As Traveller's Tales discovered when it released LEGO Star Wars in 2005, nostalgia can be a powerful thing. Not only did those games capitalise on the immense popularity of the two brands, they contained enough charm, humour and entertaining gameplay to guarantee critical acclaim and huge sales.
And now it has left the Star Wars universe behind, the developer has turned to George Lucas's other classic film series, the Indiana Jones trilogy.
Some of the best moments in the LEGO Star Wars games were cutscenes re-enacting classic scenes, and these are back in abundance. Although the LEGO characters never speak, the scenes they act out are so familiar that dialogue is not necessary, and the changes made to compensate result in playful satire.
Gameplay starts simple and grows more challenging, switching between combat, platforming and solving puzzles, and the controls are simple enough for anyone to master. Puzzles take advantage of the huge cast of characters - practically every significant figure from the original trilogy is playable and has their own skill or ability. The player has to consider how to use these traits - sometimes switching between different characters - in order to progress. For example, some puzzles require use of Indy's whip to trigger a switch, or the female characters' higher jumps, or Short Round's height to crawl through tunnels.
Completing the Story Mode is relatively straightforward, and there are dozens of unlockable artefacts, characters and secrets, resulting in a game that is both accessible and deep; it's a title that children can enjoy just as much as older players.
Combat is simple, using the Square button for attacks and requiring good timing. There are also many weapons to pick up along the way, such as spades, swords and guns. Items can also be collected and are vital in solving puzzles. For example, the spade allows you to dig up LEGO pieces in order to build bridges and important items; the spanner mends machines and vehicles; and the textbook enables you to translate hieroglyphics, unlocking secret doors.
The best way to enjoy LEGO Indiana Jones is co-operatively with a friend, with each player controlling one character. This feature is implemented brilliantly; to join the game the second player simply presses the START button on their controller during a single player game, and can then drop back out via the pause menu. This means that friends can come and go as they please, without the need to restart levels or have a separate save file.
Once a level has been completed in Story Mode it can be revisited in Free Play mode, allowing you to play with whichever characters you choose. This is essential if you want to unlock all of the game's secrets, as certain puzzles can only be solved using characters not normally associated with that particular level.
LEGO Indiana Jones has something for everyone; the gameplay is simple enough for children to enjoy, but with enough secrets so as not to be too easy for more experienced players. The game's greatest strength is its humour; the developer clearly knows its source material well, poking fun at classic scenes from the trilogy without cynicism. The visual style will appeal to younger players, while the combination of two iconic brands serves a double dose of nostalgia to older generations.
Like the films that inspired it, it's a game designed for the entire family to enjoy together.