The LEGO games are great - a little repetitive, maybe, but very good, especially for mobile devices. For the Star Wars fans out there (and boy are there a lot of you), your time has come: LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens has hit the Play Store, almost a month after release on consoles and PC.
We all know the LEGO formula by now: run around with a character, collect as many coins as possible, and advance through the game. This is tried and tested, so I'm not going to doubt it, but the gameplay does feel a little tired now.
LEGO has gained a well-earned reputation for releasing solid mobile games that eschew the usual advertising and in-app purchases, making them great choices for kids. (Okay, technically every LEGO game is an advertisement for those super-expensive toys, but there are worse ways to advertise to children.) LEGO City My City 2 - that's My City 2, using the long-running My City toy line brand, if you're wondering - is one of the company's most elaborate mobile games to date.
Far be it from me to criticize a multi-billion-dollar company for falling behind in its release schedule but... really, Warner Bros? The LEGO Movie came out more than two years ago, and you're just now getting around to releasing an Android version? Even back when video games ran on machines with the power of a calculator, they generally got around to releasing the movie tie-in within a month or so of the theatrical release.
Okay, so Jurassic World didn't exactly live up to the groundbreaking standards of the original movie. That probably doesn't matter to the herds of kids who went to see it just to watch some dinosaurs scaring the crap out of a bunch of puny humans. That being the case, a tie-in with LEGO for toys and games is pretty brilliant. After a substantial delay, you can now play the LEGO video game version of Jurassic World, which also includes bits from the original Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, and that other one with Téa Leoni.
Later this month, DC will release its next gigantic tentpole movie into theaters, in which Super-Cavill and Batfleck will (presumably) grimace at each other for 150 minutes while Wonder Woman begs them for some screen time. If you prefer your superheroes to have a little fun and self-awareness (and you can't wait for the next Marvel movie to come out), LEGO just released another Batman game in the Play Store. Batman: DC Super Heroes can be yours for $5.
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.