Lego Minifigures Online is Funcom's relaunched MMO for kids. It takes those little character-based toy-kits and throws them all together in a world of combat adventures.
Each figure in the game has a primary and a secondary weapon, so ostensibly there are only two ways to attack enemies. However, the player can take three characters, all of which are instantly interchangeable, into any fight. Effectively, you are scrolling between six types of attacks, all of which have the briefest of cool-downs.
The game is based around a central hub that looks a bit like a Lego Store. From there, the player progresses through portals into themed Lego worlds, many of which will be familiar to anyone who has any experience with Lego toys.
For example, the ship in the pirate world has distinctive red-and-white striped sails, just like the toy. There are also medieval, space, mythology and dinosaur worlds.
At first the player tackles simple challenges alone, learning how to play the game and how to switch between characters. Each challenge unlocks a new character. Before long you have your own roster which can easily be managed for any given situation.
Soon players team up and enter dungeons in small teams in order to beat bosses. The dungeons react to the size of the party, so it's possible to solo the whole game, or play with just one friend. Most of the gameplay is combat-based but there are also simple puzzles and limited tower building. The entire experience is KidSafe certified.
One of the strengths of this game is the immense variety of the characters, which are all taken from the Minifigures universe of models. There's a rock guitarist, a wizard, a British Bobby and a dude dressed as a hot dog, who takes out enemies by rolling around.
It's all very kid-friendly and loaded with silly Lego humor. A knight attempts to gain entrance to a castle, but is rebuffed by surly guards. He pretends to be delivering a pizza. The guards turn into nice guys.
Although the weapons for each character are simple, they can be upgraded along the way, by racking up XP. But the bigger win is in collecting the characters, of which there are currently 100 or so. Around 40 can be obtained just by rolling through the game, with the rest made up by earning achievements, replaying levels and collecting character parts in order to complete sets.
The physical figures themselves, which sell at around $3.99, also come with codes to unlock that specific in-game character.
Funcom tried to launch this game late last year as a Windows PC free-to-play title, which fell flat. According to a company spokesperson, it's a hard sell to get parents to sanction in-game purchases on PC, and the number of players is lower than on mobile games. Back in 2010, Warner Bros. had a go at launching Lego Universe, an MMO that was considered to be overly complex and buggy and did not attract enough players to endure.
Now Lego Minifigures Online has been relaunched at $29.99 for the entire experience. Mobile versions are sold as separate levels. It's a cross-platform game, so you can pick it up where you left off on different devices.