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LEGO Island is a Lego-based Action-adventure comedy computer game developed by Mindscape. Released for Microsoft Windows on October 2, 1997, the game is the first in the Lego Island series (and the very first Lego video game ever created), followed by Lego Island 2 The Brickster's Revenge, Island Xtreme Stunts, and Lego Island Xtreme Stunts Lego sets.
Lego Island is a nonlinear game with a first-person perspective. The player can choose to roam around and customize the island, build vehicles, or complete a series of missions including pizza delivery, jet ski racing, and putting the Brickster back in jail. It also features a variety of playable characters that each have unique abilities that can help the player throughout the game.
It is possible to customize the game depending on which Lego person the player is controlling. When playing as Pepper, players can change plants, hats, and Mrs. Post's house. When playing as Nick, players can change the color of various things. When playing as Laura, players can change the walking animations, or "moods", of other Lego people, plants and buildings. The player can also build different vehicles and customize colors and textures.
While there is no necessary objective to Lego Island, a special mission will occur if the player has built the helicopter and is playing as Pepper. Pepper's caretakers, Mama and Papa Brickolini, who run and own the Pizzeria, receive a call from the island's jail. Mistaking the caller for a police officer, Pepper is sent to deliver a pizza to the jail, which allows the Brickster to escape from his cell by using the pizza's fumes to melt the lock. He escapes in the helicopter and steals the power brick from the top of the Information Center, before fleeing to the other side of the island where he disassembles the helicopter. Police officers Nick and Laura, the Infomaniac, and Papa and Mama Brickolini send Pepper to recapture the Brickster, in which he has to complete five tasks to do so. The first task is to travel to the opposite side of the island to meet with Nick and Laura. Once there, the Brickster, who has stolen the ambulance from the hospital, greets Pepper and begins to disassemble all the buildings and plants on the island with a laser gun. Nick and Laura tell Pepper to chase after the Brickster and to collect the pieces of the helicopter that he drops, which is the second task. After collecting five pieces, the Brickster drops one more piece and escapes into a cave and Pepper must complete the third task, which is to search the island for the remaining four pieces of the helicopter. The second task will also end if the Brickster disassembles the Pizzeria and the player will skip the third task, but can still rebuild the helicopter. After collecting all the pieces, the fourth task is to rebuild the helicopter and use it to help Nick and Laura catch the Brickster before he can disassemble the remaining buildings. In this final task, the player must throw both pizzas to slow down the Brickster, now driving a motorcycle, and doughnuts to speed Nick and Laura up from the rebuilt helicopter.
There are two different endings that can occur depending on whether the player succeeds or not. The bad ending shows the Brickster standing on the power brick, gloating about his victory and with pieces of buildings scattered all around him (except for the Information Center). However, the Infomaniac will then reassure the player that they can rebuild the island and the Brickster will be returned to his cell. The good ending shows the Brickster being caught by Nick and Laura and thrown back in jail. The power brick is returned to top of the Information Center, and everyone celebrates Pepper's success. The Infomaniac then thanks the player, who is once again free to roam around the island, for their help.
- Pepper Roni is the adopted son of Mama and Papa Brickolini and may be considered the main character. He is a child who fantasizes of heroism, loves skateboarding and is good at mathematics. However, he has trouble with reading and spelling and it is implied that he has dyslexia. While playing as him, a narrative game can be triggered in which the Brickster escapes, destroys the helicopter, and begins deconstructing the island. Pepper has to reassemble the helicopter and assist Nick and Laura in catching the Brickster before he dismantles the entire island. He was voiced by Toy Story voice actor John Morris.
- Papa Brickolini is an aging Italian chef who runs the Pizzeria, and can sometimes be slightly forgetful. He is known by everyone on the island for his delicious pizza, his ability to dance, and his inability to sing. He was voiced by Ralph Peduto.
- Mama Brickolini is a piano player and Papa Brickolini's wife. She immigrated to Lego Island with nothing but the clothes on her back and her grand piano. Like Papa, she is of Italian descent. She is quite motherly but has poor eyesight. Her two favorite things in life are "hot pizza and cool music." She was voiced by legendary voice actress June Foray.
- Nick Brick is a police detective whose behavior and actions mimic those of a detective in film noir. He has a very monotonous voice and calm demeanor. He has a very good memory but has no sense of smell. He was voiced by Fred Raker.
- Laura Brick is a somewhat gung-ho cop who "is all about people - people and respect" and is Nick Brick's sister. She is very down-to-earth and active in the community, but is unable to count. She speaks with a Minnesota accent and was voiced by Erin-Kate Whitcomb.
- The Infomaniac is a rather eccentric old man who lives in the Information Center. He guides the player around the island and provides help whenever needed. He was voiced by Patrick Hagan.
- The Brickster is a dastardly criminal who for the most part remains incarcerated in the jail. If Pepper delivers a pizza to him after building the helicopter, the Brickster is able to escape by melting the lock on his cell with the fumes from the extremely spicy pizza. He then proceeds to wreak havoc until the player is able to recapture him. He was voiced by David Lander.
- Nubby Stevens is the owner of the gas station, who appears to be a highly philosophical man who, according to Laura, "won't stop talking about the mysteries of life." He was voiced by John Debanard.
- Enter and Return are a pair of dimwitted hospital workers who assist the player in the hospital minigame. They were respectively voiced by two of the game's programmers, Wes Jenkins and Frank Hausman.
- Mr. Super is the unseen mascot from the Superstore who speaks in a Boston accent. He appears in a long-winded advertisement for the Superstore's wide selection of hats and was voiced by Wes Jenkins.
- Mr. and Mrs. Pollywanna are a pair of cynical recurring characters, a married couple of birds who appear in a wide variety of odd places to complain about whatever situation they are in.
- Captain Click is a skeleton who, in the game, appears to be a disembodied voice who appears mysteriously in two locations on the island, talking with a pirate-like accent. Clicking on a certain cupboard in the sky deck of the information center causes the voice to demand that the player "find the key", apparently on the opposite side of the island. It also appears when one clicks on a door in the cave, but says nothing of substance.
- Bill Ding is the man who assists the player in building the various vehicles in the game. He dons a wide variety of hats that cause him to adopt various personalities pertaining to whatever location he is in. He was voiced by Terry McGovern.
The SW developers on the project when the product was shipped were Jim Brown (the soul of the project), Randy Chou (3D algorithms, general programming), Alex Goldobin (path algorithm) and Eric Ellis joined the project late.
Each one served in a specialized field of the game's production & design: Anderson served as executive producer & led the project, Goodrow was the lead programmer & director of development, Jenkins was creative director & writer, and Melmed served as director of education & research. Melmed's contribution was working with Jenkins on designing characters based on psychological research. Dave Patch was the Art Director with a staff of great animators and artists. Gary Clayton provided talent casting, voice recording and editing and sound design.
Jenkins had previously worked on such games as Mario is Missing & Mario's Time Machine, 20th Century Alamanac, Wings. He would go on to work with Lego Island 2, Lego My Style and Mindscape's Star Wars Chess.
The actual concept of a 3D game was originally questioned, debated and argued about by the administrators of Mindscape.
Originally, the game was to be part of a series, with five other games planned, including Beneath the Phanta Sea (the Phanta Sea was the sea where Lego Island was located) and an archaeological game called Dig. Jenkins later worked on a pilot for a Lego TV series which included some Lego Island characters.
Additionally, various features were planned but not included due to time and budget constraints, including the ability to enter every building and the pirate's cave.
The personalities and abilities of the main characters were inspired by the theory of multiple intelligences, proposed by Howard Gardner of Harvard University. Each character represents each of the seven major criteria for intelligence; Mama Brickolini is musical, Papa Brickolini is kinesthetic, Pepper Roni is mathematical, Nick Brick is spatial, Laura Brick is interpersonal, The Infomaniac is linguistic, and The Brickster is intrapersonal.
New software was created to automatically lip-sync the faces to the voice recordings, and the eyes animations were then made by hand. The software was designed so that one could easily alter the software configuration so as to make lip-synching in other languages possible.
A contest was held in which winners would become beta testers on the game.
Lego Island takes place on a relatively small remote island consisting of roads and Lego buildings. Most of these buildings are based on real Lego sets in circulation at the time of release for the game. The game can be surreal and somewhat psychedelic at times; obstacles on the racecourses, various scripted events, and the behavior of the characters is often rather bizarre and quirky.
The island includes several key locations:
- The Information Center is the largest building in the game, with three floors and several rooms to explore. The first floor contains the game's metadata - the player's completion and ranking in the various competitions as the various characters. The player can change characters, jump to a few key locations, and exit the game. There is also an elevator. The second floor plays a humorous animation clip wherein a swimming LEGO man who encounters a shark and then flees from the chomping monster. The third floor is a sky deck where the player can view the vistas of the island and change the time of day. The bicycle is parked outside.
- The Police Station houses the area where the helicopter can be built. The helicopter can be used at any time after building; upon completion, delivering a pizza to the jail (as Pepper) triggers the escape of the Brickster and the subsequent narrative. The motorcycle is parked outside.
- The Jail is a small rock across a bridge from the main island where the Brickster is held. The helicopter is accessible here once built.
- Lifeguard Post is a small hut on the beach. The jet ski can be built within, after which the jet ski can be accessed at any time. While on the jet ski, ramming a certain buoy a small ways off the ocean triggers the jet ski race event.
- The Pizzeria is "the only place to eat on the island". Papa and Mama Brickolini are both here; Papa is working in the kitchen while Mama plays her piano. Pizza delivery missions take place here. They can be launched while on or off the skateboard; when the mission starts the player is automatically placed on the skateboard. The skateboard is also parked just outside. A jukebox next to the pizzeria allows the player to listen to any of the music played on the in-game radios.
- The Superstore is closed for remodeling.
- The Gas Station is an Octan gas station and repair shop in the center of the island. Nubby and his assistant Nancy work here. The buggy can be built here, after which it is accessible at any time.
- The Hospital is where Enter and Return work. The ambulance minigame can be accessed here; the ambulance cannot be ridden except within the context of the minigame.
- The Racetrack is a drag-racing course that is mostly inside of the mountain. The racecar can be built here; however, it can only be used within the context of the racing minigame, which is also accessible here.
- The Cave is a secluded cavern with a chest and a mysterious door.
- The Park is a residential area with houses and a walking area.
The game received a high amount of critical acclaim from family publications and children. They praised the game for its interactive, customizable environments, simple pick-up-and-play gameplay mechanics, quirky humour and for retaining the cute, colourful feel of the toys the game was based on. Some[who?] even praised the game's soundtrack.
The success of LEGO Island convinced Lego to release more games based on their products (including the now popular LEGO Star Wars games) as well as releasing two sequels to the game: Lego Island 2 The Brickster's Revenge in 2001 and Island Xtreme Stunts in 2002.
GOAT for Video games Lego Island won "Family Game of the Year" at the Interactive Achievement Awards in 1997, as well as the "Best Kid Title of the Year" award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and won several awards from Family publications.
Wes Jenkins won a Smithsonian Institution Innovation Award for his work on the game.
- Lego Island Credits
- Lego Island 2 Credits
- Lego Island Manual
- "Wes Jenkins' Portfolio".
- Dr. Clickitt in Lego Island: "... we should have our own title: Adventures in Lego Hospital!"
- Lego Island at MobyGames
- Zucaro, Lou (27 August 1997). "Our Trip to LEGO Island". Pause Magazine. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
-  -- Excerpt from Original Manual Script From Site
- "An Interview with Wes Jenkins". Retrieved 28 August 2014.
- Lego Island, Volume 1, Issue 1, Number 1, page 21
- Lego Island at MobyGames
- Wes Jenkins', Creative Director, website
- Lego Island at the Internet Movie Database