Lego Dimensions: how the magic of Lego could dethrone Skylanders

Lego Dimensions has just been announced, finally confirming the rumours that Warner Bros Interactive were getting in on the toys-to-life genre that has flourished in recent years with the likes of Skylanders, Disney Infinity and more recently, Amiibos.

As adult gamers, we’re often quite cynical about this burgeoning genre, as it often seems like an exploitative cash grab designed to prey upon the pester power of kids on their parents. Or as we’ve seen with the Amiibos, honing in on your most loyal fans with toys that add very little to a gaming experience and even worse, releasing limited numbers of some of them, making fans snap them up even sooner, before the eBay merchants get them all. Worse yet, most of these toys add nothing to a game that couldn’t have just been DLC.

But, why are we getting excited about Lego Dimensions? Isn’t it just going to be more of the same and Traveller’s Tales aren’t exactly known for messing with a winning formula? I’ll tell you, because Lego Dimensions is actually going to include Lego. Real Lego pieces for you to build with. 269 of them in the Starter Pack.

As fun as the Lego games have been over the years (especially in multiplayer), you’ve never had to build anything in-game, with the exception of a brief item placing minigame seen in Lego Lord of the Rings, which never made an appearance in the Lego Hobbit game. But then again if they can cut a whole film from their plans (Five Armies DLC was cancelled), I shouldn’t have been surprised to see corners cut elsewhere.

Anyway, I digress. Lego Pieces. Real ones. As seen in the reveal trailer, you’ll need to build the Batmobile and Gateway Portal from the blocks before you can use them in the game. Usually, this would be handled by finding parts in game, then holding the build button while your character does the Lego build boogie. But now we get to build Lego items for real – boogie is mandatory in real-life too.

Having not touched a real Lego brick in years, this could be a disaster if my past skills at Lego are anything to remember. But I can’t wait to give it a go. More importantly, kids should love this. Lego has made a huge comeback lately as proved by the mass appeal of Traveller’s Tales’ Lego games, animated TV shows, The Lego Movie and of course the toys themselves flying from shelves.

If Activision can make Skylanders a mega hit, it should be an absolute cakewalk for Lego. Some might say that Disney Infinity hasn’t really found its feet yet. It’s too similar to Skylanders in our opinion and doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from that series.

Lego’s toys are set to be much more interactive though. The figures are articulated and the item building side of the game could be huge if Warner, Traveller’s Tales and Lego really put their heads together. Let’s just hope that players will be asked to build items frequently. For example, we don’t want to build the Batmobile or the DeLorean and only ever interact with it again by changing who sits in it (naturally, we can’t wait to put Gandalf in both).

There’s huge scope for the game to expand and have us build all sorts of items. For example, many of the crazy devices seen in the Lego games are built after finding the pieces by smashing an environment to bits. If we could buy tubs of interactive Lego pieces and then have the game tell us to dig through them to find the highlighted on-screen parts, we could actually build the gadgets for a change.

Price could become something of an issue, as some pieces are going to have a chip in them (minifigs for sure) in order for them to interact with the docking station, which could make them more expensive. However, if just a few key pieces need these chips and the rest were standard Lego pieces, then gamers and parents may be more likely to shell out the cash for them. Better yet, you might already have them in your toy boxes, or scattered around the house waiting for the soft flesh of your feet in the night.

Admittedly, there’s a lot of hopeful speculation in those last two paragraphs, but the potential for such things can’t have been lost on Warner, Lego and TT. Even if we do only end up building the odd vehicle, we’re already more sold on the idea than we ever have been on any other toys-to-life product.

Warner’s press release had another encouraging piece of information that parents will be keen to learn. The Lego Gateway (think docking station portal or Infinity base) will not become obsolete anytime soon. Skylanders and Disney Infinity have both released multiple versions of their game requiring an upgraded docking device for the toys. Warner have committed to using the same portal as far as ‘Fall 2016’. So the next two Christmas’s (at least) you won’t have to buy new kit for future expansion packs. ‘No compatibility chart necessary’ as they say.

What do you think about Lego Dimensions? Are you keen to give it a go or has the toys-to-life fad run its course for you already? Good or bad, we want to hear about it.

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