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North American cover art of Lego Island
Lego Island is a Lego-based action-adventure video game developed and published by Mindscape. Released for Microsoft Windows on October 2, 1997, the game is the first in the Lego Island series, and the first Lego video game overall, followed by Lego Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge, Island Xtreme Stunts and respective Lego sets.
Lego Island is a nonlinear video 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 catching an escaped prisoner. It also features a variety of playable characters which 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, which requires the completion of five tasks.
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. 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 pizzas to slow down the Brickster, now driving a motorcycle, and doughnuts, to speed Nick and Laura up from the rebuilt helicopter.
Two different endings can occur, depending on whether the player succeeds. The bad ending shows the Brickster standing on the power brick, gloating about his victory with pieces of buildings scattered all around him (except for the Information Center). However, the Infomaniac then reassures 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.
Lego Island was co-created by Scott Anderson, Dennis Goodrow, Wes Jenkins, Paul J. Melmed, and Dave Patch.
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.
Gary Clayton provided the sound design, voice recording and score. Post-production was done at Russian Hill Recording in San Francisco.
Each one served in a specialized field of the game's production and design: Anderson served as executive producer and led the project, Goodrow was the lead programmer and director of development, Jenkins was creative director and writer, and Melmed served as director of education and 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, and Wings. He would go on to work with Lego Island 2, Lego My Style and Mindscape's Star Wars Chess.
The original title was to be "Adventures on Lego Island"; evidence of this still exists in the game.
When they began, technology was so limited that they considered making the game with a custom 3D engine, which was used in several id Software titles of the day. In the end, DirectX was chosen.
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 (this 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.A theory as to the other NPCs is that Nubby Stevens is existential, mainly due to the questions he ask about the mysteries of life, and the birds Mr. and Mrs. Pollywanna are naturalistic, as they complain about the oddities that happen in the city.
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.
The game received critical acclaim from family publications and children. They praised the game for its interactive, customizable environments, simple pick-up-and-play gameplay mechanics, and 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.
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. It won several awards from family publications, including Family PC's top-rated virtual toy award, Family Life's "Critic's Choice" award and Home PC's kid testers' "Reviewer's Choice" stamp of approval.
Wes Jenkins won a Smithsonian Institution Innovation Award for his work on the game.