Whereas Activision’s Skylanders has seen fit to release a whole new game in the series each year, complete with a variety of new toys with new gimmicks to go with them, Warner Bros. Interactive and Traveller’s Tales have taken a different approach with LEGO Dimensions, simply supplementing their Starter Pack with toys that open up new downloadable areas and content to be played in.
As for the game itself, I won’t go into a whole lot of detail here (I did that in my Nintendo Force review last year), save to say that it takes the core LEGO game experience fans know and love and takes it to the next logical level. Instead, I’m looking exclusively at what these two movie-based sets bring to the table.
Unlike the Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack, the E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial Fun Pack and Gremlins Team Pack don’t add as much in the way of new game content, though you might have surmised that from their designations. Instead, you get new figures and accessories which bring new abilities to the game, along with Adventure Worlds based on their respective movies.
For E.T., you get a LEGO-fied version of the eponymous alien to assemble, complete with a potted flower to hold, and the “Phone Home” accessory, which is basically just a neat little old-fashioned (by today’s standards) telephone constructed from LEGO pieces. E.T. himself has a number of handy abilities which can be used in the main game and other hub worlds to solve various puzzles, including Illumination, Fix-It, Stealth (wherein he dresses up in costume as per the movie), and Telekinesis.
The Phone Home is a bizarre item of sorts, as it can be carried around and used whenever you like to summon E.T.’s human friend Elliot, who appears on his BMX bike. You can rebuild it into the Mobile Uplink (which instead summons his UFO) and the Super-Charged Satellite, with each iteration offering new abilities, including flight and lasers.
Toy-wise, the Gremlins Team Pack offers twice as much bang for only 2/3 more money, and that’s not bad, mathematically speaking. The set comes with LEGO-fied Mogwai Gizmo (with a cookie) and the leader of the first pack of evil Gremlins, Stripe. Gizmo has the bulk of the abilities, with his small size allowing him to get into tight spaces, as well as use of his paperclip bow and flaming arrows from the second movie (oh, and he can transform into a Gremlin form, too!). Meanwhile, Stripe can dig and use acrobatics, though perhaps the most darkly humorous is when he just pulls out a pistol to shoot something (sadly, his real-world toy form doesn’t get to carry that).
In addition to the two figures (who are pretty fun to team up just on principle, being enemies and all), there are two accessory/vehicles in the set. The first is the R.C. Racer, which sadly lacks its Barbie pink color scheme from the first movie. On the upside, you can actually kind of fit Gizmo onto it to make it look like he’s “driving” it, unlike many vehicles in this line. It does the standard car stuff, and has a sort of electrical field it can throw up, while also being able to be rebuilt into the Gadget-O-Matic and Scarlet Scorpion for more abilities.
Then there’s the Flash ‘n’ Finish, a LEGO build of a not-Polaroid instant camera that the characters can ride as it emits lasers and blinding flashes of light. It can be rebuilt into the Rampage Record Player and Stripe’s Throne.
With the figures in play, you can use them in the main campaign, though they sadly don’t change anything except to aid you in gameplay — it’s still Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle’s show. And of course, you can use them to help solve puzzles found in other Adventure Worlds that require a special touch as well.
E.T.’s Adventure World takes place in the California town of his movie, while Gremlins takes place in the snow-covered city of Kingston Falls around the holiday season. And as I’ve said before, I love it when the in-game world reflects the real-world atmosphere, which makes Gremlins World a huge hit with me.
Sadly, E.T. World takes place at Halloween, which means that this set came out just a bit too late to really take advantage of that sort of synergy. Worse, I just found that world to be comparatively dull. It’s pretty, in a very brown way, but it just didn’t do much for me.
Gremlins World, on the other hand, was a lot more fun, as there’s just more conflict to be dealt with when dealing with rambunctious creatures running amuck per the movies versus a stranded alien who just wants to go home. The references just seemed better, too, including to one of my favorite bits from the sequel, where Brain Gremlin was advising everyone to “put everything they’ve got into canned goods and shotguns” (changed to water guns here — which is actually worse, when you stop and think about it).
One common problem between the two is that it seems that the abilities of the included figures don’t seem to get them very far in their own worlds, at least when it comes to solving puzzles to get gold LEGO bricks — you need to call in other characters frequently. Fortunately, I found that those included in the Starter Pack are usually equipped well enough for the job, and even found E.T. to be quite helpful in Gremlins World. It just seems like a shame that they aren’t a little more self-sufficient. I guess the kids might enjoy that prospect a little more, but that part didn’t do much for me (save for when a character made a reference to one of their crossover companions, that’s always good for a laugh).
In the end, E.T. makes a valuable addition for other games and worlds, but unless you’re a big fan of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, it may not do as much for you on its own. Gremlins, on the other hand, feels like a slam dunk to me (though I’ll admit to a bit of seasonal bias there… that, and I just liked that movie more). Of these two, I definitely recommend that as the one to grab first and foremost this holiday season.
These LEGO Dimensions expansion packs were released on Tuesday, November 18th, 2016 at a price of $14.99 for the E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial Fun Pack and $24.99 for the Gremlins Team Pack. LEGO Dimensions is available for Wii U (reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3. The expansion packs are compatible with any version of the game.
Review samples were provided by Warner Bros. Interactive.
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.