With production coming to an end, big-name releases drying up and previously-confirmed titles getting cancelled left, right and center, Wii U owners have every right to feel a bit glum at the moment. Switch is coming early next year and with Wii U sales stagnating, Nintendo's focus has rightly shifted to the future, and its promising dual-screen console has effectively been put out to pasture.
If, like me, you're a parent with Wii U-loving kids, then this presents a rather awkward situation. Christmas is looming and for many Nintendo-owning fans, the video game cupboard is bare; my son has hungrily digested all of the console's AAA content, leaving him little to look forward to this festive season – save for a title which is now over a year old yet keeps on giving.
When Lego Dimensions was first announced many assumed it would follow the same format as rival "toys to life" brands like Skylanders and Disney Infinity, bringing out new games on a yearly basis to keep the tills ticking over. Around the launch of the game last year we were lucky enough to sit down and chat with TT Games Associate Producer Mark Warburton, who made this interesting comment:
We waited for the technology, that was key for us, so we can keep plugging in new characters and packs to that as we see fit. Toys to life as a whole has a cost factor for entry - I have kids that are probably going to pester me to buy these things. So if you have the starter pack, for years and years to come you can grab a new character and it'll just work, and it'll keep updating on and on so that over time it becomes bigger and bigger.
We want Dimensions to be a system, in a way, always plugged in and expanding, so we want that to be focused on its own content. There haven't been conversations about pulling in other content.
Back in 2015 it was easy to dismiss this statement as simple PR speak, but TT Games and Warner Bros. have remained true to their word, and in my eyes, have given Wii U owners something to smile about this Christmas. My son is certainly grinning like a Cheshire cat, and with good reason. In lieu of any new Wii U games he's instead been getting stuck into the newest Lego Dimensions expansion packs – something he's done periodically throughout the year as new toys have been released.
The recent "Fun", "Team" and "Level" packs introduce content such as new characters to play as, vehicles to ride and even entire stages to complete, and this has done wonders for the longevity of the game in our household. The packs showcasing new characters are fun in themselves, and it's amazing to observe how much enjoyment my son gets out of simply swapping figures on the portal to hear new comments and wisecracks. However, it's the level packs which really steal the show; so far we've battled through the Ghostbusters pack in co-op and we've got the Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them offering to look forward to. While these packs come with a significant price tag – almost the cost of a full Wii U game, in fact – they offer more entertainment than you might at first expect; plus there's the oft-overlooked bonus of getting new Lego toys and figures to play with when you're not connected to the game.
As a parent, it's been fun to see how the new packs tap into my own childhood and allow me to share that with my own offspring. For example, my son's exposure to the movie Gremlins was limited at best – I wanted to protect him from the sight of a microwaved monster, after all – but he's really taken to the Gizmo and Stripe figures and (with adult supervision to skip through the really scary bits) has braved both films. The same can be said for E.T., a movie he hadn't previously encountered but is now part of his vast media knowledge base thanks to this game. He was already a fan of Sonic of course, so the arrival of that particular expansion was a joy for us both (although I have to admit my fond memories of Sega's mascot are limited to the 16-bit and Dreamcast escapades rather than newer releases).
Given that Lego Dimensions is now over a year old it never ceases to amaze me how often my son – whose attention is usually dominated by Minecraft – has chosen to return to the game. The fact that real Lego is involved creates a natural hook of course, and he'll sometimes ask to boot up the Wii U title after playing with the physical toys, but the replayability and additional content obviously contribute to this impressive longevity.
Time will tell if TT Games and Warner Bros. will continue this strategy in 2017 or will finally succumb to the temptation of releasing an entirely new Lego Dimensions title with a new portal and fresh features, but I'm hopeful that it keeps expanding the core game with these varied sets. In our house at least, it is almost single-handedly keeping the Wii U alive.
What's your experience been like with Lego Dimensions during 2016? Have you purchased any new expansion packs, or have you simply stuck with the core game? Vote in the polls below and let us know your thoughts with a comment.
Have you been buying the Lego Dimensions expansion packs? (74 votes)
Yes, I've picked up all of them so far
Yes, I've bought a few of them
No, I got the core game and haven't picked up any of the packs
I didn't even know there were packs to buy!
Please login to vote in this poll.
Would you like to see more packs for the core game in the future? (89 votes)
Absolutely, TT Games and Warner Bros. should keep the core game alive
I'd prefer to see a full sequel compatible with original packs
I don't mind either way
Please login to vote in this poll.