As an early Christmas gift, we have a contribution from regular reader and occasional contributor 39 Pontiac Dream. Ponty typically contributes photographs (see here, here, and here), but he’s also quite an accomplished writer in his own right. He contributes posts to the English blog The Conservative Woman, a favorite among my readers.
That said, TWC hasn’t always been eager to print Ponty’s video game-related writing. Their high-brow editorial and submission standards are The Portly Politico‘s gain: now we get to read Ponty’s writing on video games here!
I’m also excited to have more guest contributors. We’ve heard from photog in the past, as well as newcomer Son of Sonnet (read his Gemini Sonnets here, here, here, and here). Now we have good ol’ Ponty pitching in.
As the blog evolves and its audience grows, I am hoping to host more guest contributors. The pace of daily blogging has been difficult the past few months with work and other commitments, so having some other writers share the load certainly helps.
And, of course, I’d love to be able to compensate these writers (though Ponty has told me several times that getting published is enough for him). Your subscriptions to my SubscribeStar page have made some minimal patronage possible; please consider a subscription or donation to keep things going and growing!
Regardless, Ponty has written a very detailed mini-history-cum-review of British game developer Traveller’s Tales, which has published a number of LEGO games. Ponty and his wife are avid gamers, and Ponty seems to have a soft spot for these games.
I have not made any major changes to Ponty’s submitted text, other than adding an apostrophe to “Traveller’s.” I’ve even preserved the charming “u” in “favourite,” to make sure the piece preserves its distinctly British flavo(u)r.
But enough of my yakkin’. Here’s Ponty:
As you all know by now, I’m a massive gamer and have been since the halcyon days of Pong, Space Invaders and Pacman. I’ve played all manner of games from RPGs to FPSs (to the uninitiated, role play and first person shooters), sports and puzzle games, fantasy and adventure, and my favourite, survival horror. In my childhood, I was to be found at local arcades playing games like the old Sonics to Paperboy, Golden Axe and Afterburner. I love the challenge but I also adore the escapism. I do however like the odd family game and the British gaming company, Traveller’s Tales, provided, creating a Lego series, most based on popular films but one or two stand alone games. I’ll try to condense this piece because I could be here all day!
The TT games provide an excellent introduction into gaming on consoles. They’re relatively easy, though there are the odd challenges, the controls are easy to use (no buttons you have to press in split moments or tapping for an age to get past an enemy) and the environments are delightfully detailed. They’re excellent family games and humorous to boot, the odd innuendo for the adults added, and all come with a 2 player mode. For the games modelled on films, the movie soundtracks provide a great backdrop to the gameplay and depending on which game you play, dialogue will come in the form of movie quotes for some, mumbling for others. The Harry Potter characters relay the story in grunts and shrugs which I find endearing; if you’ve watched the films, you really don’t need the dialogue. The characters have been put together really well, all reflecting the personalities of their fictional counterparts, and the stories and missions are a lot of fun.
We own a few of the Star Wars games, both Indiana Jones (the second one is far better), Jurassic World, Harry Potter, Lego City Undercover, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and Pirates of the Caribbean. TT did an awful lot of Marvel based games, to coincide with the consistent releases of superhero movies, but we were never fans so my main focus will be on some of the games we have.
My favourite is Lego City Undercover, an open world story of a cop, Chase McCain, who comes out retirement to hunt down an escaped criminal, Rex Fury, he had previously caught. This is the trailer for it:
You can actually play this game on the PC but I’d recommend it for the console. The controls are far easier to use.
Apart from the 2 player issues – after certain pickups, characters or bricks will be highlighted on the whole screen and if you’re the other player, partway through a tricky mission, having it interrupted is a pain in the posterior – it’s an excellent game. It parodies characters and scenarios from TV and film, it’s often humorous and the missions and side stories are great fun. If you’re a 100% player like me (someone who isn’t content with just finishing the story but completing the entire game, pick ups included), you’ll engage in car chases, boat races and free runs while arresting the bad guys and picking up bricks to aid you throughout. It’s like GTA for the family. Like I said previously, not every mission is a doddle and some of the free runs and time trials can be a pain when you’re up against the clock. I’ll give you a flavour of what I mean:
I’d massively recommend this game to anyone who likes their games fun, sometimes challenging and engaging, much in the same way I’d encourage newbies to TT to try out Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues.
This is much better than the first of the Indiana Jones Lego games, offering more in the way of bonus levels and a longer story, also bringing in the original trilogy. I think this is the best, in terms of gameplay, of all the TT games we have but I do prefer the open world of Lego City Undercover. This is the trailer for IJ2:
Aside from the stories, the side missions and the various pick ups, the game also comes with a Lego builder where you get the opportunity to build your own bonus levels. Tina’s Lego builders are evil. She puts traps in every 3 paces and they’re a pain to get past. TT would love to have someone like her on board though in all likelihood, gamers would be pulling their hair out trying to get through her levels.
The bonus levels are really cool and come in once you’ve completed a story/level on that particular film. We really enjoy the balloon levels, where you have to collects blue balloons around the level before the chest comes up that completes it. Some of the balloons are in places where you have to get jump icons for your vehicle and are pretty tricky to reach. Others will have you leaping across precarious barriers, boxes and columns to get you where you need to go, others will have you needing to access censors to open up what you need and some of these are trying to the extreme. There are 2 that come to mind, on The Last Crusade section, that have had me launching the pad in frustration, both of which appear in this walkthrough:
The other games we have are pretty basic, but still very enjoyable, in terms of gameplay but there are also sections of The Hobbit which you’ll find trying over and over again, like the free run in Rivendell or the Dori grapple swings:
The only problem we had with Lego The Hobbit was that it didn’t include Battle of the Five Armies. I think, around the time, TT were concentrating more on the Marvel spin offs so never got around to making the last of the Hobbit franchise but I don’t think they ever plan to return to it so what you get is an incomplete game. The story, as it is, is fun and engaging and the missions more so but it doesn’t feel right not having the complete set.
I’ll say to anyone interested in entering the world of gaming that the TT games provide the best access and if you love the movies they’re based on, you won’t be disappointed with the experience of playing with your favourite characters. The stand alone games, like LCU, are just as good if not better than the spin offs.
Give them a whirl. You won’t be disappointed.