One of the best things about being a grown up has to be getting to do what you want, and buy what you want, but if you’ve ever been told to put away toys, a new game on the way is all about not doing exactly that.
You can call this writer immature, but there’s nothing quite like playing with Lego. Maybe it’s the creativity one can get from time with a blank canvas and an instruction to build and only build, but Lego is one of those toys anyone can go back to.
Adults don’t always go back to toys, but sometimes, it’s worth it to go back into the toy chest and see what we can dig up.
A new title from WB Games may have you doing exactly that, with “Lego Dimensions” climbing quickly to the top of the list of games we really want to own this year after spending a couple of hours with the game only recently.
More than just blocks in a box — which is what Lego kind of is — Dimensions is about making those “blocks in a box” semi-interactive, and combining the sharp storytelling seen in previous Lego games as well as “The Lego Movie” with a game that connects everywhere, from the world of Lego to other worlds you may remember fondly, like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Scooby Doo”.
While it may well be a video game, Lego Dimensions falls under a fairly recent style of toys called “toys to life” whereby figurines are used with specialised hardware to make them come to life. Granted, they won’t become robots, nor do they animate in front of your eyes; rather, “toys to life” is about taking a figurine, setting it on a digital board capable of reading the chip built into the toy, and allowing a video game to talk to the toy.
Activision was one of the first companies to try this with its “Skylanders” games, and Disney has joined a year or so ago with the “Infinity” series, which blends characters from Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney’s and Pixar’s own franchises, creating a game that has all the characters you and your kids are familiar with.
But there has always been a catch with these titles, and that’s the figurines you were asked to buy: they didn’t do a thing.
You may as well call them “statues” rather than “figurines”, because while an action figure has posable parts and kids (and a few adults) will wave them about and make voices and actions for them in their own imaginary world, “statues” are less likely to elicit that sort of response.
For both Disney Infinity and Skylanders, your figurines are essentially just game pieces that start up a character. Put “Lilo and Stitch”’s Stitch on the board alongside “Toy Story”’s Woody, and Disney Infinity will throw up the characters from each of those movies in this game, allowing you to play with them.
That’s all that will happen, however, and with no moving parts, no actual joints, arm movements, head tilts, and so on, your child is less likely to be playing with a toy.
Instead, you’re just buying characters for a game, like downloadable content or add-on packs represented by statues you’re allowed to own.
It’s a great way for toy manufacturers to make money, but it’s not exactly fun to play with.