without too much protest about the time.

I got in my sweats, went into my office and picked up the new game off of the top shelf of my book case (hiding things from people who are only four feet tall can be easy) then headed out to the family room.

My daughter was already reeling out the GameCube controllers, ready to play.

I told her that we would not be using those controllers today.

Her face began to adopt that pleading pose, thinking that I was going to propose playing Mario Kart Double Dash or Marble Mania (which I really like), games that only I seem to enjoy these days.

But before she could work her way into full whine mode (how do you make that stop?) I pulled the LEGO Star Wars: Complete Saga case out from behind my back and showed it to her.

She is only in kindergarten, so reading is still work for her, but she did not need to read much on that case to know that the new LEGO Star Wars game, the one I mentioned a month or so back, the game she has been asking me about ever since (Daaaaad, we need Jar-Jar’s super jumping ability in this level! When is the new game coming out?) was here and ready to play.

I unplugged the GameCube controllers, set them aside, and got out the Wii remotes and nunchuk controllers.

Then my daughter and I spent a good nine hours over the weekend playing the game, hitting the 10% mark for content, which gives me some basis on which to make a first pass review.

The Cool

It is LEGO Star Wars.  It is cool by default.

Having all of the levels and all of the characters to unlock is great.  You can have characters that you have unlocked in any of the episodes when you choose free play.  You can also use parts from any of those unlocked characters to make your custom LEGO character.

Plus they have added new characters to the playable/unlockable list.  My daughter was flying around as Watto pretty soon after we started.

All of the great co-op game play action is in the game, but improved.

To borrow a phrase from Darren at The Common Sense Gamer, “They took out the suck.”

This particularly applies to episodes I, II, and III.  There were levels in that set which were extremely frustrating to play, and more so when trying to play co-op with a five year old.

I mentioned the pod race level previously.  It was a huge pain in the original LEGO Star Wars.  You had to race through three laps (just like the movie) with each lap divided into timed segments.  You could only advance to the next timed segment after completing the previous.  The first segment was hard enough that I had to have my daughter drop out and solo it.  I made it after four tries.

And then each segment after that gets harder.

But they fixed that.  They did away with the segments.  It is just one three lap race now, and all you have to do is catch, pass, and stay in front of Sebulba.  And if you don’t make it, you just have to re-run the last lap, not the whole race.

This time I only had to run the last lap four times before I won, though I did have my daughter drop out after the second run.  She was fine with that.

And then there was the Battle over Coruscant, the level that made me send the original LEGO Star Wars back to GameFly.  As frustrating as the podrace, but much more difficult.  I never made it through the level.

With the updates in The Complete Saga however, my daughter and I made it through the level with only a couple of setbacks.  We got to see a lot of content that was previously unavailable to us, including the fights with Count Dooku and General Grievous.  

And finally there is Indiana Jones.  As a promo for the upcoming LEGO Indiana Jones game, one of the characters you can unlock in The Complete Saga is Indiana Jones himself.  He is cool with his trademark fedora, whip, and .45 revolver.  The in-game sound effect for that .45 is straight from the bar scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  It is a great sound, a deep, throaty, concussive report. Too bad it sounds like no .45 I’ve ever head fired, and I have heard a fair sampling at the range.  But that is Hollywood!

The Middling

I was a bit worried that I might have to get up off the Love Sac and get an early morning workout with the coming of LEGO Star Wars to the Wii.  But that was not the case.  While you can swing a lightsaber by waving the Wii remote, you can do the same thing with the B (trigger) button.  And since all the lightsaber strokes are scripted already, that is fine.  You cannot do anything special swinging the remote around that you couldn’t do just clicking the B button.

Which is, of course, going to be a disappointment to some who were looking for some real lightsaber action.  The game makes very limited use of the special control abilities of the Wii remote.  Instead, the Wii remote and nunchuck just take the place of the standard game pad.

The problem is, the GameCube game pad is much better for that sort of thing.  It is well designed and comfortable in both my hands and my daughter’s.  I have not checked the manual yet, but I do not think I can go back to the GameCube controllers, or even to the Wii Classic controllers for this game.

So, while I can comfortably lounge while playing the game, the controller configuration straddles the divide between Wii remote and game pad, which is dissatisfying for anybody who favors one or the other.

They also added on a two-player game section.  In that you can compete against the other player in several activities, including killing NPCs, collecting studs, or killing each other.  While a it was a nice idea to include some competitive play in the game, it really is not that good.

While the shooting each other game is simple enough, it is very heavily influenced by the character you choose to play.

Hunting NPCs is a bit more painful, and the match inevitably ends up going to the person who runs further ahead, thus getting to any new NPC spawns first.

And the stud collecting… that is just dreadful.  We chose the “collect 100,000” studs game.  Only it was five rounds, so it is really 500,000 studs.  So you go in and blow stuff up to scoop up all the studs that drop.  But then NPCs show up, shooting at you.  If you die, you lose a big chunk of your total.  this wouldn’t be so bad, but the NPCs come on in a constant stream, so you end up spending most of your time fighting them.  Plus you opponent can also shoot and kill you with the same stud loss result.

After a long time playing this with my daughter, during which neither of us hit the first 100,000 marker, I changed tactics and just covered her while she collected studs, just to end the game.

And this is compounded by a problem that exists in the co-op game, which is that you cannot go in two different directions.  And for a competitive game like this, you want to be able to go a different way that the other person.  So in trying to go different ways, we managed to play tug of war and get each other stuck in dead ends.

Since this was some “extra” content in a co-op game, I am willing to give it a pass, but I could not recommend it.

The Questionable

Then there are the things that bother me. 

For example, somebody decided to turn up the shine setting to 11.

Everybody and everything in the game is much shinier than the previous versions.  It really bothers me.  I want somebody to run out and powder Chewbacca’s shiny face.  The glare off of RD-D2 is blinding.  And some things have so much shine, they get a glazed donut texture to them, like somebody did “wax on” but forgot to “wax off.”  (Heh, he said “Wax off!”)

They also made C-3P0 rather more gold in color than before.  A bit too much of the orange, if you ask me.

But these are matters of taste.  The big thing is that in some busy scenes, places where you’re blowing things up while NPCs are running around and firing, the graphics performance grinds quite a bit.  Objects get jumpy and the quality of what is displayed degrades quite noticeably.

I do not understand why this should be the case.  The graphics (minus the shine factor) are the same as the GameCube version, which ran as smooth as silk on the Wii.  Somebody screwed up.

The Verdict

While it has its faults, LEGO Star Wars – The Complete Saga is a clear winner at our house.  The smoothing out of the annoyingly difficult parts from the first installment, along with the continues great co-op game play, means that my daughter will continue ignoring the idea of “Sleep-in Saturday” for some time to come.

So no extra rest for me, but a dad’s got to do what a dad’s got to do.

LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

It is 6:45am on a Saturday morning.  Someone is lightly shaking me, causing me to wake up.

“Daddy, c’mon.  Lego Star Wars.”

There is that voice again.

I roll onto my back and mumble something about “sleep-in Saturday” and going back to bed.

“I can’t sleep any more.  C’mon!”

She shakes me a bit more.

I hear my wife say sleepily, “C’mon daddy.”  I can hear the grin on her face.  She has some more sleep time coming.

Not me.

I expect this sort of thing on Christmas morning, but it is September.

There is a new ruler in the kingdom that is our Wii.  Mario Kart Double Dash lasted all of two weeks, and then we found something new.

A couple weeks before the early morning Saturday scene, we were out at Fry’s.  I was looking for cable extenders for the GameCube controllers I bought for our Wii in order to play GameCube games.  The six foot cables that come with the controllers were too short.  We found those at Fry’s, digging through some of the GameCube accessories that had been pushed to the end of one aisle in the sprawling Brokaw Road store.  We started at the Arques store, but their GameCube section had disappeared completely, so we had to move on to the next best location.

I found the cable extenders.  I also picked up a GameCube memory card so we could save GameCube game histories. 

I also spotted a copy of LEGO Star Wars II

I showed it to my daughter, who was quite enthusiastic.  It had been marked down, so I was happy enough to throw it in the basket.

My daughter is already a Star Wars fan.  At age 5 she has seen all the movies, can tell you what characters appear in which, and, as I have posted here before, enjoys playing with Star Wars LEGOs. (Though it is really the mini figures she enjoys the most, like our golden C-3P0.)

Little did I know that I had created a monster.

The combination of LEGO, Star Wars, and a video game proved to have a lot of appeal for my daughter.

And so the scene above… me being awoken early on Saturday morning to play LEGO Star Wars has been repeated for quite a few weeks in a row.

Fortunately, for sleepy dad at 7am, using a GameCube controller is pretty low impact.

I roll the big Love Sac (we have the Super Sac, which pretty much fits us all) in front of the television, grab the controllers, jump in an get comfy with my daughter for a couple hours of LEGO Star Wars.

But enough of the indulgent father routine.  The game is freakin’ awesome.

I may not enjoy it quite as much as my daughter, or be quite as eager to get up early on the weekend to play it, but I have a great time when we play.

So aside from the fact that it is LEGO and Star Wars and a video game all wrapped up into one package, what does this game have going for it?

Well, it is a very fun and somewhat silly look at the original Star Wars trilogy.  You get to play through all of the major parts of the movies.

Second, the game play is pretty reasonable.  I found the speeder bike section a bit trying, but for the most part, the game is very accessible.  We blew through all 18 basic levels (six per episode) in about two weeks of not very intensive play.  We generally reserve the Wii for Wii-kends (ha ha), though we did go through a level a night for a few weeknights.  And, in the end, it wasn’t too tough to figure out.  I only got stuck twice and had to go to the web for answers. (I used this site for basic level walk-through, and this site for a more of the advanced questions.)

Third, it is extremely replayable.  Once we got through the story, we started on the “Free Play” aspects of the game, where you go back through the levels to pick up special pieces, unlock new characters and special abilities, find secret or locked locations, and run some of the special missions that only become available after you have completed the basic game.

The game even tells you how much of the content you have completed.  We currently stand at 56%.  Our big bonus for last weekend was earning enough of the in-game cash to unlock one of the three ghost characters.  (We took Anakin, but still have Yoda and Obi-wan to go.)

So we have been playing this game, and not much else on the Wii, for some time now.

We took a diversion into the original LEGO Star Wars for a weekend, but the game play was a lot more annoying.  We did not get too far into it.  I especially found the pod race level very aggravating.  I had to have my daughter drop out of the game so I could finish it by myself.

That’s no fun.

But they appear to have learned a lot from the first one when they made the second.

And I gather that they probably learned some from the second.  At least I hope they did.

Because, do you know what came out yesterday?  What I had to buy at Fry’s while I was there grabbing Ratatouille on DVD?

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga!

All six movies combined into a single game.

New Characters! New Levels!

And it is for the Wii!  Swing that lightsaber!

I predict more early Saturday mornings.  Only now I am in danger of having to move around because of the Wii’s controller.

(And if they get it right, they have pretty much sold me a copy of the upcoming LEGO Indiana Jones game as well.)