New Dimensions in Lego Fun

Last Christmas, my nephew gave my older son Lego Dimensions for the PS4. It took me until about 2 weeks ago to try it myself and I’m glad I finally did.

As a kid, I never really cared much for Lego. It was ok, but it didn’t really excite me; I never really had the knack for building cool stuff with it. Most of my creations were at the level of what the typical 3 year-old makes, only I was closer to 10. I had a friend who– in high school– made a Veritech fighter from Robotech out of Lego and the bloody thing looked better than the licensed toys in the store at that time. It even transformed without the need of any parts being removed. It worked like a Transformer. It was crazy.

When my older son, Aeddan, became interested in Lego a number of years ago, he was drawn to Ninjago. while I resisted at first, I eventually wound up watching several episode of the cartoon with him and enjoyed it more than I expected to. Over the years, we bought him a number of Ninjago games and although I never really played them, I occasionally watched him play and found myself becoming more and more of a Lego fan. When the Lego Movie came out, it cemented my new opinion of Lego as being pretty damn fun. I totally enjoyed the movie and am now looking forward to the Lego Batman movie.

When my son opened up Lego Dimensions, I didn’t think to much of it, figuring it was just another attempt at a Skylanders clone. We had tried Skylanders when I was desperately trying to find a game that could appeal to both of us and while we liked it, we didn’t really love it and thus didn’t invest a ton of time into it. Later, I picked up Disney Infinity, which I really liked (especially the Marvel stuff), but it didn’t do much for Aeddan. I figured it would be the same with Lego Dimensions.

I was both right and wrong. Aeddan isn’t into it that much– he seems to be outgrowing Lego (despite still occasionally being found with a Ninja in his pocket– but his brother is thrilled with it. As for me, I really, really like it too, although I am not so sure my wallet will.

The amazing thing about Lego Dimensions is the number of franchises it brings together. the basic pack has you team up with Batman, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and Wildstyle from the Lego Movie. Seeing these characters together is just really cool. I loved seeing Batman (from the “real” Lego Batman world) meet up with the Lego Batman from the Lego Movie, and watching them try to out-Batman each other. When the trio make their way to the world of Oz, they encounter Dorothy and her friends on the yellow brick road and Batman exclaims “the Scarecrow! I knew it…” which had me laugh out loud at a video game for the first time in a long time. Later Batman ribs Gandalf about his magic, asking why he can’t cast spells like the Wicked Witch of the West.

I couldn’t resist picking up Superman and Wonder Woman and will probably get other heroes, especially if the rumour of Marvel Heroes being added turns out to be true. I also couldn’t resist picking up the Doctor Who character pack. That alone is worth the price of admission for me and hearing that Red Dwarf will be added is just smegging brilliant and the icing on the cake.

In terms of gameplay, it is pretty standard Lego game fare, except of course, for having the actual toys to build and play with, which I have surprised myself by enjoying far too much… With Ninjago, Ghostbuster, DC heroes, BBC characters, the Simpsons and others all coming together in one game, I really don’t know what isn’t to love about Lego Dimensions. It certainly appeals to a very wide audience and has proven to be a fun game that can be played by me and my kids. It may have taken the toys-to-game idea from Skylanders, and it may be the same Lego gameplay that we’ve seen dozens of times before, but everything just seems to come together so well.

Looks like this year, I will be the one asking for Lego at Chrismas.

Tabletop Gaming with your Kids

I used to play D&D.

I started in grade 8 and played for a couple of years. Later, some friends (including the manager of a comic shop I made my purchases at) started a Shadowrun campaign and asked me to join. I did so, happily. When our GM left the group, I took over and spent more than a decade in that position.

We left Shadowrun when Vampire the Masquerade came out and I was the Storyteller for a multi-year campaign. I loved it, although I should have passed the Storyteller position to someone else sooner than I did, because I was worn-out creatively.

When my family moved to a new city, one of the things that I knew I would miss was gaming. I loved creating characters and stories. I loved getting together with ”the guys” once a week to fool around and have fun. Yes, I knew I would miss it, but… I looked forward to having my son to play with as he grew older.

I first tried introducing my older son to D&D (his brother is still too young). I figured that since I had started with D&D it would be a good idea to introduce him to RPGs the same way. I wasn’t about to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on the newest version, though… Fortunately, I still had my old, beloved Rules Cyclopedia, which in my opinion was one of the best D&D products they ever put out and used the Mystara setting, which I had very fond memories of.

Well, things didn’t go the way I planned….

I started of with a quick intro to character creation and then set my son loose on the unsuspecting world. He came across an elf who brought him to a dark, foreboding cave in the hopes of rescuing a missing companion. My son heard the cries of terror from within the cave and…

… ran back to town for more help.

Granted, it wasn’t the most heroic of choices, but one I could sympathise with. sadly, help arrived too late for the elf and his companion. sadder still, I found the game mechanics much more cumbersome than I remembered and this was basic D&D. I was a little disappointed (with the game, not my son) and pondered whether I was now too old to keep all that useless gaming info in my head. Looking up tables wasn’t as much fun as I remembered.

So, we set out to find a new game. An easier game. One that was a little less ”crunchy,” and focused more on the storytelling and character development. We also debated what type of campaign to try. Stick with fantasy? Science Fiction? Create our own world, or base it on an existing property?

Well, mainly it was me debating that. My son just wanted to have fun. So we (I) set out to find something that could appeal to us both and allow us (me) to build a fun setting and memorable characters. We have looked at a few systems, some more promising than others, but I think we have a winner. I’ll discuss some of the choices in future posts, but the main thing is, we look like we’re prepared to have some fun.  I still miss my gaming buddies, but this will be good, too.