LEGO's relentless acquisition of licenses with which to make building sets is matched in fervor only by its media partner Warner Bros' frenzy to turn them into video games. So it is with Lord of the Rings, which has been a staple of the toys for years, but was made into a full-fledged video game for home and portable consoles in late 2012. As has been done with Star Wars, Batman, and a few other LEGO properties, the portable versions of that game (Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable) have been adapted into a mobile version. You can get it from the Play Store right now.
The biggest trend in the toy world at the moment is the blend of "real" toys and action figures with digital games. LEGO's already dipped its toes into the same pool as Disney Infinity and Skylanders with LEGO Dimensions, but that's not the only combination that the mega-company is working on. An original franchise, Nexo Knights, lets kids build playsets based on the techno-fantasy theme and then upload the various characters' shield codes into the accompanying game, Merlok 2.0.
Games for portable consoles like the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Vita make for natural ports to mobile hardware, if only because the technical requirements for those games are only a fraction of the hardware power needed for full console titles. LEGO has already released several of these, and the latest is in the company's home-grown line of vaguely Asian-style action toys, Ninjago. Shadow of Ronin is an action title that stars the characters from the kids TV show and the building sets, and it's available for five bucks with no in-app purchases.
Like most "full-sized" LEGO games, Shadow of Ronin has you running around various 3D stages, busting up bad guys, grabbing collectibles, and "building" the various components you need to progress.
I love LEGOs. The mix of the juvenile careless joy of playing and the brainiac excitement of building new things is a satisfying feeling. But LEGOs are now way past the colored bricks that we had when I was younger. There are mechanical pieces, more complicated designs, broader possibilities, and even programmable robots.
The latter is LEGO's MINDSTORMS set. It lets you build 5 different types of robots and then using computer connectivity or Bluetooth, you could make them do things. There's an app to control them, one to help you build the different robot types, and a cool puzzle game, but now MINDSTORMS can also be completely programmed from your Android tablet thanks to this app.
LEGO's mobile games are getting more and more complex. The latest large-scale game in the series to hit the Play Store is LEGO Batman: Beyond Gotham, which originally came out for consoles as "LEGO Batman 3" back in November of last year. The version we're getting looks like an enhanced port of the Nintendo 3DS game, much like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. That said, it looks pretty fantastic for a mobile game.
You play the Caped Crusader and an enormous number of DC Universe allies as they face off against a cavalcade of some of the biggest villains in the continuity.
If the response to the first Episode VII trailer was any indication, pop culture is going to be positively saturated with Star Wars between now and Christmas. If you're in the mood for a take on the original classic trilogy and the other, not-so-classic trilogy, LEGO is happy to oblige. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, originally released for consoles back in 2007, is now on the Play Store for $7.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril, a game that found its way to consoles in 2013 and other mobile platforms in 2014, has now fought its way into the Play Store. This port has managed to come in before LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, an older title that briefly appeared on the Amazon Appstore and never found its way onto Google Play.
Unlike that relatively faithful port, Universe in Peril is not a copy of the version that originally graced consoles. Instead, it's a more portable take that's better suited for short breaks throughout the day and even shorter attention spans.
LEGO stirs up different images these days. It used to be a term synonymous with building blocks. Now it's just as likely to strike up memories of humorous movie adaptations and quirky kids' shows featuring talking animal warriors. The latest LEGO game for Android concerns the latter.
LEGO Legends of Chima: Tribe Fighters is a top-down shooter the likes of which we've been playing for decades. Your character runs upwards, firing shots at regular intervals. Enemies do the same, just in the opposite direction. All you have to do is move your character from side-to-side, dodging shots and occasionally unleashing special attacks.
Ultra Agents isn't one of LEGO's better-known series - the Marvel and DC superheroes and other licensed sets like the LEGO Movie collection get more love. But as a natural extension of some of the more original building toys from the 80s and 90s, it's a nice change that lets the designers stretch their creativity a bit. LEGO brought Ultra Agents to Android last summer, and now they've brought the sequel as well.
As with the first Ultra Agents title, this is more of an "interactive comic book" than a conventional video game. Ultra Agents: Antimatter has a tongue-in-cheek story in the style of James Bond's more flamboyant movies.
When gamers first met LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game in 2005, it was a multi-platform title available for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, and PC (along with an isometric 2D version for the Game Boy Advance). It applied the virtual toy block treatment to worlds and events from the three Star Wars prequels, and sprinkled on some of the humor we've since come to expect from LEGO over the years. The game was a hit, and a sequel followed the next year that did the same thing, only with the series' better movies and on more platforms.