Back in the day, handheld platforms were where you took a new LEGO game and hacked it to be bits in order to make it fit. From missing multiplayer modes and chopped-down level sizes to outright performance issues, it felt like you were getting punished for daring to smash Danish bricks anywhere other than a home console or a PC. Nowadays, with Nintendo Switch serving as a home for multiplatform releases, indie sleeper hits and classic re-releases, every new LEGO game can now get its due in handheld form. And the same goes for plenty of the old ones, so, of course, we’re getting LEGO Jurassic World on a new platform.
First released in the summer of 2015 in order to coincide with the release of the film of the same name, LEGO Jurassic World is one of those LEGO games that really gets the source material it's based on. For players of a certain age, memories of seeing the first two Jurassic Park films (let’s not talk about the third one) will likely define their childhood cinematic memories. For younger players, Jurassic World and its sequel might be there first foray into fictional dinosaurs. Either way, developer TT Fusion takes all the things that made those films to memorable (great characters, iconic moments and all the Goldblum you could ask for) and infuses them into the modern LEGO mould.
While not fully open-world in the format embraced by LEGO City: Undercover or LEGO The Incredibles, LEGO Jurassic World still makes fine use of the instantly familiar locations from the franchise’s 25-plus year history. You can explore both Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna, with the parks of old and new serving as hubs for the more traditional siloed levels of old. And while separate they may be, TT Fusion has been careful to balance out the linearity by stitching many of them together with more open-ended hubs (such as the area you explore in the gyrosphere while the Indominus Rex causes mayhem throughout Jurassic World). These hub designs aren’t perfect though, and even now, four years after playing it the first time, we still get lost trying to find the entrance to a new chapter.
LEGO Jurassic World was also a bit of a departure for the series, offering more of a focus on puzzle-solving and exploration than throwing a never-ending font of enemies to punch into pieces. Character-specific skills are now less about offensive abilities, and more around passive actions such as digging up fossils to reveal missing pieces, growing plants for reaching elevated platforms and much more. There’s still a need to throw hands (or claws) with your prehistoric friends, but the lack of mindless battles makes some of these set-pieces (such as the showdown between the T-rex and the I-rex in Jurassic World) far more memorable as a result.
As you’d expect for a game that uses four films as its basis, there’s a lot of content to get through here. It’s a shame no effort was made to produce a tie-in to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, but then again, TT Games never did get around to releasing the Battle of the Five Armies DLC for LEGO The Hobbit, so it’s hardly an out-of-character decision. Still, while it’s slightly out of date in terms of franchise parity, there’s still plenty to like here. The dinosaur creator, for instance, is a cute little feature that ties into its DNA-splicing lore. With 20 different species of dino in the game, you can mix and match parts from each one to create your own silly hybrids as you progressively unlock new creatures.
So what are Nintendo Switch adopters getting that makes this port stand out? Well, apart from being able to play it on a portable platform again, you’re getting the exact same game that appeared on Wii U and most other platforms in 2015. The benefit of arriving four years after the fact is the inclusion of all the DLC that was released following its initial release. So alongside the main game, you’re getting the Jurassic World DLC Pack and the two Jurassic Park Trilogy DLC Packs 1 & 2.
Collectively, you’re getting four new vehicles and 12 additional characters, because the one thing a LEGO game needs is more minifigs. There are some noticeable fuzzy and blurry textures that are hard to miss – even playing in handheld mode – but we didn’t encounter any slowdown during our review playthrough. Cut-scenes have taken a knock in quality, and can occasionally stutter, but it's not a significant issue that impacts play. Overall, it's a decent port.
While LEGO Jurassic World does nothing particularly ‘new’ or exciting to distinguish itself from other platforms (other than being portable, which it pulled off three years ago on PS Vita anyway), it’s impossible to not be swept up by its charming recreation of the Jurassic saga. With a greater focus on puzzle-solving than combat, even the youngest of players will find it a safe and engaging place to muck around with Danish bricks. Much like every other LEGO release, its relevance to you comes down to your connection to the franchise, but if you have a penchant for clever girls and staying out of the long grass (and you haven't played it already), this port is bound to sink its claws into you.