If you're new to our blog, you can be forgiven for not knowing our feelings on LEGO. If you want to learn about them, check out some our other ramblings (like how to make more LEGO kits with the bricks you already own here. Or how we made LEGO knobs for our kids playroom storage here.) Yeah, we dig it.
So when LEGO announced it's entry into the Disney Infinity and Skylanders interactive gaming world last spring we followed it with keen interest. The LEGO Dimensions trailers that rolled out planted us firmly in the front seat of a 1.21 gigawatt powered hype machine. Our kids saved up allowance money and shortly after the September release date, we picked one up.
So if LEGO Dimensions is on your list of possible gifts, let us give you a rundown of why we feel it is pretty decent. And if it isn't on your list, we may have some compelling reasons to change your mind.
First off, for the uninitiated, LEGO Dimensions (and Infinity and Skylanders) are all variations on a theme – a game with a real world “Portal” or peripheral code/tag scanner which allows you to import a new character into a game. This attaches to your WiiU, Xbox or Playstation and creates a new connection to the game.
From a pure marketing standpoint these sorts of games are marketing genius – Not only will you now be buying a game, but you will also be buying extra characters and various spin-off things for months/years to come. A big win for the company, but for you?
But, if a game like this has shown up on your child's wish list (and, at least, one of them probably has), Dimensions is probably the most frugal choice. I'll explain:
- If you are familiar with any LEGO game made by Travellers Tales (e.g. LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Harry Potter, etc) you will know what to expect – puzzle challenges involving virtual LEGO building, quests, battles and cute, LEGO-based cut scenes telling a story with comic lightness. Our whole family loves these.
- Travellers Tales has promised that the “base-unit” or “portal” will be compatible with any future updates or changes. This is, a very good thing, as Skylanders has updated theirs a couple times already, meaning even more spending.
- The characters are actual LEGO mini-figures - so it's better play value. You can remove them from the bases (the bases work without the figure attached) and really play with them. This is also unique, because Skylanders and Infinity, while cool looking, are basically just immobile statues that have little play value outside of the game.
- The LEGO Dimensions base set itself offers lots of “Worlds” to explore and hours of play value. So if all the “booster packs” have you worried – yes, they add value, but the game itself is great as-is and you don't need to buy them to play it.
- There are multiple uses for the Dimensions Portal within the game. Kids don't just drop a character on it, sit back and play for an hour – they need to get up and switch pieces and move characters around to unlock new powers. Also, there are building instructions in the game itself that allow you to build new vehicles/contraptions in the real world instead of just virtually.
- There are lots of “Worlds” to explore. DC Comics (Batman, Superman, etc), Scooby Doo, Wizard of Oz, LEGO Movie, The Simpsons, Portal, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, and more... even if you or your child doesn't like all of these franchises, there is likely something they do like there. Plus, as a parent, many of these franchises span generations, and possibly even grandparents can get involved or, at least, know what the heck the kids are talking about. Skylanders... good luck with that one.
- Just so you know, it isn't all sunshine and roses. Like all of these “Booster Pack” games, you are committing yourself to spending more money down the road. The add-on kits range in price from $15-$30 and all include at least two characters, so the future spending comes in bite-sized hits... Wait- do you think that is part of their plan?
- Like all video games, levels get beat, and interest eventually wanes. The Booster Packs, Level kits, etc open up more worlds, so in a sense, the addition a bit more money can make the game fresh and new again, so it does have a longer play-life than many other games.
- While Dimensions has a bunch of great franchises and characters already, know that Disney franchises (i.e. Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar etc) will likely never find their way to their own Dimensions World. Dimensions is the competition, after all.
- The Travellers Tales game developers have done a great job toning down all the franchises involved for all ages/audiences, but after playing a Ghostbusters or Back to the Future Level, your kids may want to watch the movies. Remember that unlike the game, those movies are PG-13 rated and trusting movies from the 80's is always dicey.
All in all, we've enjoyed the experience. And we actually like the idea of smaller, character-based kits as the new way LEGO gets money from us (because, you know, LEGO was going to find a way to make us spend money...)
Bottom Line: LEGO Dimensions is fun and engaging and we look forward to seeing what else LEGO licenses to include in future expansions. Build on!