It’s hard to imagine given its current ubiquity within the world of toys and popular culture as a whole, but there was a time when Lego faced collapse. Around the turn of the Millennium, the Danish company that dominated so many childhoods was reporting near-continuous annual losses, forcing them to become more commercially-orientated in an attempt to survive, ceding control to a CEO from outside of the Kristiansen family for the first time and bringing a number of outsourced operations back in-house.
One of the key decisions that they undertook was to produce sets themed around popular characters and franchises, predominantly from the world of cinema. Together with the creation of new lines (such as Ninjago) and reintroduction of old lines (such as Duplo), this has led to their rapid recovery and they are now amongst the world’s most successful and renowned brands, with a turnover of more than £5 billion in 2020.
The first Lego video games came out in the late 1990s, but the likes of Lego Racers and Rock Raiders were forgettable. Since 2005, most of their console releases have been Traveller's Tales creations based upon licensed properties such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, The Lord Of The Rings, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Jurassic Park and both Marvel and DC comics.
As they go from strength to strength, there are plenty of other avenues they could explore from a gaming standpoint. Here are eight franchises for starters.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife will release later this year, directed by Jason Reitman (son of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II director Ivan Reitman) and starring both new cast members and the three surviving members of the original quartet.
Sony/Columbia will be hoping that it will reignite the franchise after Paul Feig’s 2016 reimagining quickly faded from people’s memories. A renewed partnership with Lego, who have released just a handful of sets (including the firehouse headquarters and Ecto-1 car) based on it to date, would almost certainly be a step in the right direction given its iconic status within popular culture.
Each Lego game to date has had around twenty levels, with those based on quadrilogies (such as Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Pirates Of The Caribbean as they were at the time of release) devoting five levels to each film. A Ghostbusters game could take the same approach, dedicating 25% of its space apiece to the 1984, 1989, 2016 and 2021 films, potentially even incorporating content from the 2009 game that was previously thought to be the closest we’d ever get to Ghostbusters III.
From Ecto-1 car chases to fleeing from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, many key moments from the films would be hilariously replicable in brick form, with the capture of ghosts simple to implement as a collectible mechanic. There isn’t a huge amount of character depth, but more than enough for considerable fun and avoidance of crossing the streams.