By Miguel Acuña
In the thrilling Halloween season, I’ve been out of the loop regarding some of the more recent developments and going-ons in the world of Geekdom and games. While catching up, there was one single piece of news that truly shocked me and got me in the feels. On October 23rd, it was announced that LEGO Dimensions was canceled and there would be no additional expansion sets coming out. Over the past year, I had become a huge fan of LEGO Dimensions and looked forward to the new characters being announced and new sets being released. Initially, I was not a fan of LEGO Dimensions when it came out in 2015 as I felt it was a Disney Infinity, Amiibo, and Skylanders clone. The business strategy was obvious and simple: convince people to purchase a “starter set” and in order to get the “full experience”, you would have the option to purchase and collect additional sets and characters. As I already have an addictive personality when it comes to collecting, it became clear that I would need to stay away. Sadly, one day I went to a friend’s place and played their copy of LEGO Dimensions. There are few things more awe-inspiring than putting Legolas, Batman and the Wicked Witch of the West into the T.A.R.D.I.S. to fight Lex Luthor. That is possibly the most ridiculous and amazing sentence I have ever written. I was instantly hooked. Between the beauty of the game itself and the many collectibles, at its core, you were purchasing fun LEGO sets to build and create.
After I had seen everything this game could provide, I jumped into the franchise and did not hold back. I bought multiple sets and characters and was disappointed for not getting into this franchise earlier. There was a serene sense of calm when building sets and a sense of fun and adventure while playing the actual levels. LEGO has its brick-like hands in almost every franchise known to man. This allowed them to incorporate their own properties with Lord of The Rings, DC, Harry Potter, Back To The Future, and much more. It was almost impossible not to find a franchise that called to your own personal tastes. The aspect that would help hook you in was that each character had their own abilities which would be helpful when taking on certain levels or essential to unlocking certain achievements and in-game collectibles. For example, Finn from Adventure Time has acrobat abilities and a versatile sword, whereas Homer Simpson has a sonar-smash-burp and super strength when transformed. It becomes the player’s choice on what characters to include to access specific abilities. Additionally, this does not begin to touch upon the many vehicles and items characters come with. The previously mentioned T.A.R.D.I.S. gives you the vehicle ability of flight, tow cable, stealth and yes, travel between time and space. LEGO Dimensions provided you an incredible main story campaign where your main team of Gandalf, Wyldstyle and LEGO Batman would encounter new worlds and allies to defeat a greater evil. For a LEGO game, it was a very rich and well-written story and had the kind of depth you don’t find in many other games. The replay value is where this game truly shines and where you can spend almost limitless hours playing. After the main storyline is completed, you can return with new allies or characters to unlock what was previously unattainable or access new worlds and levels with new characters (such as the Dr. Who campaign or the Fantastic Beasts campaign).
All of this digital fun does not overshadow the immense excitement and sense of pride that comes from putting together the sets themselves. Not only do you build sets and are given easy walkthroughs as you play the game, but as you unlock new abilities for your vehicles and items, those same sets can be taken apart and rebuilt into completely new configurations with different powers. The LEGO Movie’s Benny has a spaceship which initially only has the flight and cargo hook ability. This can be upgraded and rebuilt into the Lasercraft which unlocks the laser ability and finally it can be rebuilt yet again into The Annihilator which unlocks the ability to blow up silver LEGO pieces in the game. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment that I had forgotten over the years which was rekindled when putting together these sets and characters. I had created something with my hands and it played a major role in a game I was playing and got to interact with. This wasn’t like buying an Amiibo which you scanned and the character appeared, this was almost similar to giving life to random LEGO bits until you had a new ally in the game. There’s almost a zen-like quality to putting together these sets which helped me further understand and cement why LEGO continues to be such a big dog in the toy world.
Once I was completely immersed into the LEGO Dimensions world and community, I kept up with news and rumors about upcoming sets and exclusives. It was this community which helped me locate a very hard to find Green Arrow minifig with his own abilities and first reported about the upcoming Beetlejuice and Sandworm set. I took some time out from LEGO DImensions to focus on other games as this was a multiverse where you could spend hours upon hours and never get bored or experience the same playthrough twice. Despite not playing the game, I still bought sets to enjoy on a rainy day. When I finally returned to LEGO Dimensions, it was too late. The “Year 2” of characters and vehicles released (which included Beetlejuice, Teen Titans Go!, and the Powerpuff Girls) did not do well commercially and was the last nail in the coffin of Dimensions. It had been rumored that all of LEGO’s resources were going into the new Ninjago movie and their focus was shifting to the upcoming Marvel Superheroes 2 game. Fans everywhere hope that these were only still rumors and that we would get a proper formal “farewell” wave which would have possibly included a continuation of the main story, the Flash (possibly CW version), Lord Vortek ( the main antagonist of the game), Minecraft, and Missy from Doctor Who. This was a major letdown for fans everywhere as Dimensions had continued to add value to an already amazing game and was being discovered by new gamers all the time. I suggested and hyped this game for many friends as it was done for me and bought into the franchise based on how much it gave you. In a world where DLC cost $40 and would give you new skins on existing characters or maps, for $12, you could purchase an Excalibur Batman with Bionic Steed, which not only gave you these characters in the game, but you also got a fun LEGO set to add to your collection, mix and match with other characters, and rebuild and unlock new abilities. This franchise gave some gamers new ways to enjoy and experience the game while giving other gamers a throwback to a classic toy building set which will ultimately never die.
Mainly in high school and college, I was very into Gundam model kits. It was awesome to see these mechs in some of my favorite animes and they put them together myself with all of the detail and articulation you would expect from a high-end kit. While the Gundams looked amazing on my shelf, I did wish that there was something else I could do with them aside from taking pictures or posing them. LEGO Dimensions provided that missing piece. You purchase a baggie of small pieces that look like someone put a character in a blender, then piece by piece it begins to become familiar again. What began as 101 tiny pieces, ultimately becomes Sonic, his speedster car, and Tails’ Tornado plane. This now gives you the opportunity to have Sonic run around STAR Labs, with the help of the T.A.R.D.I.S., Voldemort, and Red Lantern Supergirl’s light constructs. LEGO DImensions was an amazing franchise and definitely was much more than a cash grab gimmick. Even by allowing similar characters to be used with any set, you could borrow your friend’s Gizmo character instead of purchasing your own. How often will any company allow you to uses characters and pieces across platforms and console generations anymore? It provided a very rich and expansive multiverse with fun characters, amazing and often hilarious abilities, and made each one as unique as possible so you never felt like you were buying the same figure multiple times. Harry Potter controls regular magic, whereas Voldemort controls Dark Magic. The sets are still being sold everywhere and there are constant sales if you keep an eye out. If possible, I would HIGHLY recommend getting LEGO Dimensions. Especially if you manage to get wind of a special, you could easily pick up the starter set and multiple expansions packs for less than the price of a brand new game. I will continue to build my sets and incorporate them into my game. After which, while I do have a nice display for them, I will pull out some older characters just to make new teams. The joy that LEGO Dimensions has brought me has also led to me re-discover LEGO as a whole. As soon as that LEGO Batman Ultimate Batmobile comes down in price, it will also be mine. I welcome you to build your own universe and explore every inch of it with your personalized team of your favorite characters. In a time where the only “cool” games are wartime shooters and underdeveloped/overpriced fighting games, it’s a wonderful break to get into K.I.T.T. with Chell from Portal as your back-up. Thank you, LEGO Dimensions for all you’ve given us and I hope you will find your way back onto our systems to further expand this multiverse.
So until next time, and there will be a next time, make sure to not lose any tiny pieces and never stop building.