Tag Archives: LEGO

2018 Game Review Haiku, #36 – LEGO Jurassic World

Four dino movies
In usual LEGO form
Not a clever girl


For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

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2016 Game Review Haiku, #43 – LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

2016 gd games completed lego star wars the force awakens

BB-8, so cute
It is the best droid, true fact
Poor R2-D2

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

100%-ing LEGO Marvel Super Heroes nearly broke me

lego marvel superheroes 100 percent grind

Naturally, I saved all the elements I hated the most for last when working towards hitting the 100% completion mark in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Like races, of all variety. Like replaying every story level a second time to find the last few collectibles. That’s it, really. Those are the two mission types I disliked the most, as the fetch quests and bonus levels kept things lively, and so long as you have a character that can fly–my go-to was always Galactus or Ms. Marvel–then you can zip around the hub world and start checking off tasks…somewhat quickly. Getting there is no big problem, but one still has to factor in solving the puzzle to unlock the gold brick, vehicle, or character.

Races in the sense of a competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc. to see which is the fastest in covering a set course are just the worst when it comes to open-world videogames. I avoid them at all costs. I think I did the obligatory one in Grand Theft Auto V and never went back. There are a few types in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: in air, in vehicles, or on foot. None of them are fun. One mistake generally costs you the entire race, forcing you to go back to the mission giver and try again, which is sometimes not an easy process. The flying ones are a real hassle as the controls for zipping through the sky like some cool person are clunky and, nine times out of ten, work against you. Here’s a real kicker though: Maria Hill challenges the player to a go-kart race on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, but it’s on a digitalized, floating track in the sky, and if she wins, the track disappears, and you fall all the way down to the city below. Want to try again? You have to either fly back to the Helicarrier or use a warp station.

Let’s talk a bit about Stan Lee. You know, the iconic American comic book writer, editor, publisher, media producer, television host, and actor who loves making cameos whenever it comes to all things Marvel. He’s a collectible in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, and there’s fifty in total to rescue. One Stan Lee in Peril is found in all the story levels and bonus levels, with the rest, a good twenty or twenty-five out in the hub world somewhere. Thankfully, an icon appears on the map to let you know where he is, but you can naturally only rescue one at a time. He’s not Multiple Man, mind you.

Anyways, after rescuing a bunch of Stan Lees in the hub world, I noticed there was no new icon showing up, which lead me to both recheck the map several times, but also assume that any new Stan Lee rescue missions were locked until I did something else. Or hit a set percent completion. As it turns out, that was not true; instead, there was a Stan Lee icon on the map the whole time, just hidden underneath another icon, one for a story mission that I had already completed. I only saw it visible when glancing at the mini map; you can’t see it through viewing the large map. In short, I could have been collecting Stan Lee the entire time, but didn’t because the developers thought it was a good idea to hide the icon on a map they clearly knew gamers were going to use as a means to set waypoints and track down things. In shorter, screw Stan “The King of Cameos” Lee.

Lastly, even after hitting 100% completion and enjoying the warm fuzzies of seeing all those collectibles collected, I still wasn’t done with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. See, I began playing the game co-op with my girlfriend, and evidently the Falling…with Style Achievement for successfully sky-diving off the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier is glitched if you try to do it first in co-op. The only way for me to pop it was to start a new game and never bring in another player. More frustratingly, you don’t get access to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier until after the first story level is completed. Imagine me, drained from grinding my heart out on LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, having to play a story level for a third time simply to be fully done with this mutation. Also, you can’t skip cutscenes the first go around. I grumbled through it, jumped off the Helicarrier, saw the Achievement pop, and felt an invisible weight lift off my shoulders.

At one point during my seemingly impossible climb to 100% completion, Deadpool mocked me for even trying. Made fun of me going after all these collectibles or doing another vehicle race simply to check it off an imaginary to-do list. I get that that’s Deadpool’s thing, breaking the fourth wall and whatnot…but when the videogame you are attempting to master is leaning back and laughing at you, one has to wonder. Super heroes are often defined by their sacrifices. I feel like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is one of my greatest.

Turn LEGO Marvel’s post-game grind into power

gd lego marvel super heroes final grind

When I beat LEGO Marvel Super Heroes over the weekend–and by beat I mean finished all the mainline story levels and watched the credits roll–I was around the 17% completion ratio. Yowza. I’ve since then been plugging away at all the miscellaneous tasks in the hub world, finding new side levels to unlock, as well as replayed a level or two to get all its minikits or save that Stan Lee in peril I missed on the first attempt. I’m now around the 34% completion ratio–double yowza–and that’s after several hours of doing my thing. Yeah, these LEGO games are becoming more bloated with each new release.

Let me list everything out that I need to complete for LEGO Marvel Super Heroes in terms of collectibles to convince myself that I’m not a crazy fella:

  • 150 Minikits
  • 50 Stan Lee in Peril
  • 11 Deadpool Red Bricks
  • 250 Gold Bricks
  • 156 Character Tokens
  • 40 Vehicle Tokens
  • 11 Hub Missions

Triple yowza. Yeah, this, as far as I can tell, is the largest LEGO game to date. If you’ll recall, I really struggled with hitting the 100% mark in LEGO Lord of the Rings, and I only just topped off LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean recently after keeping my distance for four whole years. At times, it can feel overwhelming or simply frustrating, as finding where the collectible is and gathering it are often two very different things. Here, it requires constantly finding the right character to use and then switching to another and then maybe even to a third. Also, I ran into a problem before completing all the story levels where, if you had Spider-Man or the Hulk in play and tried to hold the “change character” button, instead, they would perform a transformation animation. Which meant the only way to change characters then was to find a blue machine via the map; thankfully, this doesn’t seem to happen anymore now that I’ve kicked Galactus’ butt.

Replaying the story levels in Free Play mode continues to feel like the developers are stretching the content a little thin, especially when the only goal of going back is to get a few items previously locked off. Now that hub worlds are a bigger focus for these LEGO games, all collectibles should be kept there so that you only need to experience the story levels once. It’s not like the critical path changes because you bring in Absorbing Man or The Blob instead of the traditional heroes. Look, when I’m president, whether of this country or the Republic of Videogames, I’ll make this happen–I swear it.

All that said, I can’t stay away from these games. They are silly and fun and not terribly punishing in the moment-to-moment action sequences, though I did look up a cryptic puzzle solution or two. You can sort of pick back up where you left off and, so long as you’re gathering studs and got some multipliers on, you are making progress. Slow, but steady. Plus, while I don’t know every single character making an appearance here, I do have a deep fondness for all things X-Men, which means I’m constantly using Cyclops to destroy gold statues, Jean Grey to mind-control innocents, and Wolverine to dig up junk. Characters that fly or hover a foot off the ground can be tricky to use, especially since some like to speed up in the air on their own or never want to touch terra firma ever again.

Even now, as I’m grumbling about trying to finish off my current LEGO logjam endeavor, I’m still thinking about getting LEGO Jurassic World for the home console, as the 3DS version really did not do it for me. Plus, though I only saw the first of the three Hobbit films–talk about bloated, Peter Jackson–and didn’t much care for it, there’s also LEGO The Hobbit to consider. Let me look up what other ones I’ve missed out on in the last few years: there’s two other LEGO Batmans, The LEGO Movie Videogame, and a couple from the Star Wars universe that I’m not really foaming at the mouth for. Toss in the inevitable LEGO Ghostbusters for good measure. Yeah, I should have enough block-building, stud-collecting grinding for years to come. Join me.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #54 – LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

2015 games completed Lego Marvel

Loki desires
The Earth to be eaten up
Build a better world

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

Decided not to endorse LEGO Jurassic World on the Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS LEGO Jurassic World impressions

In July, I went on vacation to Walt Disney World and knew that I was going to hate the plane ride to Florida–mind you, only a two-hour plane ride at most, but two hours of hate hate hate–and thought that perhaps playing a new videogame set in a beloved franchise about terrible lizards while miles high in the air would help distract me from the fact that I was miles high in the air. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to focus too much on LEGO Jurassic World on my Nintendo 3DS due to nerves and that infrequent turbulence. Since then, I’ve dabbled at it and have, after some consideration, decided not to endorse any further LEGO videogame iterations on handheld consoles. Yup, all that build-up…for a stupid quote tie-in.

Before I truly get into it, I have tried out a few other LEGO games on my Nintendo 3DS in the past, which is a fantastic system, but one not built for the scope of these stud-collecting, brick-building adventures. LEGO Lord of the Rings for the handheld seemed fine, much better than LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes. Regardless, I was hoping by now that the different iterations on consoles and handhelds would be much more similar; alas, that is not the case, as LEGO Jurassic World feels like ten percent of what one could experience–and enjoy–on a home console, which is where I do like playing these games.

Everything is smaller, more streamlined. One might say that’s a good thing, considering that, for many, the point of the Nintendo 3DS and its ilk is for bite-size action, enough to kill a bus or train ride to work by keeping your head down and not having to speak to another human soul. However, several of the levels in LEGO Jurassic World are auto-scrollers, with someone either running or driving towards the screen, and they are finishable in under a minute or so if you don’t stumble over too many obstacles. That just doesn’t seem right, like the moment when you learn that InGen’s scientists are playing god and denying dinosaurs hormones that determine their gender. The remainder of the traditional levels are extremely linear, with little-to-no chance for exploration and discovery; also, so long as you punch and break every LEGO object along the way, you are nearly guaranteed to earn the “True Survivor” challenge, which asks you to collect a specific number of studs.

On more than one occasion, a puzzle in a LEGO videogame would bring everything to a halt. Either I wouldn’t be able to figure out what person or special ability to use to advance or missed a teeny tiny detail earlier in the level. Here, on the portable LEGO Jurassic World, there’s never been a glimpse of such roadblocks. You go into a level with only so many characters, and if you try to use something that is not for your specific ability, the game tells you who is needed right away. There’s been a few boss fights against velociraptors and the T-Rex, which boil down to quick time events.

There’s also terribly long load times in LEGO Jurassic World. I feel like it’s been ages since a load time–on a modern device–has been tedious enough to warrant complaining. I mean, this is a much smaller game, with shorter levels and less to do in each one. Why does it take over a minute to move from the visitor’s center to the outside? Or even back to the main menu? Believe it or not, but this waiting is extremely off-putting, especially when all you really want to do is get into the thick of things, collect some studs, and see some dinosaurs. Here’s how bad it is; once I finish going through all the levels for all four major film titles, I will consider the game done and take it out of my Nintendo 3DS. Yes, in a rare twist, I will not be replaying any of this game to get all the collectibles or red bricks or what-have-yous–it’s just not worth it, especially when I know that I’ll eventually get to play all of this again, but on a grander scale, with Achievements to boot.

Even though this iteration is kind of a tiny pile of dino droppings, I still plan to get LEGO Jurassic World for the Xbox 360, but only after I finish it off here, in its stunted form, as well as after I get 100.0% completion rate in LEGO Marvel, which is not being played on a handheld console. Progress on that one is slow and sporadic, but we’ll get there in the end. There’s also this forthcoming LEGO Dimensions to think about too. Gah, too many LEGO games, not enough LEGO time to get it all LEGO done. Er, wait. I think I need to rest now.

30 Days of Gaming, #29 – A game you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving

I have to believe that the last time I played with LEGO blocks–actually played with them, like used them to build the most buffoonish of homes loaded with booby traps and secret rooms–was when I was still only in the single digits. Now, as a man of twenty and eight years, I play with LEGOs all the time, but digitally, with a controller in hand, using them to collect a bajillion studs, form platforms, and as a means of transportation. That’s right. From toys to videogames, the building blocks of life.

At first, when LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game came out, it was hard to think of it as anything else but a children’s game. I mean, it uses the toys of children to tell a simplified story of something much more epic, with no punishment for failing, minimalist controls, and bright, colorful characters. It plays everything safe from a visual standpoint, and at that point, no one knew what a LEGO game was. Some kind of sandbox thing where you just play around in a room with virtual LEGO blocks? A racer? Multiple choice trivia? Nowadays, everybody knows what a LEGO game is, and you’ll either love love love each one that comes out or find them uninspired and repetitious. Me, I’m addicted to their goofiness and collection-based gameplay.

I remember the very first time I played LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game quite well. I was beardless then, and in a Target, wandering around the aisles. Many of my weekend evenings were spent doing this, as at the time I had no girlfriend, no wife, no friends. A playable PlayStation 2–behind glass and locks and the occasional employee with shifty eyes–was making noise, and that noise sounded pretty dang familiar. Upon closer inspection, it was the theme to Star Wars. You know how it goes. I grabbed the controller and started playing. I was a little LEGO Jedi, and the first action I took was to use the Force to push a battle droid all the way across the screen until it exploded…into LEGO bits. Like magic, every ounce of me warmed and tingled, and it never got tiring, Force-pushing dudes. Some young kids stopped behind me to watch, ooh-ing at all the right times.

Getting to the know the LEGO games more intimately, I saw that they were just as much for adults as they were for children. In fact, many of the puzzles were overly complicated, involving planning and meticulous placements of key items. Kids might enjoy seeing characters falling down or opening a treasure chest to find a lone banana in cutscenes (those folk at Traveller’s Tales love their fruit jokes), but it’s the little nods and things unspoken that hit home for older gamers in the know. Such as LEGO Jack Sparrow’s swagger or the way LEGO Malfoy heckles Hermione or how LEGO R2-D2 floats perfectly across a chasm. And they are fun to play co-op, though maybe not at first, as the camera tech hadn’t come around until LEGO Indiana Jones 2, allowing players to split off in any direction and join back up whenever they were ready.

Since that infamous day in Target, I’ve played every single LEGO-based videogame save for these: LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars and LEGO Rock Band. That’s not surprising as I’m not interested in much Star Wars lore other than episodes four through six, and plastic instruments are inferior to true instruments. Sorry, it’s true. And I’m picking up LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7 on the same day I get Skyrim, and while I’m naturally more excited about traversing mountains, cooking salmon, and stealing spoons, I’m also giddy to get back to Hogwarts with my wife and cast some spells. Very curious to see if this LEGO game gets as dark as the final books/movies, though I’m mostly confident that TT will have handled the material a whole lot better than the film franchise.