December 2020 marks the 25th anniversary since the LEGO company’s first video game released. To celebrate the milestone, the company has produced a 10-part podcast series called Bits N’ Bricks that walk through the history of the plastic brick company’s foray into digital games, from Minecraft to LEGO Island and the LEGO Star Wars games, and everything in between. LEGO says they’ve been working on the show for more than a year, and have interviewed at least 120 people and researched more than 50 games in the course of production. The podcasts will be released weekly, with the inaugural episode launching today. The first episode is actually a teaser that’s not part of the main 10-part series, and along with a Christmas special in a few weeks, means the whole series will run for 12 weeks.
The podcast will be hosted by journalist Brian Crecente and documentarian Ethan Vincent. Crecente has a long history with video game journalism, having founded Kotaku and co-founded Polygon, and Vincent likewise has an impressive resume as an Emmy Award-winning documentary director for PBS.
Check out the timeline below to double-check your own LEGO video games knowledge, and you can read the whole press release and check out a gallery of images from classic LEGO games. Most of us probably thought LEGO Island was the first video game with the LEGO logo, but actually the original LEGO video game, released in 1995, was an educational game produced by SEGA for the Japanese market called Fun to Build. It was followed two years later by the much better known LEGO Island.
Let your nostalgia run wild with this gallery of LEGO video game images ranging from the very earliest days right up to the LEGO Microgame announced this fall. We’ve even spotted some things that most fans probably wouldn’t think to include, like the Fish Designer at the LEGO House in Billund.
The official press release from LEGO:
FROM BRICKS TO BITS: THE LEGO GROUP CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF LEGO® VIDEO GAMES
Anniversary marked by the launch of a new podcast which explores untold stories behind a quarter of a century of LEGO gaming innovation, from the release of Japan only Sega Pico title LEGO® Fun to Build to the upcoming release of eagerly awaited multi-platform title LEGO Star Wars™: The Skywalker Saga
This month sees the 25th anniversary of the release of the LEGO Group’s first ever video game and marks a quarter of a century of digital innovation. From the small-scale release of a SEGA Educational game, LEGO Fun to Build, in Japan December 1995 to global blockbuster titles LEGO® Harry Potter™: Years 1-4 or LEGO® Star Wars™: The Complete Saga, the last 25 years has seen the iconic LEGO System in Play come to life digitally in over 80 commercial games and bring creative play to gaming fans all over the world.
The company’s video games development team started life as ‘Project Darwin’, a small team led by artist Dent-de-Lion Du Midi who travelled to the LEGO Group’s headquarters in the mid-1990s to convince then CEO, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, to let the team experiment with digitizing the brick. The team showed Kjeld what some have described as the first ever LEGO Movie – a short film they had spent a year producing in the run up to the meeting. Since the team’s inception, the LEGO Group has developed over 80 games and sold over 200 million games globally to bring creative digital play experiences to families globally.
“Over a quarter of a century after the launch of the team’s first video game, the LEGO brick and LEGO System in Play continues to provide the ultimate creative medium for gaming fans of all ages.” says Ronny Scherer, Senior Director of LEGO Games. “It offers builders and game developers unlimited opportunities to create, play and develop in a way that is continually evolving to provide new, exciting play and gaming experiences and that can help introduce new gamers to digital play. We are proud to have long embraced the digitalization of the LEGO brick both through products and gaming to extend the enjoyment of LEGO play across both the real and the digital worlds, opening up new playgrounds for all.”
The Top 5 best-selling LEGO games over the 25-years (in no particular order):
- LEGO® Marvel™ Super Heroes
- LEGO® Harry Potter™: Years 1-4
- LEGO® Star Wars™: The Complete Saga
- LEGO® Batman™: The Video Game
- LEGO® Batman™ 2: DC Super Heroes
To celebrate the anniversary, a new podcast series, ‘Bits N’ Bricks, hosted by journalist Brian Crecente and documentarian Ethan Vincent launches with a teaser episode ahead of a full episode the following week. The series delves into the LEGO Group’s long, rich history in digital play and video games and explore the many facets of LEGO gaming, from unreleased projects to beloved masterpieces.
The podcasts will examine digital play innovations at the LEGO Group more broadly as well as a number of specific titles and themes. These include a previously undiscussed project with Mojang on a LEGO Minecraft title, early efforts to fuse the physical and digital into a singular play experience, a deep dive into the creation of the unheralded LEGO Island – a Mindscape developed action adventure game that was the company’s first globally available game, and an intriguing series of conversations with LEGO Group leaders about the future of digital play.
Spending more than a year investigating the history of LEGO video games, Crecente and Vincent researched more than 275 people involved in the creation of more than 50 of the games and conducted more than 100 interviews.
The Bits N’ Bricks podcast kicks off on December 2 with a teaser episode, followed by an episode dedicated to the meetings Minecraft creator Mojang held with the LEGO Group in an effort to craft a new sandbox, open-world game.
The season will see a new episode release weekly, concluding with a special show featuring conversations with the LEGO Group’s current leadership about the evolution, opportunities, and innovation involved in digital play.
Each episode will be available on the LEGO Group website, as well as on all popular podcast platforms for free. The full schedule can be found below.
The 25th anniversary will also see the launch of a webpage dedicated to the Bits N’ Bricks podcast, as well as a packed infographic timeline that illustrates some of the key moments in the LEGO Group’s quarter-of-a-century history in digital play and gaming.
Bits N’ Bricks Episode Information
- Teaser Episode
- Episode 1 – Minecraft
- Episode 2 – Fluid Play
- Holiday Special
- Episode 3 – LEGO Island
- Episode 4 – Rise of the LEGO Digital Creator
- Episode 5 – LEGO Builder’s Journey
- Episode 6 – History of TT Games
- Episode 7 – LEGO Universe Part 1
- Episode 8 – LEGO Universe Part 2
- Episode 9 – Strategic Product Unit Darwin
- Episode 10 – LEGO Gaming 25th Anniversary
Bits N’ Bricks Fun Facts
- Total people interviewed: 120
- Total people researched: More than 275
- Total games researched: More than 50
- Data collected and archived: 11 terabytes