Many people complain about series like Call of Duty or Pokemon as being the same game over and over again, but none really have the same rehashed style and gameplay more than the LEGO games. From LEGO Star Wars to The LEGO Movie, every LEGO game is a platformer, where you collect studs, switch between multiple characters, perform different abilities and can access different areas of each level with them, and the goal of the game is to get 100% (Well, that’s how I play the LEGO games). But despite the simplistic nature of the series, it’s still able to leave me with immense satisfaction everytime I see the 100% save file after hours of playing. How did the LEGO games accomplish this? Why?
One might conclude that the reason the series is fun, despite technically being the same game, is because the worlds each game takes place in are all different enough that players don’t notice or care about the similar gameplay. After all, you may call it magic in LEGO Harry Potter or The Force in LEGO Star Wars, but it’s still the same ability. The context the ability and gameplay is presented in, however, seems to allow us who enjoy the games to still have fun within these worlds we already fell in love with.
Then there’s the familiarity, the fact we know all these people long before we even started the game. Frodo, Gandalf, Yoda, Luke, Darth Sidious, Harry, Dumbledore, Snape, Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, Batman, Superman, even Adam West. These names are near and dear to our heart and seeing them in a colorful and fun environment like the LEGO games is just another way to experience the story we’re all familiar with in a new setting.
In fact, when the change moved away from silent cutscenes, I found that while it lost some of the silly over-exaggerated movements and goofy slapstick, I still enjoyed the games. The voices only further reminded me why I liked the original material the game’s based off of in the first place, though it really wouldn’t have taken much to remind me of that anyways.
Now, what I just described can also explain why kids enjoy the LEGO games, which is exactly the demographic these games are aiming for. But why do I, a 22-year-old with nearly 300 titles in his Steam library and enjoys the little contact he has to the outside world, love these games? The answer, I found, was already answered here.
I’m a collector, I want to achieve that 100% in as many games as I want. Yes, I often will not try to aim for 100% in every single game I play, but I grew up with games like Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64. Collect-a-thons are a genre that were found in the older generations of games, similar to how point-and-click and tactical shooters. Earning that 100% is the goal, the sole reason you spend hours roaming through the levels for that one last Red Brick that’ll turn that stud multiplier to times 3840.
Collect-a-thons, as I see them, are a challenge by the developers. They’re the kid pointing at the frozen pole, triple dog daring you to do it. “Come on,” they taunt,” I bet you can’t find that last little hidden cache of notes or beat the tough-as-nails challenge to get that last star.” And it isn’t something that’s limited to collect-a-thons, either. I feel that it’s the same for all games with content that aren’t required to formally ‘beat’ the game – whether challenges, collectibles, missions, what have you. The same desire that drives me to aim for that 100% in something like Batman: Arkham Asylum is the same desire that drives me to love the LEGO games.
Everyone has their own different reasons to play a game like LEGO, but when you dig deep into the why people enjoy what they enjoy, it might just lead to a more general understanding about what made these genres so popular, fun, and interesting to so many people in the first place. Perhaps similar reasons can be found in today’s popular MOBAs and shooters? As of writing this, I’ve found that to be a question worth following up on, and I’ll most likely write about what I find about what makes these games fun in the first place.
Or, the whole thing could be moot endeavor. What do you guys think? Do you guys like the LEGO games? Why? Would it be an interesting pursuit of thought about why people like these genres in the first place? Is the whole thing stupid and I’m just wasting your time? Comment down below, and we’ll find out next time on Drago-I mean Techraptor!