With the first game released in 1995, the Lego toy line has inspired numerous video games based on a variety of aspects in the toys.
Relatively well-received as a great "family" franchise, the series has won a number of awards. Lego Creator, a building engine based off of the Lego toy line, was given awards from many outlets for being a top family game. Lego Island is considered to be one of the best games released in the franchise, receiving incredibly high scores from numerous publications, as well as being awarded "Family Game of the Year" from the Interactive Achievement Awards. Other recent games, such as the Lego Star Wars, Lego Batman, and Lego Indiana Jones franchises, have all received moderately good scores.
Spanning across nearly every console in the past decade, the Lego franchise has been translated into a wide variety of genres, sub-franchises, and individual games. Many separate Lego toy lines have spawned franchises of their own, while many Lego games are based off of the creation aspect which has made the Lego toys so popular.
The first Lego Island was released on October 2, 1997. The game was developed and published by Mindscape for the PC. Lego Island was very well received for its interactive environments, simple gameplay mechanics, humor, and soundtrack. The goal in the game is to capture The Brickster (once the player lets him out) and put him back into jail, but beyond that there are few necessary objectives. Lego Island essentially presents the player with an interactive open world that has a variety of side missions to do (e.g. pizza delivery, jet ski racing, etc).
The second game in the franchise, Lego Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge, was released in 2001 for the PC, PlayStation, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance. Developed by Silicon Dreams and published by Lego Software, The Brickster's Revenge puts players into the shoes of pizza delivery boy Pepper Roni, who must once again put the Brickster back behind bars. An action-adventure game, Lego Island 2 centers around a quest to retrieve the blueprints of every building on Lego Island (rebuilding it) and then capturing the Brickster once again.
The third and final game in the franchise, Island Xtreme Stunts, dropped the "Lego" in the title, and offered another action-adventure game starring Pepper Roni (just like the second game). The game was released on November 18, 2002, and was released for the PC, PlayStation 2, and Game Boy Advance. In Island Xtreme Stunts, Pepper Roni must yet again capture the Brickster. This is accomplished in a non-linear fashion; the island is completely open for exploration. The player must collect parts to rebuild buildings, play mini-games, and perform stunts for a movie titled "Xtreme Stunts."
Lego Creator is another sub-franchise in the Lego franchise. There have been four games released in the franchise, with the first ( Lego Creator) released in 1998 for the PC. The games focus on the creation aspect of the Lego toy line, allowing numerous customization options and a variety of bricks to use when building a scenario. After creating a scenario, it can be played using a mini-figure placed in the level, interacting with "action blocks" (blocks which perform specific actions, such as exploding or moving an object).
Developed by Superscape and published by Lego Media, Lego Creator: Knights' Kingdom is the second game in the Lego Creator sub-franchise. The game retains the creation aspects of Lego Creator, but also uses this premise in a battle against Cedric the Bull. By creating Lego models and mini-figures (both of which are entirely customizable), the player must battle Cedric the Bull.
The last two games in the franchise, Lego Creator: Harry Potter and Lego Creator: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets were focused on the Harry Potter universe, and specifically have blocks and minifigures based on the films and books. In addition to customization, there are a variety of options in the Hogwarts school, such as four extra rooms and the Hogwarts Express (which is completely interactive).
Released on July 31, 1999, Lego Racers is the first in a sub-franchise of Lego racing games. The game was developed by High Voltage Software and published by Lego Media for the PC, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, and PlayStation. A kart racing game, Lego Racers features the option to either use pre-built Lego karts and drivers, or customize the kart and driver. This franchise is based off the Lego Racers toy line of Lego sets.
Lego Racers 2, released on September 21, 2001 allowed for much more freedom than the first Lego Racers game. Lego Racers 2 has a variety of worlds to explore, talking to characters and (naturally) racing. Each of the five worlds available are based of off a particular theme, such as space or dinosaurs. In addition to the completely new worlds, Lego Racers 2 has numerous power-ups that can serve many purposes, such as stealth and weapons.
Another Lego racing game was released in 2000, and was developed by Graphic State Games. Lego Stunt Rally featured a track builder and new power-ups. The track builder can be used to build tracks for both single player and multiplayer games. One aspect of the game that was dramatically different from other Lego racing games is the fact that steering is completely controlled by the computer. Acceleration, braking, and lane changing are the only aspects the player is in control of, completely changing the way the game is played.
The fourth Lego racing game drastically changed settings and themes from the first two games. Drome Racers was released for the PC, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, and Xbox on November 20, 2002. The game was not incredibly well received, garnering mediocre reception across all platforms. Based off of the 2002 "Team Nitro" Lego sets, Drome Racers sets Lego racing in the year 2015. The player is put in the role of Max Axel, a Lego racer who must win the Drome Championship.
The Bionicle Lego sets has spawned numerous Bionicle video games, based off of the many films and toys. The first few games, Lego Bionicle (which unofficially carries the subtitle "Tales of the Tohunga" to differentiate it from other games and the main toy line) and Bionicle: Matoran Adventures were released on the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color respectively. These games are both action-adventure games starring a variety of the Toa (the main characters in Bionicle).
The third game, Bionicle, was released in 2003, and was developed by Argonaut Games. Bionicle was based off of the movie Bionicle: Mask of Light, and essentially follows the same plot (along with parts other parts of the Bionicle storyline). An action-adventure game, Bionicle puts the player in control of one of the Toa, fighting against their enemy, Makuta.
Released in 2005, Bionicle: Maze of Shadows was the third handheld game, and the fourth Bionicle game released in the franchise as a whole. Maze of Shadows was released for the Game Boy Advance, and stars a Toa named "Metru," who fights a variety of enemies to unlock special abilities and eventually heal another injured Toa. This game is notable for being one of the few canon handheld games in the franchise.
Bionicle Heroes, the final game released in the Bionicle franchise, was released on November 14, 2006 for a wide variety of platforms. Taking control of an anonymous hero, the player must stop Piraka. Piraka has transformed all of the creatures on the Bionicle homeworld of Voya Nui into monsters. The hero must fight these creatures, collecting Lego pieces and eventually defeating Piraka. Most of the console versions of Bionicle Heroes were action-adventure games, while the Nintendo DS version switched formats to a first person action game.
Lego City Undercover
Lego City Undercover was initially exclusive to Nintendo, this open world series is set within the Lego City playsets and released as Lego City Undercover on the Wii U in March 2013, and Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins on the Nintendo 3DS. Lego City Undercover later released on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Playstation 4 in March 2017.
The "Lego Popular Franchise" Franchise
Since 2005, some of the most popular Lego games haven't really been Lego games at all. Instead, they've been the result of taking pop culture franchises that are totally unrelated to the brand, and presenting them to the world through the medium of Lego.
Lego Star Wars: The Video Game debuted on March 29, 2005, and quickly became one of the most well-known and well-received Lego games to date. Selling over 6.7 million copies worldwide, Lego Star Wars was developed by Traveller's Tales and published by LucasArts. The game is a third-person action-adventure game that puts players in control of a variety of Lego figures based on the Star Wars franchise. Players go through several levels based on the first three movies (Episode I, II, and III), fighting enemies and solving puzzles (gameplay that has now become standard to modern Lego games).
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy takes the next three movies ( Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) and offers a variety of missions based on the plots of the films. The game was released on September 11, 2006, for numerous platforms. The gameplay stays the same, putting players in control of one of many Lego mini-figures. The game is one of the highest aggregate scoring games in the franchise, receiving an average of 81% (Metacritic) on Xbox 360 and 84% (Metacritic) on the PlayStation 2.
In addition to these two releases, the games were combined in 2007's Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Yet another sequel in the franchise, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, was released on March 22, 2011.
Tackling another LucasArts intellectual property, Lego Indiana Jones transforms Harrison Ford's beloved character into a Lego minifigure. The first game, Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, was released on June 3, 2008. The game follows the same plotlines of the first three films, putting players into the shoes of Indiana Jones and several other characters. The game adds several new aspects that were not seen in Lego Star Wars. Characters can pick up and use items found in the environment (e.g. shovels, swords, dynamite), interact with and drive vehicles, and each character has a fear which temporarily immobilizes him or her.
The second game in the Lego Indiana Jones franchise, Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, was released on November 17, 2009. The game completely recreates levels from the first three films (no levels are rehashed from the first game), as well as adding levels from the fourth film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The general gameplay stays the same, although some new features are added, such as a level creation mechanic and splitscreen play.
Lego Batman: The Video Game was released on September 23, 2008. Like other games in the Lego franchise, this is a linear third person action game, where the goal is to complete each level while gathering blocks, defeating enemies, and solving puzzles. In this game, however, players are given the option of playing as either a hero or a villain, each with a separate campaign. The sequel, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, was released in June of 2012.
The Lego Harry Potter franchise covers all of the years of Hogwarts. Two game in the series have been released: Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7. In Lego Harry Potter, the "hub world" of Hogwarts is consistently changing as the game progresses, considering that the game is intended to span four years. Other than that difference, and a few other minor gameplay changes, the game is largely similar to previous Lego games.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game was released around the same time as the film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Spanning all four movies, Lego Pirates allows players to explore and fight in the Pirates universe.
Lego Lord of the Rings is based on the film trilogy, and uses audio from the movies to give the Lego characters voices and to recreate scenes from the films.
Released in 2009, Lego Rock Band was developed by Harmonix, Traveller's Tales, and Backbone Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts, MTV Games, and Warner Bros. Interactive. The game follows the same gameplay style as traditional Rock Band games, but features Lego customization and collection of Lego bricks.
Rleased in 2013, Lego Marvel Super Heroes was developed by Traveller's Tales.
Other Lego Franchises
Many other Lego franchises have been adapted to video games. In 2000, a Lego Alpha Team video game was released starring the members of the Alpha Team trying to prevent Ogel from dominating the world. The Lego Rock Raiders toy sets also had a game adaptation under the same name, released in 1999. Rock Raiders was a real time strategy game in which players collect Energy Crystals and locate missing Rock Raiders. The short-lived Lego Knight's Kingdom line of Lego sets had an action-adventure game released for the Game Boy Advance in 2004, although the game received negative reception and did not sell well. Lego Universe, a massively multiplayer online role playing game set in the Lego world, was released in 2010.
Lego Battles, a real time strategy game released on June 9, 2009 exclusively for the Nintendo DS, is one of the few Lego games to be a real time strategy game (the only other game being Lego Rock Raiders). In Battles, there are six factions that each combat with another specific faction. Each faction has a separate campaign and goal.
Other Lego Games
The Lego franchise has seen many other standalone games. The very first game in the entire Lego franchise, Lego Chess, was released on February 4, 1995, and is essentially a chess game starring Lego mini-figures. Two very unique Lego games were Lego Technic Cybermaster (1998) and Lego Friends (1999). Technic Cybermaster allows players to use both a physical Lego model as well as a virtual one in a Lego city. Lego Friends was a Lego game targeted towards the female demographic, allowing players to take control of an all girl Lego band.
Lego Loco, released in 1999, was a top-down train simulator with Lego construction and customization options (the goal of the game is to create a functional Lego town). Another simulator, Lego Land, was released on April 18, 2000. Lego Land is in the same vein as Roller Coaster Tycoon in that it allows players to take control of their own amusement park, this particular one being Lego Land. Lego Soccer Mania, released in 2002, is a soccer simulator that allows players to create teams based off a variety of Lego themes (e.g. pirates, martians, cowboys).