I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a thousand times more before it becomes no less of a secret: I appreciate the LEGO games. While they’ve certainly flooded the market with a veritable sea of different interpretations, some being better than others, I can honestly say that LEGO’s take on collect-a-thons have always served me well as “do nothing” games. You know what I mean?
That game you play while something is playing on Netflix or you’re secretly trying to entertain yourself during an arduous Skype call and, “Ah, beans, my camera isn’t working! No no, I’m still here, keep talking”, you utter to the concerned face on the screen as you open up Diablo or World of Warcraft. Games that you don’t need to focus on to really get the value out of them and while the collecting random stuff in games is no longer relegated to a genre all it’s own, I often find myself turning to the LEGO games to satiate my need to see that wonderful 10/10 items found screen. It’s a task that’s satisfying in its simplicity and while I’ve spent plenty of time with other LEGO games, Jurassic World is definitely up there as one of my least favourites of the bunch.
My complaints around LEGO games have never really stemmed from the lack of innovative gameplay or simple puzzles; at the end of the day, these are games that are designed to be accessible for young children, I don’t really feel the need to criticise these elements. They’re what people have come to know about the LEGO games and they do their job well enough. I think what bears a closer inspection is how Travelers Tales goes about adapting the source material into one of these games, injecting within them a unique charm that carries across the entire franchise. The most successful adaptions came from taking films that best fit the aesthetic of LEGO buildings; worlds and stories that feature the more angular, blocky architecture that can be constructed with LEGO blocks. Thus, franchises like Star Wars, Marvel Superheroes and the DC Universe are all ripe for LEGO adaptions given how much simpler it is to construct buildings out of LEGO that resemble their “real-life” counterparts.
But the Jurassic Park franchise? It’s an island. Like, there’re buildings but the vast majority of those locations are outside. Sure, there’re bushes you can make out of level pieces, but it’s far less enjoyable when the vast majority of the environment replicates the natural world. Again, Star Wars can get away with random LEGO pieces within it’s setting, they don’t stand out in a way that’s jarring. Yet having realistic looking trees in the background of two plastic dinosaurs just looks…weird. I think LEGO games are meant to simulate a child’s imagination, setting up the levels as if they were built on the carpet of a kid’s bedroom, but that doesn’t detract from how the devs were clearly exceptionally selective over what was going to LEGO and what wasn’t. Also, what stood out as super strange to me is how the Jurassic Park movies always have an element of horror in them, something that the LEGO games have never really ventured into. LEGO Jurassic World does undercut most of the more memorable tense scenes with its tongue-in-cheek humour, but let’s be honest, being chased by a life-sized LEGO Velociraptor would be way more terrifying than a real one.
The other problem with the Jurassic Park franchise, specifically in terms of adapting it into a LEGO game, is the cast of available characters. LEGO games pride themselves on offering a huge range of characters to play as and while many of them may be functionally the same or reskins of other characters, it’s always nice to see an obscure character represented in a video game when they probably wouldn’t get as much love elsewhere. Now, I’m not saying Jurassic Park doesn’t have memorable characters; we can all reminisce over Dr Ian Malcom’s unbuttoned shirt or Alan Grant’s…claw knife thing, but the franchise doesn’t have as many recognisable characters as something like the Marvel Universe. It’s a similar problem experienced with LEGO Indiana Jones, while there are many characters you recognise, the vast majority of the roster will be filled with random henchmen that don’t mean anything to anyone. Do you remember that fan-favourite character Dieter Stark? How about that beloved card of man Fisherman Jim? And of course, who can forget inGen Scientist?
Look, you could accuse the LEGO games of being cash grabs on hot franchises, especially considering how many of them come out within such close proximity towards their film counterparts, but I’ve always been able to overlook those aspects because I enjoy smashing LEGO bricks and collecting stuff. Yet I can’t deny that LEGO Jurassic World is perhaps the most uninspired game within the LEGO series. Look, the Switch port runs great but compared to all the other LEGO games available on the platform, I would advise giving this one a skip. Unless you like the sound the T-Rex makes. That never gets old.
Last Updated: September 17, 2019