I’ve got a real soft spot for Lego. The interlocking plastic bricks and personality-laden mini-figurines (known more commonly as minifigs) reveal a wonderful world of play and construction that’s limited only by your imagination and your supply of parts.
It’s for this reason that I’m always on the lookout for new Lego video games. Travellers Tales’s narrative-driven movie license tie-ins are always a delight to play, but they only show one side of Lego’s appeal. The recently-released Lego City Rapid Rescue provides a more traditional, more grounded kind of roleplay that’s as fun as it is simple.
Those minifigs aren’t the greatest swimmers; you need to guide Lego City Coast Guard to marooned holiday makers, collecting bricks along the way and saving everyone as quickly as possible. You do this by drawing lines from the Coast Guard vehicles, taking care not to steer them into sharks, islands, or other obstacles.
Development clearly came too late for Sharknado references.
If a rescue vehicle hits something, it bounces off and stops its journey — meaning that you’ll have to redraw a path — so it’s best to get it right the first time. In terms of pure accessibility, Rapid Rescue is incredibly simple, but if you want three stars on each level you’ll have to be smart in your strategies and careful with your line drawing.
Most levels involve more than one Coast Guard vehicle. Usually this just means multiple ways to collect all the stranded minifigs in short time, whereby you split the load between vehicles, but sometimes the level design is more imaginative. Sonar remotes lower submarines while a boat or jet ski sits on them, leading to situations where you must coordinate movements between vehicles.
Ocean currents, rocks, and whirlpools also bar the way or force your hand in one direction or another, especially in later levels, while sharks disappear underwater when you tap on them. That’s about it for the core game, which recycles its concepts and formulas throughout the 48 levels — gradually increasing the complexity, and consequently the difficulty, as you go.
It gets pretty hairy at times, but never genuinely difficult.
The most creative levels require a fair amount of forethought and planning to conquer, such as one toward the end that requires you to identify a pattern in how the whirlpools push you around, or another that involves coordinating three vehicles’ movements simultaneously. You don’t seem to be able to literally trace two paths at once, however — touching the screen with a second finger had no effect for me — so you’ll have to work around this with quick hands or a lot of patience.
This is all presented in typically light-hearted fashion. An enthusiastic “hey!” at the end of every level and a quick horn hoot on loading screens really sets the tone, priming you for upbeat, simple fun. Rapid Rescue lacks the attention to detail of major Lego games like the Lego Batman series, but it has much of the same subtle charm.
And it ekes its way into every crevice of the design, from the look of menus to the audio to graphics and especially the delightful celebration pictures when you complete the final rescue on a level — which shows a rescuer waving to the waylaid minifig treading not-so-calm waters.
Celebrate Good Times
Everything you do feels like a celebration, and the fact that it’s extremely easy may never cross your mind. This is true all ages fun, wherein younger kids can just enjoy the core goals and colorful visuals while older ones can push to collect all the bricks, earn every star, and unlock every achievement.
If you’re a Lego Club member, you can also play around with cheats — I’m sorry to say that I’m not sure what these are, but I expect they’re cool and possibly also useful or fun.
There’s not much to fault Lego City Rapid Rescue on. It’s fun, it fits the Lego mould, it’s accessible to the young’uns, and it’s technically sound. I’d love to see more levels, though, and especially some sort of level editor for a touch of old-fashioned Lego-infused creating. It’ll keep you entertained for a few hours, and it’ll transport you back to the carefree days of playing with the real stuff — or tide you over while you’re away from it.