(3DS)

LEGO Friends (3DS)

Game Review

LEGO Friends Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Lee Meyer

No friend of mine

Warner Bros. Interactive and Hellbent Games' LEGO Friends is a bad game. There's no nicer way of putting it. A squandered opportunity to make another gaming hit out of a popular LEGO property, LEGO Friends feels like a cynical cash-in designed to provide young gamers with a few minutes of mindless diversion before they request the real toys instead. There is nothing wrong with a video game aimed at young girls, in particular — but LEGO Friends is dull, repetitive, and extremely unpolished. Fans looking for a title that appeals to their youngsters should look elsewhere; LEGO Friends is disappointing in nearly every way, with the possible exception of its characters representing multiple backgrounds and cultures.

In LEGO Friends, you play as a girl who comes to Heartlake City for the summer to spend time with your cousin, Olivia, and her friends. By helping Olivia, her friends and the other citizens of Heartlake City with various tasks and jobs, you gain access to new clothing, pets and accessories to decorate your bedroom. In theory, there's nothing wrong with this; Animal Crossing is all about helping other villagers with their problems and players spend hundreds of hours in their virtual village. But LEGO Friends is nothing like Animal Crossing. Heartlake City has five main areas, with characters that will send you on ridiculous fetch quests, such as gathering items for lemonade, finding a pet that's hiding in the vents of the high school, placing posters on predetermined spots and other extremely dull activities. Completing these tasks will raise your friendship level with Olivia and her friends, which can be tracked through each girl's special "book," be it Olivia's Bright Ideas Book, Mia's (private) Journal, and others. We're not sure who thought it a good idea to make young gamers think it's okay to go through your friends' private things, but that's the least of LEGO Friends' worries.

If any of the tasks asked of your "friends" were fun and had personality, this title would be much more easy to swallow. Unfortunately, LEGO Friends is an extremely repetitive experience, with dull task after dull task accumulating and flashing on the bottom screen. To break up the monotony, there are a few minigames present that, while extremely simplistic, offer some kind of variety. Soccer was our favourite; most of these minigames are very easy, which is fine considering the age the game is targeting. Sadly, they are a very small part of the game and will most likely be forgotten among your various jobs. One other positive aspect of LEGO Friends is a light achievement system that features colourful icons to signify that you completed a task or group of objectives; for collect-a-thon fans, this will prolong the experience a tiny bit.

There is little "LEGO" to be found in LEGO Friends. You'll occasionally have to "construct" an item like you would in any other LEGO video game, but other than that and the character models, there's little of what makes LEGO video games fun here. Making matters worse is the borderline-broken game engine. Controlling your character feels floaty and imprecise, and while there's no serious platforming involved, there are times when you may have to jump onto a high ledge to help an animal or get an item. There were several instances where we simply couldn't reach the spot the game was telling us to reach. With an arrow guiding the player to each task; many young gamers will be confused and frustrated when the arrow leads them to a spot that appears to be unreachable. Poor hit detection is present throughout, as well; you'll find yourself bumping into walls that you haven't reached yet and getting stuck behind objects that you didn't think you were near.

Most egregious of LEGO Friends' many shortcomings, though, is the unacceptably choppy frame-rate and loading times. While the visuals are colourful and sweet, the game can't handle too many objects on the screen at once and will slow down, almost to a crawl, for seemingly no reason (you can guess how slow things get when the 3D is turned on). You'll also encounter long — very, very long — loading times as you enter new rooms and areas. The constant loading screens will likely grate on the patience of young gamers (it certainly did for us); since there have been plenty of 3DS games with impeccable performance and GameCube / Wii console-quality visuals, this is truly unacceptable. The sound design, at least, is inoffensive. The voice acting is generally satisfactory and the music, while a bit too peppy, doesn't make LEGO Friends any more taxing an experience than it already is.

Conclusion

Games aimed at children, be it boy or girl, should be crafted with the same care that go into more high-profile titles. Unfortunately, LEGO Friends feels like a rush job designed to make a quick buck and get parents to buy their kids the LEGO Friends figures and sets. We expect more from the LEGO brand at this point; should the world of LEGO Friends be revisited in another game, it will have to do a far better job at presenting a workable experience worth recommending. If you want a game for your daughter or little sister, titles such as Nintendogs and Animal Crossing are infinitely better choices. Stay away from LEGO Friends.

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User Comments (29)

sinalefa

#2

sinalefa said:

@leemeyer26

Thank you for actually recommending better alternative games instead of the usual "there are much better games than this one" that won't help people looking for these kind of games for their loved ones.

KittenKoder

#3

KittenKoder said:

It's so sad that so many people think dull and repetitive games are better for girls still. I keep hoping for a beautifully crafted, cute, and fun game, but now we have LEGO Friends .....

Dyl_73

#4

Dyl_73 said:

2/10 !
That's a bit harsh isn't it? Sure, it is a bit lame compared to the other Lego games, of which I have played many, and yes it does have long loading times and a repetitive play style. However, my little girl enjoys it and she is exactly the type of person who it is aimed at. She's an 8 year old Girl who doesn't spend hours playing video games. She plays them to fill the occasional bit of free time. This game isn't aimed at grown ups or even adolescents. I think you need to remember that when writing your reviews.
My score - 7/10 for young girls
4/10 for everyone else

sleepinglion

#5

sleepinglion said:

Man, the 3DS sure gets some horrible shovelware.
Thank goodness for reviews like this one.

Kaze_Memaryu

#6

Kaze_Memaryu said:

@Dyl_73 The difference is that NintendoLife writes reviews professionally. Kids don't have that critical view on games, they don't know what is good about a game and what isn't. That, however, doesn't make games recommendable all of a sudden. Bad games like this misguide kids in their expectations of quality gameplay, which in turn might lead too many of these kids to support similarly bad games because they don't know better. And that, in turn, reassures lazy developers/devteams like in this sad example in their terrible practices of ripping off full prices for bad quality.

SeVok

#7

SeVok said:

@Dyl_73 You got it a bit off mate. In my opinion reviews should be done completely objectively not taking anything into mind, not it's price, not it's target audience. The reader of the review is more than capable of looking at the review from the angle he or she chooses. Is it good enough for me? Is it good enough for my kid who is a heavy fan of the IP? Is the price justifiable for myself? These are questions only you can answer, not a reviewer.

I personally will not let my buying decision be based upon what a review things, I'll note what he said, look at the game and decide weather this is either good enough for me or for my son, simple put 2/10 or 4/10's don't scare me off if I like the concept of the game and the information about it.

BakaKnight

#9

BakaKnight said:

More than reviews when you read " is a bad game. There's no nicer way of putting it" you know a tutorial is coming about how to NOT make a game XP

Barbiegurl777

#10

Barbiegurl777 said:

The review is unfair what guy's sit's down to play a game meant for girls?

To be honest I actually thought this was one of the much more better lego titles as opposed to alot of lego 3ds games I've played in the past. I wanted to play this game in the worst way on launch day because it represents girl characters in the game & also because it's lego title. I was hestitant though as well when I called & looked online on GameStop's website & they said they had very few copies of this lego game in particular which is very unusual because any time I've ever picked up a lego game on launch day or any other time for that matter GS is usually well stocked on the lego games given any lego title for any system.

After I started playing Lego friends 3ds for a few hours after I bought it. I like it very well. It's fresh of breathe air from the regular lego games where it's consistently a guy character in the game fighting bad guys.

Don't get me wrong I enjoy the other lego titles too but also like for a change the lego brand is actually acknowledging that there are girl lego gamers. :)

My rating 10/10 for all ages & I'm 26 & enjoy lego friends - 3DS. :)

Happy Gaming! (^_^)

StarDust4Ever

#12

StarDust4Ever said:

I feel for you guys playing bad games to write reviews. Bad games can sometimes be fun for a laugh or two. I've got a couple of notoriously bad NES games in my collection that are fun to laugh at on occasion. Maybe the readon why there are so few girl gamers is because developers don't take girls seriously. They release this crap and the girls get bored and quickly lose interest in games. There's tons of great experiences out there that don't involve "kill/beat up baddies". Animal Crossing and Nintendogs are excellent examples of these. There's also some great eShop games with female protagonists. Shantea, Giana sisters are excellent platformers.

Obito_Tennyson

#14

Obito_Tennyson said:

@Barbiegurl777 Nothing could beat Lego Batman. Since you actually played the game and obviously not bias like the NL staff who think that every girl game is automatically bad, then I might actually pick this up.

I'm just kicking, the NL staff rocks. But seriously? This game is probably going to be really good. How much does this game cost today? $5? I'll buy it.

unrandomsam

#15

unrandomsam said:

@Kaze_Memaryu The professional way to do it would be to measure the reactions of a number of people in the target age group. (Hell the professional way to do things is Famitsu do - have four people reviewing every game - who have played it to the end - 4 scores if they are not sure they wait).

Barbiegurl777

#16

Barbiegurl777 said:

@Obito_Tennyson

I paid $29.99 back in Nov at GS but just checked there website today & there selling it for $19.99 now. Go figure. :)

Oh you do earn badges in lego friends - 3ds like in animal crossing 3ds I love that part. :)

Happy Gaming! (^_^)

Kaze_Memaryu

#17

Kaze_Memaryu said:

@unrandomsam That's not professional, it's juat varied. Multiple reviews from one magazine are simply a way to prevent people complaining, because there's a high chance readers agree with one of them.

@Obito_Tennyson Under the risk of ruining some irony: NL doesn't automatically rate girl games badly, the vast majority simply sucks. Developers consider girls a simple audience, and barely any games take them seriously. That's why 'girl games' are almost always bad. Even reviewing this game with the thought of its intended audience will not make it any better.

unrandomsam

#18

unrandomsam said:

@Kaze_Memaryu It is one review with input from 4 people (Who have all played the game to the end and putting in the necessary amount of effort to play it properly if necessary). The end result is it is more objective which should be the goal. (If this review was by Morgan Sleeper it would have been written totally different and got a totally different score.)

There is totally valid statistical reasons for having more opinions in trying to get an objective end result.

Kaze_Memaryu

#19

Kaze_Memaryu said:

@unrandomsam Not necessarily. These four reviewers tend to work closely together and might influence each other indirectly while testing a game. If a single reviewer is assigned to a game, he'll be able to see the game as it is, without anyone else derailing his point of view - and good reviewers (which I think all of the NL staff are) are able to review a game objectively, which is the whole point.
Only bad reviewers write bad reviews, and I don't see how this review could be wrong - I tested this from a friend of my little brother, and pretty much every part of criticism in this review was shockingly accurate, making it all the more disappointing that this is catered towards girls. Or in other words: this is another products that proceeds to treat young girls in the gaming business (be it consumer or developer) like a joke. As if they wouldn't notice the lack in quality, anyway. And they don't, if this is their first game. But as I said before, that's the whole problem with developers cashing in without any effort on misguided children (most of the shovelware of this world is trying to bait kids).

BulbasaurusRex

#20

BulbasaurusRex said:

Why would you even pick this game to review? Don't you normally stick just to the more high-profile retail releases?

unrandomsam

#21

unrandomsam said:

@Kaze_Memaryu Consistency across reviewers is more important than anything else. Without that all the content is pretty much worthless without reading every single bit of it. (Something I would rather not have to do). It is also not updated compared to what else exists. Compare some of the VC reviews with ones from respected publications from around the time and you will notice the quality has dropped (And the amount of waffle has increased).

Kaze_Memaryu

#22

Kaze_Memaryu said:

@unrandomsam Consistency is a very vaguely defined term when it comes to reviews. Neither can you expect a single person to write every review, nor should reviews be strictly organized.
Different ways of expression and creative writing are necessary to keep people interested, so variety is actually important. After all, reviewers need readers to keep their jobs (as unflattering as that may sound).
The work of a professional game reviewer is too time-consuming to do it alone for an entire website (at least not when aiming to review every game available on Nintendo platforms), and multiple reviewers playing the same game is too inefficient. Famitsu can do that because they don't test nearly every game available.

Also, the worst thing any reviewer could do is comparing games. A game must convince and impress by itself, not by comparison. Only the core mechanics should follow comparable guidelines (control, presentation, execution, flow). Sadly, way too many people compare games nowadays, despite logic telling you that the existence of one game doesn't magically lower the quality of another one.

denis09

#23

denis09 said:

I'll rate this review a 1/10. It misses the point with this game completely.
This game takes the formula from the very popular (and critically acclaimed I might add) Lego games by TellTale, and adds girl-oriented themes..
I tried to like the other Lego games, and felt much like the reviewer, but then I gave this game to my daughter (7) and she played it hours on end and loved it..

I suspect that the reviewers opinion on this game should be taken as seriously as "Lord Oldandgrumpys" opinion on the Transformers movies.

GameGoddess32

#24

GameGoddess32 said:

@Dyl_73 I played the game,and I personally enjoyed it..the reviewer was right though about the long loading times between screens and the quests were repetitive after awhile..I'm an adult and I enjoy playing with the LEGO Friends sets,and I was kinda hoping for similar enjoyment playing this game..it WAS enjoyable,but it was WAY too short IMO..I think little girls will like this game,but because it's so short and the load screens are long,I don't think they'll spend much time on it..honestly,I was kind of hoping for a LEGO game for girls with more,um,substance..it's not shallow like the Bratz games were,but it felt a little "dumbed down" at times..children are alot smarter than some people give them credit for..I love the Style Savvy games,but even they feel a bit "dumbed down"..I'd like to know what it is with developers that think games for girls should be diluted..but I liked this game WAY more than LEGO Marvel Super Heroes..that game could have been good,but it felt like it was just shoved together..

GameGoddess32

#25

GameGoddess32 said:

@Kaze_Memaryu True...I didn't expect this game to be just like the other LEGO games(that would have made it a terrible game IMO) but it was way too short,even for the target audience..I didn't expect to spend 40 hours on it either(that would have also made it a terrible game),I just wish it had had more substance..there's alot more they could have done with the game,like adding unlockable areas,a few more mini games(I kinda enjoyed the mini games),maybe some more unlockable outfits,or be able to make your own outfits..I wasn't completely disappointed in this game,but I wasn't completely satisfied either..and I personally don't think this game is shovelware like another commenter said,that's just unfair..it's not a game for everybody obviously..there are lots of games I didn't like but that doesn't make them shovelware..

GameGoddess32

#26

GameGoddess32 said:

@ningeek185 Uh,some people do..I'm sure there are lots of little girls who do..I played this game all the way to the end,did you?I don't think you should say something like that unless you have played the game through or at the very least played a little of it..that's your opinion and you're entitled to it,but please don't state it as fact..next time maybe put "IMO" or "in my opinion"..

Kaze_Memaryu

#27

Kaze_Memaryu said:

@GameGoddess32 Nah, Shovelware is a whole other level of bad. As I said (and Lee Meyer implied in the review), this game was made with good intentions, but lacked either money or personell to realize these intentions.
LEGO Friends is already a well-established LEGO brand, so this is simply one of many underwhelming license games.
Shovelware is just garbage from unknown (or sometimes even infamous) developers who obviously didn't care about the product or even the consumer base and just try to grab some money on uninformed parents and rich/greedy kids.

GameGoddess32

#28

GameGoddess32 said:

@Kaze_Memaryu Yeah,that's true..I too feel that this game was made with good intentions,but it just fell short in alot of ways..honestly,I was personally looking forward to this game..I came to enjoy the LEGO Friends toys after I played with my cousin and her toys..and,my physical therapist said they'd be good for exercising my hands..I was hoping it would be a cute fun game(which it was) that would highlight how much fun the toys can be..it COULD have been,but to me the game felt rushed in alot of areas..I loved LEGO as a kid,and I love the other LEGO games(except for LEGO Marvel Super Heroes,I was personally disappointed in that game),but I was disappointed with this game only because it wasn't as good as I felt it could be..games for girls shouldn't be "dumbed down" or simplistic..I really wish the developers would see that..maybe they'll make another LEGO Friends game with those things in mind..IMO that series has alot of good ideas in it for a video game :)

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