By the early 90s, comic books and nerd culture had already been accepted as a medium that was consumed by both children and adults equally and without shame or vilification. It was over the next two decades that comic books, science-fiction, video games, and other mediums and genres began to hit the mainstream and contained less of a stigma than they ever had. Thus, the desire to create content based on these universes that was both appealing for younger audiences while still maintaining a tone that was acceptable for adults grew exponentially. It is this type of creative direction that makes up the allure of Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO video game franchise – a franchise that revels in toning down largely mature content to cater to children’s sensibilities while still retaining that maturity.
Traveller’s Tales has a long resume of LEGO titles that include franchises such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Carribean, and more recently Batman (along with other DC Comics superheroes), Lord of the Rings, and Marvel Comics superheroes. The developer took the inside-jokes and subtle humor of the previous LEGO games and expanded on it by adding real dialogue – in lieu of odd facial expressions and grunts that were prevalent in games prior to LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. It was in my review of LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes that I acknowledged this change as one of the defining characteristics of not just the game, but of the genre that Traveller’s Tales had essentially created. The use of dialogue catapulted the franchise of LEGO games from the status of silent filmesque recreations of popular characters to legitimate vessels of comedy and satire, capable of delivering fully-formed playful and light-hearted stories, in addition to being fully able to cater to the audience that would understand the more mature humor. I have not yet played this year’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, but from what I hear, its quality is on the same levels.
That being said, there are a few franchise that lend themselves perfectly to Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO formula. With the pattern that the developer has established of adapting the two most popular comic book publishers – Marvel and DC – it is my opinion that they should compliment their history of Star Wars titles with a Star Trek adaptation. The logical choice. Star Trek: The Original Series lends itself naturally to the themes and style in which LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes and Lego Marvel Super Heroes have been constructed.
The Original Series is as timeless as it is obsolesced. The series is ripe with characters, themes, aliens, and an atmosphere that is ripe for multiple types of portrayal in video game-form. The series ran from 1967 to 1969, and also had six films that produced between 1979 and 1992. Due to its long life across three decades, and the different interpretations of all the different characters and aliens, Star Trek: The Original Series has a plethora of content that can be adapted for a video game with a lot of wiggle room to fit in both campy and mature humor.
The game could easily feature Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Chekov, and Sulu as playable characters similar to LEGO Lord of the Rings‘ extensive selection of characters at the outset, with added bonus characters from the TOS universe. Gameplay could be modeled after space and ground combat in the same right as LEGO Batman 2‘s ground and vehicle-based combat. The groundwork is already laid. The story itself could be based on any of the memorable episodes from the show’s three seasons, or expanded upon stories from other sources such as the comic book, graphic novel, or written novel series; it could even be an original story entirely.
Episodes like “The Cage,” “Balance of Terror,” “Arena,” “Errand of Mercy,” “Mirror, Mirror,” “The Trouble with Tribbles,” and “The Tholian Web,” all introduced races and characters that became staples of the Star Trek universe, including the Talosians, Romulans, Gorn, Klingons, Mirror Universe, Tribbles, and Tholians, respectively. All of these villains have had longstanding effects on both the Star Trek franchise and even pop culture in general. These episodes are the perfect source material. The Klingons and Romulans appeared as major supporting characters throughout the entire run of the The Original Series and its spin-offs. The Tholians and Gorn were not used in any live-action form outside of The Original Series, but were mentioned in Deep Space Nine and have become major antagonists in Cryptic’s MMO, Star Trek Online. The Mirror Universe also appeared in the aforementioned game in addition to having an elongated arc throughout five of Deep Space Nine‘s seven seasons.
“Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “Space Seed,” and “Whom Gods Destroy” all added memorable villains such as Gary Mitchell, Khan, and Garth, respectively. These characters are special because they are specifically synonymous with the series specifically, and could work as antagonists throughout the game. An original story could easily work with Gary Mitchell and/or Khan as the primary antagonist throughout, with an appearance by Garth.
Other notable episodes include “The Man Trap,” “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” “Amok Time,” “The Doomsday Machine,” “The Gamesters of Triskelion,” “The Enterprise Incident,” and “Day of the Dove;”. “Amok Time” is the source of the infamous – and often parodied – fight between Captain Kirk and Commander Spock. “The Doomsday Machine” is one of the more action-heavy episodes in which the Enterprise takes on a monster by which the episode is named after, and was noted for being James Doohan’s (Scotty) favorite episode. “The Enterprise Incident” and “Day of the Dove” are notable for their involvements of Romulans and Klingons, respectively, and were two of the best episodes of The Original Series‘ third season, which was arguably the worst.
Of course, this all seems impossible unless LEGO can wrangle the Star Trek license away from Kre-O (the company currently designing brick sets based on the recent awful reboot films, Star Trek and Star Trek into Darkness). In the mean-time, I will simply have to fantasize – it has been such a long time since we have had a good Star Trek-related game (Star Trek Online does come close though).