Here’s a joke: what do you get when you mix the most famous toy brand on earth with some of the most famous movies of all time? Traveler’s Tales Lego Games! …well, it’s not really a joke as much as it is a fact, but still, it’s hard to imagine that such a collision of worlds as the Lego games ever happened. Over the past decade and a half, TT Games has done a fantastic job of bringing some of the most recognizable movie brands to a new, kid-friendly format. Lego video games have almost become a brand in and of themselves, despite being a melting pot of many other brands mixed together. Let’s face it: You either love these games, or you have a younger relative who does. Or both!
Whether you have a soft spot for digital Legos or not, there are a few of us here at Culture of Gaming who do. So that’s why we wanted to bring to you our personal ranking of the top 5 Lego games ever made! Keep in mind, this is a culmination of our personal opinions, not some ten-commandments Lego brick that you should govern your opinion of these games by. If you disagree, let us know, but do it respectfully!
We’ll shut up now – here is Culture of Gaming’s top five Lego games of all time!
5: Lego Indiana Jones
Ethan Braun – Of all the licensed Lego games, Indiana Jones might just be the closest to its source material – but at the same time, it strays away from the story just enough to incorporate some light-hearted humor. This game came out in 2007 – before Traveler’s Tales had the extensive budget to hire voice actors – so they had to convey all the comedy they could through clever slap-stick gags and Lego facial reactions. When Indy pulls a C3PO head out of his backpack and his captor mocks him by walking in circles like a robot, it’s funny! When terrorist kidnappers run Marion around the city in a basket, it’s funny! This game is filled with little gags and comedic touches like this that Lego games would go on to be most known for. And all without voice acting!
But narrative and comedy wasn’t Indy’s only accomplishment – it has some of the most interesting and brain-scratching puzzles that Traveler’s Tales has ever designed. You constantly are figuring out how to utilize your character’s traits and abilities to manipulate the environmental puzzles around you, especially if you go back through each level and choose free play. With dozens of characters to choose from, you must search every nook and cranny and think of which ability you’ll need for a particular situation, whether it be Indy’s whip, Marion’s high jump, or Short Round’s tiny body. Arguably, the game only gets better when you are determined to 100% complete it– you’ll find all sorts of puzzles and Star Wars-related Easter Eggs you wouldn’t have taken a second glance at before, like the cantina from A New Hope and the ice cave Luke hangs upside down in from The Empire Strikes Back.
Lego Indiana Jones is a fantastic follow-up to the unprecedented success of Lego Star Wars, and it’s still one of TT Games’ bests.
4: Lego City Undercover
Ethan Braun – So, imagine if GTA V was family-friendly – that’s Lego City Undercover. You play as Chase Mccain, an undercover cop whose sole mission is to explore the streets of Lego City and feign as a criminal to subdue the underworld overlord Rex Fury. Similar to Lego Batman 2’s Arkham City, Lego City is a highly detailed world to explore, split up with a scattershot of linear puzzles and levels. There are secrets and hidden areas to find everywhere, from bustling downtown areas to the rural outskirts. Not to mention, the clever level and puzzle design of this game are some of the best in TT Games history – there are tons of neat tricks you can use to solve your way through levels, from the footprint tracker to the x-ray scanner.
City Undercover is somewhat of a stand-out from TT’s other games. Not only is it one of their only titles not based off a previous IP, but you also don’t have a plethora of characters to choose from like in other Lego games. You’ll stick with McCain for the entire length of the story, as he spits off quips and remarks for some of the best humor in Lego history. In fact, despite being a completely original game, City Undercover has a compelling light-hearted story, with fun characters like McCain himself and the Chief of Police Dunby (who reminded me a bit of J. Jonah Jameson from the Toby McGuire Spider-Man trilogy). While the ending of the game spirals out of control a bit, taking to the streets of Lego City as an undercover thug for the first two-thirds of the game is incredibly fun, thanks to the solid voice-acting and writing.
No doubt, Lego City Undercover is not only a fantastic take on open-world narrative, but it’s one of the best Lego games ever.
3: Lego Dimensions
Aidan Simonds – Is there a greater joy than playing Lego Dimensions? If anything, it must have the highest number of licensed properties in a video game. Seriously who would have imagined we would have seen a game that combines Mission: Impossible, Scooby-Doo, and Portal? The fact that there would be a Lego toys-to-life game was an inevitability. It was quite possibly the game that realized the toys-to-life concept to its fullest. It was more than simply tapping a figurine on a base. Many times, you had to build whatever you wanted to utilize. It is Lego, after all.
That doesn’t mean it’s not great gameplay by itself by any means. By the time Lego Dimensions came out, Traveler’s Tales knew their stuff. It’s unfortunate that Lego Dimensions life was cut tragically short. The toys-to-life genre may not have stuck around too long, but Lego was certainly at the forefront of it. From the number of brands stuffed together in one game, to the sheer joy that is playing a Lego game, Lego Dimensions is a game whose impact will last longer than its shelf life. We may not ever see a full Wizard of Oz or Scooby-Doo game (a decent one at least) or another Portal game. But Lego Dimensions, in a way, gave us these things, though not in a fully-realized way.
While I’m sad the demise of the toys-to-life genre means I can no longer get any new Disney Infinity figurines, it’s also sad because we will never be able to see what kinds of franchises Lego wanted to make into toys next.
2: Lego Marvel Superheroes
Aidan Simonds – I still maintain to this day that Lego Marvel Superheroes is some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing a video game. A true love letter to the Marvel Universe as a whole, it features characters from all corners of Marvel lore. Of course, the usual crew, like Captain America and Spider-Man, are here, but so are the X-Men and Fantastic Four! In fact, they’re integral to the plot! This is also a game where you can play as lesser-known characters like Squirrel Girl, who can literally throw squirrels.
If you want an idea about how much this game holds, just take a look at the character list. Sure, some characters may be missing, but it’s still an impressive roster, especially considering the restricted roster in games like Marvel vs Capcom Infinite. Heck, Lego Marvel Superheroes had you running around an open-world New York City before Insomniac had even attempted it. It was pretty much Infinity War before Infinity War had even been announced, with all of the Marvel heroes teaming up to stop the cosmic threat of Galactus (one of the villains stronger than Infinity Gauntlet-wielding Thanos, honestly). Heck, it’s still the best-selling Lego game for a reason.
While the sequels following it may have been a bit disappointing in comparison, nothing can stop the absolute high that is Lego Marvel Super Heroes.
1: Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Ethan Braun – The truth is, while Traveler’s Tales has done great things with the Lego brand over the past decade and a half, it has never topped the highs of its very first series: Lego Star Wars. In an era before TT Games had voice acting talent, they faithfully recreated the events of the first six Star Wars films almost note for note. This game is the best translation of a franchise into the Lego format, and its complemented by enjoyable, lighthearted levels, puzzles, and combat that is both simple and mentally-challenging.
Lego Star Wars really is the perfect kid’s game, but at the same time, there’s enough meat here for adults to enjoy. For the course of more than 30 levels, you’re challenged to explore every crack, beaten trail and corner, thinking outside the box to collect all the Mini kits and unlockable characters. Lego games would later go on to be known for their wealth of collectibles, but Star Wars did it the best, rewarding you at every opportunity for using your noggin and manipulating the environment with character-specific abilities.
While this iteration isn’t as chalk-full of humor as later titles would go on to be, the Lego art-style is enough reason to revisit the plot of these movies in a different format. Re-watching Lego scenes like the infamous garbage-chute scene from A New Hope, or the Land-walker takedown on Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back, or the Ewok battle on Endor from The Return of The Jedi is always nostalgic for people who had a childhood love for the original films. Sure, they may not vary much, but they don’t need to – these movies are masterpieces! … well, at least three of them.
TT Games has expanded a lot since 2007, but they’ve never recreated the magic of their very first game. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is the greatest Lego game of all time.
So, what do you think of our picks? Should we have included Lego Batman or Lord of The Rings in the list? What are your favorite Lego Games? Let us know!