LEGO Island: The First Lego PC Game [Retrospective]


[typing]
[funky jazz music] This is one of those games I know that plenty of
people grew up with, but I’d never played until now. Lego Island, developed and published by Mindscape
in 1997 for Windows PCs. This is the first of the officially-
licensed Lego video games, and in a world where we’ve got a new Lego thing
tossed out what seems like every other month, it’s kinda neat to look back at where it all started. This is a later print run of the
original release of the game, which boasts how it’s sold over a million copies, so you should give in to peer pressure and buy it, too! Otherwise, you’ll be a loser for the next 19 years, until you pick it up on eBay for a YouTube video. Inside the box, you get the game
on a delightfully-colorful CD-ROM and an instruction manual in the form of a comic book! OK, just seeing this, I’m already sold
on the game. This is awesome! Sure, it’s talking about the same installation stuff
and gameplay elements any other manual does, but it’s presented in a way that makes me happy! Lego Island begins by providing
some full-screen intro cinematics, generously tossing around characters and locations that mean absolutely nothing having not played the game, but it’s just so earnest in how cool it thinks it is,
so I’ll give it a pass! After this you’re greeted by an Infomaniac… [chuckles]
Wait, that came out wrong. He’s THE Infomaniac! Gotta be careful with the phrasing! Anyway, this dude is hyped up on
something strong, and possibly illegal. INFOMANIAC: Hellooooo! ¡Hola! Willkommen! Bienvenue! Konnichiwa! Aloooooha! How ya doin’? Yo! And in any language, welcome to Lego Island! LGR: I don’t think I’ve ingested
enough sugary cereal for this game. Oh, well, enter a name and
choose a character to play as. Each one of them has their own little intro video and each one of them will be responded
to in specific ways by the population. What population, you may ask? Well, Lego Island is an open-world sandbox. In reality, it’s more like a fancy 3D interface
for a selection of short mini-games. Think Sonic’s Schoolhouse, but with fewer accidental expletives. In a way, it also resembles
those children’s activity centers you used to see so many of in the mid-’90s, where you wander around and
click on things to see what happens and occasionally you’re given
some kind of objective to complete. It’s open-ended, but it’s not exactly high on emergent
gameplay or creative freedom, which is a bit strange for a
Lego game, if you think about it. Here, you’ve got an island to explore, which features an assortment of buildings,
citizens and random events taking place. And in six key areas, you’ll be
presented with six different events: pizza delivery, auto racing, tow truck driving, ambulance driving, helicopter piloting, and crappy Wave Racer. And yes, you’ll notice a pattern there. For a game about Lego bricks, which is a toy that lets you imagine
and create literally anything, there sure is a huge focus on vehicles. Again, I’m kind of confused by
the lack of creative freedom, but, hey, it’s the first Lego game,
so I guess they had to start somewhere. At least you get to build most
of the vehicles in the game, although, again, you’re only limited
to creating them brick by brick, tock by tick, [crossfade to WOMAN singing]
No matter how thin, no matter how thick. ♫ Papa told Mama And Laura told Nick You can move a mountain If you do it brick by brick ♫ LGR: Sorry, that song is darned catchy. [clears throat]
Uh, yes, other than changing come colors and stickers on a few of the pieces, you can only place them in the order
and the location the game tells you to, which… alright. That’s fine. It’s still a welcome aside to the rest of the game which is… okay. It’s okay! Not amazing, not groundbreaking, but totally passable. I can imagine I would probably like this a lot more when it released and I was 11 years old, but without any nostalgic ties to the game, there’s not really a lot to write home about here. For one thing, the tech behind the
game is a pain and a half to deal with. I started playing the game using Direct3D mode on my main Windows 98 PC, with a 750 MHz Pentium III
and a 16MB Voodoo3 card and… Wow! To say the game runs too fast and
the controls are insanely twitchy is an understatement. It seems Lego Island is one of those games that ties the underlying simulation to the frame rate. And since it’s made for a 120 MHz Pentium I system, you start running into major
issues on anything much speedier that pushes the game beyond
10 frames per second or so. Yes, ten! That’s just… ugh, no! So I ended up forcing it to run under
a software-emulated graphics mode and slowed down my CPU a bit, and I got it to be a more-tolerable 25-ish frames. It’s still not ideal, since the
controls remain too responsive, some of the animations are screwed up, and the whole game looks darker for some reason, but hey, I’ll take it over THIS any day. Right. So, the game is hard to run at the correct speeds, even on what you think would be appropriate hardware, but what about the gameplay? Well, there’s really just not much to speak of. As established earlier, the side activities
all involve driving to some degree, and none of them are particularly fun. Pizza Delivery puts you on a skateboard and has you delivering pies
to citizens around the island. Auto Racing is the absolute worst
driving experience I’ve had in a long time. Tow Truck Driving doesn’t involve you doing anything except going somewhere and watching a cutscene. Ambulance Driving is… really the
same thing as Tow Truck Driving, just with dead people, or people that almost die. Helicopter Piloting is kinda neat,
if only for the different perspective. And Crappy Wave Racer… is crappy Wave Racer, but still not as bad as Auto Racing, thank goodness. So, if it’s not for the gameplay,
why is this so well-remembered? Well, I think I know the answer, and that is personality! Lego Island is chock full of it, even if this is just a glorified activity
center with crappy engine code and some pretty weak mini-games. Lego Island is an absolute charm fest when it comes to the snarky characters, the upbeat soundtrack and the story. Yes, there’s a story. The gist of it is that there’s an
evil dude called the Brickster, and since he’s a man that just
wants to watch the world burn, he’s in jail. That is, until you deliver a spicy-hot pizza to him, which he uses to destroy the locks and escape. Which, hey, you can’t blame me. The sign says “No Pizazz.” Nothing about pizzas. How was I supposed to know? After some cutscenes that remind me of something straight out of a spastic Garry’s Mod Machinima, you go on a wild goose chase after the Brickster. He’s driving around destroying all the buildings and you’ve got to stop him before
the whole place is looking more grim than the Lego Group’s financial outlook circa 2004. Eventually, you’ll take to the skies and toss pizzas at him to slow him down, and toss donuts to the cops
to lure them to the Brickster. And if you succeed, then yay! The world is saved and Lego stock prices soar. If you don’t, then oh my God is it terrifying! [BRICKSTER laughs maniacally] BRICKSTER: All mine! Mine?… [man sobbing]
[sad Dixieland music plays] LGR: And that… is Lego Island. A game that charmed the pants off me, even though I’m not wearing pants. Maybe it’s not the most fantastic PC game of ’97 and maybe it’s not the outlet of creative freedom that I thought it could be for a Lego game. But it still manages to remind me of
some of the best parts of childhood. Where villains are bad because bad things happen. Where anyone can do anything if they only show up, because that’s what my generation
was taught for some reason. And if you fail, then it’s the worst thing in the world and all you can do is admire the carnage. Three cheers for pre-pubescent memories, Lego Island! Hip hip hooray! [woman singing]
♫ If you think the family’s ready For a plate of good spaghetti Sorry if it makes you cry But all we got is pizza pie… ♫ LGR: And if you enjoyed this episode of LGR, perhaps you would like some other episodes of LGR, which are these right here. You can click them, or come back
every Monday and Friday to see more. That’s when the episodes come out. And as always, thank you very much for watching.

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100 thoughts on “LEGO Island: The First Lego PC Game [Retrospective]

  1. "You can move a mountain, if you do it brick by brick"

    Actually, it occurs to me that the Lego universe is the only place where that line is not a mixed metaphor haha

  2. I remember loving this game so much as a kid–mostly just because I loved Legos haha, but beyond that I was actually pretty well taken with the illusion of the open world. I loved just doing the pizza deliveries and cruising around the island–very much the same sort of mild, lowkey pleasure that I've gotten later in life via driving for Uber, or driving 45 minutes to work each day for another job, or running cross country after school, or other such forms of simple, repetitive, menial activity. Doesn't speak very well to the gameplay haha, but as a literal child I enjoyed it.

    If there was one gripe I actually do remember it was the fact that you couldn't get that goddamned lego skateboard anywhere in real life! Haha, oh how I yearned for that Lego skateboard, or maybe not "yearned" but in any case I wanted it for my little lego worlds, but so far as I could discover by looking at toy store shelves and the straight up Lego Magazine my child self talked my folks into getting me a subscription for somehow, that skateboard was phantasmagorical, legendary–ungettable haha. I got over it. That said, to this day if someone shows me an actual physical Lego set with the skateboard in it, I think I might poop. Poop in ecstasy, mind you.

  3. Took me months to trigger the brickster story. As I recall the game kinda guides you to it but you could go a long time without finding it pre internet. I think that's what made the game awesome to me was getting totally bored and frustrated but then having an a bunch of new cut scenes and a challenging new bunch of gameplay pop up. Not much today value after you've saved the island a couple times though.

  4. I remember I tried to play this when I was like 8 or 11 but this game made me feel nauseous and dizzy whenever I played it on the pc

  5. Ohhh i remember the Lego Island EXTREME, was that the 2nd part of this Game?

    Was funny to play, one of the 1st Games i had for my PlayStation2

  6. I likes Lego Island 🙂 Most of all I liked this dude in the cave behind the door 😀 As kid I thought it would lead me to a pirate world or something like that.

  7. I remember playing this when I was around 7. I loved and had no idea what the future had in store for the Lego brand. Still an interesting concept of a game, though!

  8. Loved this. Very fond memories. I was obsessed with lego and computer games. This was life changing for me haha

  9. This was one of the very few games i had when i as a little child. And it kept me disappointed. I would just sit there walking or driving around in this game, wondering what i could possibly do… i never found something to do….

  10. I loved, loved, loved that game as a kid. I STILL remember every lyric to the Brickolini's jukebox songs.

  11. I grew up with this game. My friends too, and yes, we ALL knew it was a crappy game. But like you said in the video, it's a fond memory. It was such a charming world and I loved being in it. I really wish I would have heard of Daggerfall back then.

  12. My cursor was RIGHT on the the thumbnail of this video when I was done with a compilation of end tags for the "800-588-2300 Empire today" commercials from 1977-present

  13. im so happy someone finally plays this and puts it on yt I loved it when it came back and i remember tring to make my own lego charcaters with bits i had and playing like the game

  14. Lego racers 2 and lego loco were also staples of my childhood on my dads pc and i nearly cried when he bought me spongebob the movie the game absolutely mental

  15. Lego øen 2 was the best. Too bad i lost box art. And CDrom :'( i have island 1 and lego racer 1 and 2 boxed up and ready for pc. I feel incomplete now 🤣

  16. My family could only afford one computer game for the Windows 98 Packard Bell we had. This was it.

    I played this for hours until the computer overheated and died. Restart, and repeat. Then I got Civ III and played that for hours until the computer overheated and died. This was a common theme.

    Being the first computer we had and just dial up Internet only for email, we assumed everyone’s computer overheated and died after a few hours. Nope, just a crap computer.

  17. This was my favorite game as a kid, then our PC broke and i havent played it like 10 years cuz i had PS2 but man i was tearing when i played this after all these years again 😀 it was so hard to run thought

  18. I loved this game. The game rewarded exploration by giving you short performances from the characters in specific areas. I felt like everybody on the island were my friends, I even liked the Brickster. The game has so many idiosyncrasies that there's just nothing like it.

  19. THANK YOU !!!
    My mom did rent this game 24h for me at the " médiathèque " when I was 6, and then impossible to find it there again, never been able to recall the name. So THANK YOU !!!

  20. I still remember the excitement of finding that secret little cave thing. I felt like I won the lottery.

  21. My computer could hardly run this but boy did I try!
    Thanks for the review it brought back some good memories!

  22. wait they are talking and it isent a modern lego game so lego batman 2 isent the first game to have talking in it hmmmmm

  23. dear god i forgot about this game till this day…. as soon as i saw this i remember playing it on my win 95 (Maybe 98) pc and many memories (no clue of specs of my old though) i spent many hours throwing pizzas and doughnuts.

  24. I liked exploiting the autonomous driving glitch.

    You drive a wheel vehicle to a speed, then exit and the vehicle keeps going… all around the island via some kind of route! xD

  25. The humor and voice acting in this game was so well done that the glitched out boss fight and over simplified gameplay can be overlooked.

  26. just found your channel, so im binging all your game reviews atm! can you do a review of star wars phantom menace? the game

  27. Had this game when I was a kid and spent many, many hours using it to put vehicles together on my PC, even though I had a few massive containers of legos sitting in a closet nearby.
    I distinctly remember the tow truck and ambulance rescue sections, and the fact that the truck stop was "Octane" brand. I also remember that years later when I was 12 or 13, I found out that "octane" is a real word that refers to the rating of gasoline, and it blew my mind. Good times.

  28. Did anyone else think you could open the door in the cave?
    I was under the impression if you got all red squares with all the characters in all the races the door would open.

  29. NOTE
    Since the original music of the game on the CD-ROM is compressed, the music sounds terrible.
    Recently, some of the original tracks on their master cassettes have been released for the world. The original tapes were lost in a boat house accident. But some of the original tracks are still there. The tape used was an archive.
    https://projectisland.org/music/

  30. I played this game at a friends house when i was kid. We played alot there, sims, star wars.. this….. this…..
    THIS… game.. scared me alot . Not the Brickster like evryone else seem to be freaked out about, just the world.. the emptyness of this depressesing sick little twisted world..
    The fact that you can always look to the edges of the map no matter where you stand, the low res cutscenes, the humor that makes me feel totaly dead inside (EVEN AS A KID I HAD THEESE FEELINGS) i felt lost and empty indside. It still makes me feel really strange when watching this. I feel no nostalgia even we played this game for hours and hours. This very limited "open world" trigger claustrofobia

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