By Jeff Mitchell
It’s been years since I played this game. I’m pretty sure this is actually the first video game my eager, tiny kid hands ever enabled me to play. I thought a bit about what it was like to play this back when I was four and drew a blank. Thus, I resorted to watching a play-through to jog my memory.
Like a lethal avalanche of absurdity, memories of good times shared between me, a massive desktop computer and enthusiastic “dude with the food,” Pepper Roni, swept over me immediately. Inundated, as I’ve found myself, in nostalgia and confusion, I feel it’s only right I write about it.
Many children of the 90’s recall with glee their formative years spent interacting with low-fi pixels rendered in a whopping, “cutting edge” 256 colors. Most geeky children of the era can easily recount the ways in which we held television antennae for improved signal and wobbled cords behind the TV to get the Nintendo 64 screen to magically appear.
Only us lucky few, however, can clearly remember our bizarre, first-person adventures on Lego Island as Pepper – skating, biking, jet-skiing and flying around for no apparent reason other than to prove we could. This flippant review of Lego Island dredges up such memories to haunt our minds once more.
The Crazy Concierge
How could I possibly forget the self-destructive, cartoonish antics of the game’s unofficial host and information man. He greets us at the game’s start – beckoning us into his world of insanity and corporeal destruction.
I do believe he ripped off his own arm about eight times within the first three minutes of the game. Clearly, the designers were going for a wacky personality, but, looking at this bizarre little man now, I feel they may have jumped the shark.
“Le – Le – Le – Lego!”
Just after being introduced to the game by the nutty info guy, we’re tossed into the tiny world of Lego Island to engage in hours of mindless fun for fun’s sake. A single suggestion is made to us, though: talk to the pizza people.
These pizza people are our bosses apparently, and perhaps even our family. Of course, we’re reading too far into all this. Upon accepting our pizza delivery “mission” (a job a boy named Pepper Roni was clearly born to do) we’re allowed to roam free. This brings us to the soundtrack…
Few soundtracks qualify as utter wackiness quite like this one does. The minute you mount the skateboard for the first time, you know you’re in for a wild ride. A stuttering chorus of “Lego” reminds you of what game you’re playing, lest you somehow forget. The intermittent scream of a dying man reminds you of your meager, human mortality. At least, I think that’s what it’s for. Rumor has it the scream in question was actually ripped straight out of a certain Star Wars film (someone named Luke?). Intriguing…
There are plenty of other songs in this simple game as well, though. From smooth Jazz to some hodge-podge, hectic ‘Misirlou’ rip-off, Lego Island has it all.
One song, in particular, was mighty entertaining to hear again: the borderline inappropriate ‘Brick by Brick’ by Kathleen Enright. Multiple listens reveal nothing particularly offensive in the lyrics. However, it’s hard to ignore the semblance certain lines bear to “Brick by Brick, Suck my T!t” or “Papa told Mama and Laura holds D*%k.”
Thankfully, Kathleen, that classy gal, is actually singing “Brick by Brick, Tock by Tick” and “Papa told Mama and Laura told Nick.” Clean family fun.
Criminals, Cars and Helicopters (oh my!)
Although the game has little to no plot to speak of, there are hints at one by way of our dealings with the incarcerated “Brickster;” a criminal so vile, they placed his solitary cell right by the helipad. Yeah, not the best idea, for sure. I’m pretty sure he ends up with his own helicopter at some point, but I’ve no idea how.
I’m not quite sure I ever actually ‘beat’ the game. At my young age, I was mostly content to bike, drive and board my way around the island like a lunatic. It’s a good thing there were no apparent traffic laws there, as I’d likely have ended up sharing cell-space with Mr. Brickster himself. My driving skills were atrocious, as is to be expected of anyone playing a first-person Lego game from ’97 with a mouse and keyboard. If your driving’s not atrocious in this game, you’ve been playing too long.
A Surprisingly Important Part of My Childhood
It’s true! This ridiculous, weird and bizarre game serves as the virtual launch-pad for the debilitating video game obsession I suffered in following years. Also, to this day, my love affair with pizza lives on.
Could Pepper Roni and his almost offensively Italian parents/bosses be responsible for this mayhem I continue to call life? Deep in the dark recesses of my mind hide the founding Lego bricks of my reality, and the Brickster. Don’t forget the Brickster.