The history of LEGO can be traced back to
the village of Billund Denmark where master carpenter and joiner Ole
Kirk Christiansen established his own business in 1932 to manufacture a
variety of house old equipment such as ladders, ironing boards and more
importantly... wooden toys. As the popularity of Christiansen grew, he
soon decided to name his business LEGO in 1934 which means "play well"
in Danish and ironically "put together" in ancient Latin. After a few
tragic incidents, the company soon discards their primary ingredient
wood and emphasise on plastic building blocks that were the building
blocks of the LEGO empire that we all know and love today.
One just has to look in just about every
toy store in the world to know how popular LEGO is with kids and
fortunately for those advocates of LEGO, it has finally hit the computer
world with a variety of children orientated games that include chess,
car racing and also some creator games that lets children build their
own unique and entertaining LEGO worlds.
The first game on our agenda is LEGO chess
that is distributed by Red Ant Enterprises in Australia and teaches
children from as little as 3 years old to play one of the oldest games
in existence. The installation of LEGO chess was a breeze and it simply
auto-installed when the CD-ROM was detected and the beauty of all LEGO
software is that it requires the minimalist computer to run the
software. This is great news for parents who may have an old computer
lying around because LEGO software only requires Windows 95 or higher, a
Pentium 166Mhz or higher, 4MB of onboard graphics and around 200MB per
game of hard drive space.
Once the software was installed, we were
greeted to an extremely user friendly interface that offered younger
gamers a variety of options from learning how to play chess to also
challenging friends over the modem, LAN or internet. The LEGO chess
board is brilliant with rather impressive graphics considering that
everything in the gaming environment is created from LEGO. Gamers also
have the option of playing the traditional LEGO chess board or with
various different themes such as pirates or the wild wild west.
Graphically, LEGO chess is a true
wonderland on the PC and actually looks like what a LEGO chess board
would look like in real life with also 3D animated characters for that
extra touch of realism. Apart from the amazingly cute graphics, the
title also contains various sound effects that goes hand-in-hand with
the title that cannot be missed.
LEGO creator: Harry Potter
Our second LEGO review title was LEGO
creator Harry Potter that allows young gamers to basically recreate the
Harry Potter universe that includes famous landmarks such as Hogwarts
University, Diagon Alley and even Hagrid's hidden house. The beauty of
this title is that children have a plethora of building blocks to create
their own magical worlds and it is ideal for helping a child's
imagination. Once their worlds have been created, children can then
explore the cities and landmarks that they have created and what more do
parents want because not only is this title educational, helps with
imagination but also assists with computer skills.
As with LEGO chess, LEGO creator Harry
Potter features the same style of graphics that almost looks like you
are playing with real LEGO blocks. Even the characters in the game such
as Harry Potter or Hagrid look like their movie counterparts. There is
also a variety of different sound effects to help young gamers create
their magical universes. My nephew simply couldn't get enough of this
title and I must say that some of the creations he created were rather
LEGOLAND was probably our favourite title
from the series because not only does it allow gamers to create their
own LEGO inspired theme parks but it also requires them to manage them.
LEGOLAND also contains a variety of different mini-games and rewards for
players who manage their theme parks correctly because if the customer
is kept happy, then the gamer is also kept happy. Although younger
gamers would have problems with the micromanagement of the title, gamers
around 10 years of age should have no problems with this.
Graphically, LEGOLAND looks fantastic and
once again almost looks like you are actually playing with LEGO. The
beauty of LEGOLAND is that the game is a true 3D game that allows
players to actually get close to the action that almost makes you feel
like you are walking through a real LEGO theme park and truly brought
back memories from our youths when MYER use to have LEGO exhibitions.
The sounds and music from the theme park matches this title perfectly
and I could not fault this title. The only downside to this title was
trying to pry my seven year old nephew away from the computer in order
to write these reviews.
LEGO Racers 2
Last but not least is LEGO Racers 2 which
is the sequel to the extremely popular LEGO Racers. Ironically, I
use to play the original game around 5 years ago and even though I was
28, it was still an extremely entertaining game. However this time the
developers have decided to up the ante and have included 5 new LEGO
worlds with over 24 tracks that will basically have young and old alike
hooked. A new instalment to the series is the introduction of boss
characters that the player must defeat in order to proceed to the next
country. Another impressive feature is that players can also upgrade
their cars and there are also a variety of different hidden games that
litter this title.
Graphically, LEGO Racers 2 is easily the
most impressive title of the series and features some state-of-the-art
graphics with a variety of special effects and awesome use of lighting.
As with the previous titles, the world's look like real LEGO and match
that with some exciting sound effects and a great musical score and you
have one exciting game. Unlike the other games, this title requires a
Pentium II 266Mhz or greater to run this title but I'm betting that most
people own at least a Pentium III or greater these days.
In conclusion, the LEGO range of games is
ideally suited for young children but games such as LEGO Racers 2 or
LEGO Chess will still have appeal to some older gamers. These games are
as close as you can get to LEGO without having to clean up the mess
afterwards. Check them out now!