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Lego Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge

Score: 65%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Lego Media International
Developer: Silicon Dreams Studio
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

For all of its other issues, Lego Island 2's graphics engine is quite impressive. If you have a powerful enough system, you can turn the draw-in distance to almost nonexistent, and once you get into a helicopter and see the entire Island, it's actually quite cool. Most of the surfaces in the game have at least some reflectivity, which is a nice touch as you walk around. There is still some draw-in in a few of the more open areas, but it's certainly nothing that most people would notice. I didn't like the way that the portals to the other islands always turned to face you -- why couldn't they be true 3D objects? That's a minor gripe, however.

And, I must say, there's something inside of me that giggles at the prospect of exploring a world almost entirely made out of Legos. I wish that the main island was less earthy and more blocky, but that's a very minor gripe -- all of the buildings are made out of the eponymous bricks, and the various characters look straight out of a big box of Lego people.

The sound effects are generally quite goofy, which befits the sort of game that it is. In many of the mini-games you'll find yourself wondering if you stepped into an old Looney Tunes cartoon or something similar, with the rather strongly comic atmosphere. It's not particularly annoying, at least to me, but I can see how it would annoy some. What does annoy me is the voice acting, particularly Pepper's. Unfortunately, Pepper is also the main character (that means you), and you hear him way more than I wish you did. He sounds like someone 'trying to be cool', in that late eighties way that I remember sounded so amazingly idiotic you wanted to kick the person saying it. The rest of the voice acting is actually pretty good, and when Bill Ding said 'You're just another brick in the wall,' I had to stop myself from snorting Diet Coke through my nose. There was something about that delivery . . .

The music is passable, if nothing special. It's light and cheery, and it changes way too often as you walk around on the island, with no real smooth transition. I learned to simply ignore it as the game progressed.


And progress the game did, although not particularly entertainingly. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- kid's games don't have to be bad; they just have to be targeted right. Unfortunately, although it does get a few things right, for the most part Lego Island 2 is the same sort of tripe that's been foisted off upon the little ones for ages -- 'they're too young to notice this game is bad. Really!'

The main thrust of the game is simple. You're Pepper -- Pepper Roni, to be precise -- and you're the Island's pizza delivery boy. Pretty early into the adventure, you end up delivering a pizza to the Brickster, who is in jail presumably for his exploits in the original Lego Island. Of course, he escapes, and the rest of the game is spent catching him. The game itself generally consists of a large number of minigames, interspersed with 'adventure' segments where you have to go around, collecting items and occasionally attacking Brickster-bots.

The adventure segments range from the mildly amusing to the frustrating. Most of them are set on the Island itself, which is surprisingly large, and you're often required to hunt down a page from the Constructopedia, or worse, a Brickster-bot. This often consists of a lot of trial and error, as you wander back and forth across the map looking for the items. This is relieved to a great extent by the use of the flying vehicles, but even then, finding the robots is a pain in the butt.

The minigames range from fun to frustrating, and oftentimes the frustrating bits come from basic flaws in the game's execution. There's one minigame -- the flying one -- that I'm convinced most kids couldn't beat legimately. There are monkeys who throw things at you, and they throw so fast that you don't have time to attack them to stop them. I beat it by constantly running into the wall, which bumps you ahead in the valley. It was very, very cheap, but it worked. This is a gross error, and the fact that you're required to beat the minigame before you progress is going to frustrate a lot of little kids out there.

None of the other games are quite as offensive, but there are still some that just plain aren't fun. The cannonball one strikes me as particularly annoying, with the snake-whacking one a very close second. The driving one is also quite challenging, although I got through it with over a minute to spare on my second try.

To be fair, there are a few minigames that are actually entertaining, for the short time that they last. I got a kick out of the jousting one, if only for its resemblance to Track and Field, and the parachuting ones brought back fond memories of Pilotwings for the SNES -- especially the one at the end. The spiral platformer bit at the end of the game was pretty cool, even though I feel they cut the jumps way too tightly; I can see the frustrated faces staring at the two-block jumps as I speak.

Perhaps the greatest offense in the game -- besides the Truly Great Offense, which I shall get to in the Game Mechanics section -- is the fact that, after you collect the Constructopedia pages, the game seems to take off on its own with no real explanation as to what's going on. I talked to a few people who told me that I needed to go to the police station, or the space port, or whatever, but before I knew it I was flying off to another land without any idea as to why that's where I was going. Well, I knew that I was going there because that's where the Brickster was, but an in-game explanation would have been nice.


The game is all over the map when it comes to difficulty, although it usually squarely sits in the 'easy' section, which is where it should be. The plane flying minigame was amazingly frustrating, even for me, and I can only imagine how bad it would be for young gamers. The driving minigame is another one that I can see as a major problem. The rest of the game is quite manageable, and even if the spiral castle bit at the end is rather annoying at times, it's certainly not too difficult. Full exploration of each world is necessary to find all of the items, and while that's generally optional in all of the other worlds, on Lego Island itself it's pretty much required. And don't be surprised if your kid needs you to get them through some of the minigames -- forgiving they're not.

Game Mechanics:

The basic controls of the game are simple enough, but they're also rather counter-intuitive. Four keys, although they are required for a few of the games, also feels like a little bit of overkill. That's not counting the camera control, which often gets in absolutely wonky positions that give you minimal information about the situation you're in.

The game engine itself has a number of weird issues, which made me slap my forehead in disgust. Why does going forward in a boat make a wake, but going backwards not? How can Pepper walk up practically any cliff in the game, regardless of its angle? Perhaps the most annoying is the fact that, other than the flying vehicles, every single mode of transportation available is slower than simply walking -- including his skateboard. Huh? [Maybe it just feels that way. Regardless . . .] You'll commonly see characters clip through walls, the floor, and whatever else there is to clip through.

But, by far, the biggest offender in this game -- the Truly Great Offense -- is the loading times. I spent more time watching the spinning CD-and-pizza while 'playing' Lego Island 2 than I did manning the keyboard. Yes, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Even on my machine, I had minute-long load times between such complicated maneuvers as going from the main menu to the main Lego Island . . . and another minute-long load to go back to the main menu.

I wish I were kidding, folks. I took to reading my Tropico instruction book as I waited for the thing to change scenes or exit out of a minigame.

So while it looks quite nice, and even has a few shining moments -- the monolith on Ogel almost made the pain worthwhile . . . almost -- Lego Island 2 is going to frustrate the kids more than it's going to entertain them. The good is definitely outweighed by the bad, and there's really no one that I can recommend this game to. Point your young ones to something more cerebral, or more entertaining; Lego Island 2 is not enough of either, and in the time it takes to change scenes, you could have played ten other more enjoyable games.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

Win9x/Me, P2 266, 650MB HD Space, 4x CD-ROM, 64MB RAM, 8MB Direct3D-compatible video card, soundcard

Test System:

Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

Windows Legend of the North: Konung Windows Legends of Might and Magic

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated