First, Lincoln Logs appeared, interlocking bits of wood for building simple log structures. Next, the Erector Set, an industrial age toy that brought the ability to create more diverse mechanisms, but at the cost of greater complexity.
Then, LEGO arrived, offering a compromise between the two — simplicity and diversity in one. The rest, as they say, is architectural toy history.
Actually, many more construction sets existed (Kenner Girder and Panel, for one), but the above trio are the best-known and most-loved, especially LEGO. In fact, it was inevitable that LEGO-based games would eventually reach the PC — LEGO Chess, LEGOLAND and, one of the most popular, LEGO Star Wars. Add LEGO Fever to the mix.
What’s the gist? Well, it’s your task to help Harry and Jens, the LEGO brothers, bring color and imagination to the lives of the grey people and their mind-numbingly dreary world. How? Through the use of vibrant LEGO bricks to build bridges, walls, staircases and more.
LEGO Fever offers Story and Fever game modes, playable across 112 entertaining levels of brick building, climbing and matching. Divided into multiple stages, the action spans five worlds — Castle, Downtown, Dockyard, Suburbs and Shopping Mall — and takes you, via Story Mode, from start to finish one level at a time. Fever, meanwhile, lets you play any level you’ve already completed.
Action switches continually between Puzzle, Chase and Clump play. On Puzzle and Chase levels, you seek to free the grey people from their drab existence. Puzzle levels have no time element, but require that you, as Jens, rescue the dull individuals using a limited amount of bricks. An expert score is achieved by completing the task in a specified number of moves or less.
In Chase levels, you help Harry color the world while freeing a predefined number of “greys.” Brick Energy is used to spawn the bricks required, while freeing extra inhabitants earns you an expert score. But, don’t turn around or the grey returns. Plus, limited Brick Energy must be replenished by grabbing energy pellets along the way.
Clump, a timed mode, has you stacking LEGO blocks by color to make matches of three-or-more bricks. When you do, they vanish and help replenish Harry’s Brick Energy. The more bricks included, the bigger the score and greater the energy. Reach Normal on the fill meter before time runs out and you pass the level. Fill it to the top and you earn an expert rating.
Bricks are positioned using the left mouse button, guiding the LEGO Brothers toward their goal. Colored bricks can be placed anywhere as long as they engage another brick, but black and grey bricks remain stationary. The same is true for those covered by a hazard or on which a LEGO brother is standing. Grey ones, however, can be eliminated with special power-ups.
Power-ups, referred to as “Recipes,” include the Jump Brick, Fan Brick, Pickaxe, Shield, Trap, Brick Bomb, Color Bomb and Time Machine. Jump Bricks act as catapults to launch the LEGO Brothers over obstacles, while Fan Bricks “blow” them upward until they reach an obstacle. The Pickaxe breaks through walls, the Shield offers temporary invincibility, Traps catch enemies, the Brick Bomb and Color Bombs vaporize bricks, and the Time Machine adds seconds to the clock.
Of course, LEGO Fever has obstacles and most are ink related — Ink Spills, Ink Drippers, Ink Sprayers, and Ink Jets (no, not printers), as examples. This multitude of hazards turn Harry and Jens a grimacing grey when covered by their depressing black goop, and stop them in their tracks. Some people encountered also act as impediments, specifically Security Guards who pursue the Brothers when spotted and Captains who actually hunt them down.
LEGO Fever is challenging and addictive. In some regards, it feels like you’re playing a Saturday morning cartoon. Its design is well thought out, integrating puzzle and time elements in a fun and entertaining way. Graphics and audio are austere, but work with the blockish LEGO look. Simple yet highly entertaining, some puzzles are quite brain straining to solve for an expert score. Overall, it’s good, clean family fun.
The only pieces that don’t fit together as they should are brick manipulation and overall theme. First, it’s too easy to mistakenly squander a turn in Puzzle levels and waste time in Chase and Clump levels by unintentionally picking up and/or dropping a brick, grabbing the wrong one or “losing your grip.” This could have been avoided, somewhat, by using the left mouse button to pick a brick up and the right one to place it. As for the theme, some will inadvertently be put off by the LEGO brand, but they shouldn’t. It’s actually a game for grown ups more so than kids.
If things have become a bit dull and boring, don’t let the monotonous grey days give you the blues. Download LEGO Fever and add some color to your life. You don’t need to be an aficionado of colored bricks to enjoy this frantic puzzler.