Nostalgia Trip: Lego!

11 05 2011

Where the heck has the PC version of Lego Pirates of the Carribean disappeared to? I’m not joking – this is a genuine, honest, confused query. Many review sites still have it labelled as a PC game, nothing immediately registers after a quick Google search and Amazon is still listing it in the States. So why don’t any UK retailers seem to be stocking it? If it doesn’t appear soon I may have to gather a crew and launch a plunderin’ raid on the dev’s HQ. Not much ocean between Birmingham and Cheshire, admittedly, but we’ll commandeer a canal barge for the purpose! Yarr!

Whilst I procure my cutlass, pistol and parrot, how about we look back at three other great Lego games from the days of yore? Well maybe 1998 isn’t yore-ish enough, but it’ll have to do.

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

These days, most games with Lego connections are made by Traveller’s Tales and based on a popular film franchise, from Pirates, back to Harry Potter, Batman and Indiana Jones, but it was all kicked off by Lego Star Wars in 2005. It was billed as a kid’s game, but, being the super-cool 15-year-old that I was, I couldn’t resist buying. It’s not surprising that the basic formula of the Lego series hasn’t changed in six years when the benchmark was as well-established as it was here, with enjoyable, collectible-driven gameplay driven on by gentle parodies of Episodes 1-3. The sequel perfected the formula, bringing better vehicle levels, more characters, more levels and more everything without changing the driving gameplay one jot. The other games are great – honourable mentions to Lego Batman‘s collectible Dark Knight minifig keyring! – but this still remains the high point, a lovely retreat into innocence and enjoyment when I don’t fancy anything serious.

Lego Racers

It’s Mario Kart, but with Lego. For a nine year old, this was all that I needed in life. I can still remember many of the tracks (especially the shortcuts) and can just about tick off the list of powerups available. Actually, let’s put that to the test. Red: cannonball, harpoon, laser, rockets. Blue: shield, better shield, bigger shield, biggest shield (Amazing, right? And I’m not even using Google!) From the neat construction tool that let you build your own custom hotrod to the pantomime characters (Basil the Batlord is the best), this was the greatest game I could possibly want at the time. And it had the best theme tune ever. Ever. Whoever uploaded it to Youtube is a hero.

Lego Chess

I got this game on my birthday (eighth or ninth? No idea) along with Lego Creator and Lego Loco. Get ready for this – the jewel cases had Lego studs on the side, so you could build things on them! Or clip them to each other! Or do whatever you felt like doing with them! Or you could play the game itself. I’m not sure if I learnt to play chess using this, but it certainly made it more fun, boasting as it did two chessboards based on the Pirates and Western themed Lego sets. There was even a storyline: in the western one, a sheriff had to capture three outlaws by winning three increasingly difficult chess matches. That’s a story, right? The best thing about the game was indisputably the cutscenes that played upon capturing an opposing piece, like when a cowboy artilleryman (rook) comically pancaked an Indian shaman (bishop), or when pirate pawns laid traps for foolish captains involving trees and bananas. Many giggles were had when my primary school chums and I got our hands on this. We were a cerebral bunch, y’know.

Right, devs, there’s your fawning article. Now send me my copy of Lego Pirates or I’ll keelhaul you landlubbers ‘neath the hull o’ me narrow boat!

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