Product tie-ins, and brand spin-offs are nothing new in the world of games. Everybody from the Seven-Up Spot to the creepy Burger King has had their due in some form. The tastefulness they display while communicating their brand message usually goes a long way towards delivering a satisfying gameplay experience. If the player feels like he’s being beaten over the head with an extra value meal, chances are he’s going to view the game for the advertisement that it is and discard it. On the other hand, if the branding exists merely as the base from which the rest of the game is designed, there’s a potential for success there. Lego games have traditionally enjoyed the good fortune of falling into that second category; utilizing the unique heritage those little blocks have had in rearing generations of young boys. Bionicle Heroes is careful to tow this line, and it gives the game an edge over other, similar offerings. For those unfamiliar, Bionicles are a series of gun-toting humanoid robots that have helped underscore Lego’s effort to woo the hearts and wallets of young boys (and men, let’s be honest here). Bionicle Heroes puts the player on an island where he is tasked with blasting his way through six levels of block-busting madness to recover six elemental masks from the evil Paraka, and get back the Mask of Light. The narrative itself leaves quite a bit to be desired, especially considering none of the game’s characters are capable of speech, but it sets the stage reasonably well for the action that’s to follow.
The game is basically composed of six separate zones, aligned with a specific element and accessible via a system of portals very reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot. Within each zone there are four sub-levels, each of which follows a familiar pattern leading to a fight against that zone’s evil Paraka. To get through each level, you have to collect a certain number of Lego pieces to put you into a A