As "LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes" continues to dominate PS3 playing time and news about the upcoming "LEGO Lord of the Rings" has fans excited for the gaming potential of that concept, it got us thinking about what other franchises Traveler's Tales will eventually mine for creative gold. The brilliant idea to merge two cherished memories from a generation of gamers -- LEGO & "Star Wars" -- started this ball rolling and it shows no signs of slowing down. Anyone who thinks "LEGO Lord of the Rings" will be the last franchise for this series doesn't understand the popularity of these games. Whenever there's an inevitability in the world of entertainment, it gets people dreaming. We all know what we want out of "The Avengers 2," "The Hobbit," "Bioshock Infinite," "Dead Space 3," and so on and so on. So where should the LEGO developers look for their next inspiration? Let us guide the way.
First, the franchises that didn't make the cut. We have to keep in mind that these are, first and foremost, family games. So, while it would be fun to play "LEGO Sin City" or "LEGO Alien," that doesn't really work with the brand name. Even the considered "LEGO Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (how awesome would it be to play witch Willow or angry Spike in LEGO form?) is probably too dark. And even though it would make a ton of money, no one wants to see LEGO Edward vs. LEGO Jacob in "LEGO Twilight." And while "LEGO Star Trek" might seem like an obvious choice, not only have the "LEGO Star Wars" games fully dominated that corner of the market but there are actually five better choices.
It almost seems too obvious. But that doesn't mean it wouldn't totally rule. As much fun as it can be to fly around as Superman in "LEGO Batman 2" or to harness the powers of Green Lantern, can you imagine how wicked cool it would be to turn characters like Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Black Widow free in this universe? Each character comes with their own inherent strengths and weaknesses and the best LEGO games have offered something different for each player depending on the character they are controlling ("LEGO Indiana Jones" and "LEGO Pirates of the Carribean" were weak in this department and, therefore, not as much fun as some of the other titles). The creators could recap the general action of the film and then send the Avengers lose on an original LEGO-inspired adventure. And it makes sense to start here rather than with just "LEGO Marvel" or some general concept. Of course, that would be the sequel -- "LEGO Avengers 2: Marvel Super Heroes." "LEGO Batman" is the bestselling game in the history of the LEGO franchise. This would DESTROY it.
"LEGO Back to the Future"
One of the most important elements to a LEGO game is the puzzle-solving aspect and who better to guide players through a unique, interesting set of puzzles than Doc Brown and Marty McFly? The success of the recent "BTTF" adventure games along with the spectacular Blu-ray trilogy release should mean to publishers that there's still a ton of interest in this spectacular trilogy and there's more than enough creative potential to warrant a LEGO game. This one would be more traditional like the "LEGO Star Wars" or "LEGO Harry Potter" games as the player could just go through the action of each of the three films with a central hub (maybe Doc's "lab") from which to operate. The action of the movies enhanced by LEGO studs and puzzle-solving offers more than enough creative fertility.
While some of the James Bond movies don't scream "family game," the fact is that the target audience for franchises like "POTC" and "LOTR" is not that different than the upcoming "Skyfall." And the wealth of characters to unlock and collect here is stunning. You would, of course, have levels designed around each of the incarnations of Bond himself, but you could also have so many collectible characters based on villains and henchman. Think of the glee when you could unlock Jaws. (Did I just date myself with that reference?) Activision has been releasing waves of Bond games (they have another coming this Fall) targeting the shooter audience and often following film plotlines more completely. This one should be completely original. All the Bonds, all the villains, all the locations, all the love interests in one spectacular game. It would make a fortune.
The brain trust at Pixar has created such an amazing playground for children's imaginations that it's a shame that the accompanying movie tie-ins have never been able to match them. They haven't even come close. Imagine the creative freedom that the team at Traveler's Tales could have within the worlds of Pixar. On one level, you're running around the headquarters of "Monsters, Inc." In another, you're dodging enemies in the kitchen of "Ratatouille." Do we need to talk about how awesome a "WALL-E" level could be? And, of course, linking it all together, the possibility to cross-play Pixar adventures (the key to LEGO games is always unlocking characters and replaying levels with them). Imagine taking Woody or Buzz on the adventure of "Up" or Merida taking on the action of "The Incredibles." While it may sound like a total dream project that could never come to be (and it probably is), don't forget that Disney owns "Pirates" and we've had one of those games. Pay Pixar whatever it costs to make this happen because it would be one of the bestselling games of all time.
The fact is that the reason LEGO games work as well as they do is that the tap into nostalgia. Most gamers of my generation can remember building LEGOs and watching "Star Wars," and so the merging of the two fired good memory neurons everywhere. It was perfect. Naturally, this makes nostalgia-heavy franchises good fits for LEGO games to come. And "Ghostbusters" has long threatened to finally get a video game that this '80s classic deserves. Why not look to the family audience? While there aren't a ton of character to play with here, it does offer an interesting puzzle-solving vein in that LEGO has never really been able to play with the supernatural. They could even get the voice talent now that "LEGO Batman 2" has moved from actual pantomime to vocal work. Someone call Bill Murray.