After several speculative leaks we now know for certain that we'll be officially getting Lego The Incredibles from developer TT Games, and we actually spoke with Nick Parks from the studio about the project, and why now was the right time to dip into Pixar's franchise (which is getting its second instalment this year) and turn it into Lego form.
What do you see in The Incredibles that made it a good fit for TT's Lego series?
For us, what we always try and do when we start working with a new partner is try to think about what it is that's unique about that property and how do we distil that into Lego gameplay. For The Incredibles, it's such a perfect fit because all our games are aimed at young gamers and their families working together, and of course, that's exactly what The Incredibles is all about. The Incredibles is the Parr family who have all the trials and tribulations of a normal happy family - they just coincidentally happen to be superheroes as well. So we really wanted to drill down into that vibe of family teaming up together, because it just fits so well with our co-op gameplay. So you've got things like Dash and Violet obviously famously combining her psyonic sphere and Dash's amazing speed to able to run across water. And we've thought of different ways we can combine family members together and scattered that throughout the game so there's this idea of coming together and working together to fight crime; to stand as a team is really woven into the fabric of the whole game. And not just two family members, sometimes three, sometimes four family members all coming and connecting using their unique skills to survive together to overcome adversaries and [the] challenges we put in front of them.
What can you tell us about the story and its relation to the movies?
Lego Incredibles is coming out day and date with the new Incredibles movie, The Incredibles 2 from Disney Pixar. It's coming out this summer. It's fantastic, it's absolutely amazing, it's blown everyone's socks away here and it really has exceeded everyone's expectations. So it's been a real challenge for us to step up and make sure the game's as good as that. So the new film begins where the old one left off and that's really where we fit in. So you've got all the characters, all the locations from both films, all reimagined in Lego form as you'd expect from us. And on top of that, we have a huge open world hub environment which is crammed full of crime-fighting opportunities for you and your family to take on. So the cities and some of the locations from both films are both kinda of mashed into one. So you have new day/night cycles which is new for Lego games, so under cover of darkness more crimes can happen [...] You collect heroes which you unlock, you can fight crime together, as well as experience and then replay in Freeplay both Incredibles movies all in one game.
With Marvel and DC there are so many characters to choose from, but what's it like working with a more limited range?
It's been an immense privilege to be working with Pixar and when we went over there we were absolutely astounded by the amount of detail that they put into all of their films and all their characters. So - I don't know if you can remember in the first film - there is a whole suite of superheroes, or supers as they're called, that are barely even touched on. There are all the characters at Bob and Helen's wedding. There's all of the other supers which the omnidroids tried out and defeated before they eventually get to Mr Incredible. Each and every one of these heroes, there's dozens and dozens of heroes, have already been thoroughly fleshed out by Pixar, with the same kind of detail as Gazorbeam of Frozone or any of the other characters. They all have appearances, they all have sketches, they have mannerisms, characteristics, strengths and weakness. And so we went "great, we'll take all that!" And so there was a really good vibe because the designers at Pixar just loved the fact that their original creations from 14-15 years ago are now seeing new light, and we love the idea of creating all these amazing new heroes and bringing them to life. And that's just from the first film. Obviously [there's] all the characters and supers and villains from the new film. I'm afraid I can't tell you much but rest assured there's a massive variety and it leads to a really crammed-full character grid with loads of different cool characters and abilities.
Do you have a favourite character that you can tell us about?
Everyone has a favourite and that's Jack-Jack. There was the Jack-Jack short where we got to see some of his powers appearing, but of course there's a great running joke throughout the second film, the mum and dad - Bob and Helen - don't know that Jack has superpowers, because at the end of the first film when Helen is thrown up to attack Syndrome, obviously they can't see that Jack-Jack is turning into a huge ball of iron or a big kind of fiery monster, so there's all this kind of surprise. So Jack has all these powers, he can teleport, he can duplicate himself, he can do all kinds of crazy things. He's certainly been the most fun and the most enjoyable new character we have in Lego The Incredibles [...] One of my favourite scenes from the new film [is] when Jack-Jack's new abilities come to the fore. I can't tell you more than that as you'd imagine, but yeah, it's great, it's hilarious, and there's a whole level around it.
You've done a lot of superhero characters in Lego. This is almost like a Lego parody of a superhero parody, so has this created any interesting dilemmas?
Yeah, I know what you mean. A lot of the Lego games have had the most success when we are reimagining something which is, while fictional, still serious or still quite sombre in tone sometimes. I always remember, say, Alderaan being destroyed by the Death Star, something like that for example. When that's being done by a Lego Grand Moff Tarkin and a Lego Darth Vader, then yeah, that's actually hilarious. And in this regard you've already got something that's a little different, because they're already stylised and already kind of a parody, but I think where it works best is that you just need an affinity with the characters, and for them to be recognised and understood for it to work in Lego form. We know what Bob's strength and weaknesses are; he wants to do everything himself because he's super strong. But ultimately that's also his weakness, and he needs to rely on his family to get him out of trouble. It's the same with Helen. I think what Pixar has done in terms of how they're attributes match their characteristics is brilliant. So Helen as a mum obviously has to stretch and be different things to different people, and so again when she stretches herself, that's when we start to see her character flaws coming out and where she needs to learn and her character needs to grow, and that's really what we tap into with the humour, with the cutscenes. It's the affinity of the growing characters that we like to riff off and to play with. And of course mix that up with the slapstick, which is obviously in abundance in our games and in Pixar movies as well. I think it's an interesting question. It was an unexpected and somewhat tangential view that this is the first time we're making light of something that shouldn't, although fictional, but actually when we see the immense amount of work, time, and crafting Pixar put into creating an intricate story, we had loads of fun with it and it's still kind of a classic laugh out loud video game.
Now that you've begun dipping into Pixar's treasure chest of franchises, is there a favourite that you could see yourself turning into a Lego game in the future?
Well, I think it would be a bit difficult to think of anything past Lego The Incredibles. For me, I'm a dad myself, I've got a daughter and a son... so for me, this is an absolute perfect fit. We couldn't have asked for a better partner, they've been absolutely superb in terms of sharing all their resources with us. They've been great to work with. So in terms of a Pixar property we'd like to work with it has to be [The] Incredibles first and foremost, but I think it's safe to say that one thing that both TT and Pixar - if you can have our little company in the UK and Pixar in the same sentence - but one thing we both like is those kind of self-referential Easter eggs. So there might be a few surprises in there along the way.
You heard it here first, expect some fun Easter eggs hidden away in Lego The Incredibles. When will you be able to look for them? Well, the game is launching alongside the movie, so it depends where you're living to a certain extent. The game and film are launching in North America on June 15, while UK-based players will have to wait until July 13th to watch the movie and play the game.