Since their creation decades ago the multi-colored LEGO construction bricks have probably been staples in every
child's toybox across the globe. And what kid couldn't resist the universal appeal to create stuff? I must've built
hundreds of homes and structures with my sets of those sturdy and versatile LEGO bricks, which have survived and
remained intact throughout the years (unlike my other toys).
In the late 1990's LEGO decided to branch out into new media, launching innovative sets that interfaced with computers,
along with releases of stand-alone software for PCs and gaming consoles that incorporate the basic snap-together
concept of the LEGO bricks. One such title is LEGO Alpha Team, just one of three titles for the Game Boy Color.
In LEGO Alpha Team, you must stop the plans of the sinister Ogel and halt production of Evil Orbs manned by his
zombies. Unfortunately, the other members of the Alpha Team have been captured by Ogel, leaving only Dash the Motion
Expert to rescue them. As Dash sneaks into Ogel's base, you must guide him through the levels and rescue the other
The game is basically a series of puzzles with one main goal: to open the exit door at the end of each level. This
is done by touching the plunger switches, and the tricky part is how to reach them.
Dash and the other members of your team only move in one aimless direction, but you can steer them to a certain
path until they reach the plungers by utilizing various special bricks scattered in every level, like Direction
Changer Tiles, stairways, trampolines, see-saws, explosives, lasers, and others.
You only have a limited number of these tiles per level, so use them wisely. Also, a timer ticks away at the start
of each level, and once the clock runs out before you manage to open the door, the game ends and you have to start
it all over again.
As Dash successfully rescues each member, they become available for use later on, with some levels needing the
cooperation of other members as they work simultaneously to hit the plungers.
The direction pad is used to scroll smoothly across each level while tiles
are picked up and set down with the A button. The B button is used to rotate certain tiles like the Direction Changers
and Stairways. The Start button activates your team members, and the Select button pauses the game.
Once your team is on the move, you can switch camera views of each member present on the level with the A button,
or you can reset them to their starting positions with the B button.
Graphics & Sound
Graphics in LEGO Alpha Team are relatively okay--the familiar bricks are easily discernible
and levels are brightly colored with bits of spot animation. The team members look too small though, and are almost
indistinguishable from the zombies.
Music is nice and catchy, and some parts strongly reminded me of the Cave music in Pokémon GS. Sound effects
are good, but nothing really outstanding.
This game is strictly for puzzle freaks and not for those without patience.
As each mission progresses the puzzles get fiendishly difficult, with levels becoming more complex and sparse tiles
available; before you know it, time's already up and you have to start over.
Some tiles also serve as red herrings that aren't even used in the puzzles, and more often than not the obvious
solution is not the one required to open the door. The tiles can be confounding to use at first, but a little experimentation
can go a long way--it also helps a lot to finish the training missions to familiarize yourself with the special
tiles and how they work.
Sometimes it's a bit difficult to judge height and depth on each level, as well as exactly which spot the characters
move onto. This could result in team members passing over tiles and hitting walls, jumping too short a distance,
and misalignment of steps.
And manipulating the tiles can get pretty tedious--you have to scroll around the entire level looking for them,
picking one up and placing it down then going back for the others, wasting a lot of time in the process. The pause
feature just freezes the game in that screen area--it would've been very helpful if you could scroll across the
entire level while it's paused.
It would also be better if you were given a separate storage screen with the tiles available to you for each level
at the start, so you can select them from this screen instead, thus minimizing the need for unnecessary scrolling
But overall, LEGO Alpha Team is a good start for LEGO games on the Game Boy Color. With 40+ levels and a handy
save feature, this is one puzzle game recommended for those who want to exercise their minds and have a good challenge,
while those who prefer slam-bang action should look elsewhere. With the next generation Game Boy Advance on the
way and the announcement that they will be developing games for this more powerful handheld, we can only expect
even better stuff from LEGO in the future.