Ex-Lego game devs formed a new studio to explore a completely different genre: Funko Pops

The Lego games developed by Traveller's Tales—Lego Star Wars, Lego Marvel, all of those—are held up as some of the best examples of family-friendly licensed games. Now the former heads of that studio are trying to repeat those years of Lego success, but with a toy that isn't quite as universally beloved: the big-headed, vacant-eyed vinyl figures sometimes seen lining shelves of YouTubers and Twitch streamers.

Coming to PC and consoles this September, Funko Fusion is a co-op action-puzzle game much in the same vein as the Lego games, except the characters are all Funko Pop figures, mostly based on movies and series owned by NBC Universal. The roster includes "over 60 characters" from Jurassic World, Back to the Future, The Umbrella Academy, Jaws, Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, Megan (that 2022 horror movie about a doll that I refuse to call M3GAN), Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Invincible, Battlestar Galactica, and other film and TV worlds.

Funko Fusion developer 10:10 Games was formed in 2021 by Traveller's Tales co-founder Jon Burton with former TT head of design Arthur Parsons, former TT studio diretor Paul Flanagan, and other former members of TT's senior leadership team. Burton founded Traveller's Tales all the way back in 1989, and in the 2000s and 2010s, he directed and designed over a dozen Lego games. Unsurprisingly, Funko Fusion looks very much like those games. 

One notable difference is that Funko Fusion features four-player online co-op, but no local co-op, which I always thought was one of the main attractions of the Lego games. "We made the decision to go online co-op for four players, because that's where we think our player base is," said Parsons during a Q&A which followed a remote demonstration of the game last week.

During the demo, Parsons ran around as RJ MacReady from The Thing in the movie's Antarctic research facility. Each character has a unique ranged weapon, melee weapon, and special move: MacReady has a shotgun, fire ax, and jump slam. The level's aggressive Norwegians barfed up colorful gems as Parsons shotgunned and axed them, and it's so unmistakably the work of the Lego game designers that I almost forgot I was seeing beady-eyed Funko Pops running around instead of beady-eyed Lego guys.

The puzzle-solving is likewise very Lego game-like: Parsons shot glowing targets on gas pipes to make them shoot flames, which in one case melted an iced-over grate. Later, he found his way into a "cameo level" hidden in The Thing's frigid base which transported him to Shaun of the Dead's London neighborhood. There are "surprises and secrets around every corner," says Parsons.

(Image credit: 10:10 Games Ltd/Universal)

That's the most promising aspect of Funko Fusion, to me: the possibility of discovering unexpected interactions between its many film and television worlds and characters. Any character can turn into The Thing, as one example. 

To experience those secret levels, Easter eggs, and crossovers, though, we'll first have to submit to immersing ourselves in a world inhabited solely by Funko Pops. I'm not militantly anti-Pop—they're just another bit of mass-produced pop culture debris to me—but I wouldn't say that I find their soulless faces charming. 

It does seem like I fall within the game's target demographic, though. Local co-op made the Lego games great for parents and kids to play together, but Funko Fusion is focusing on online players like me. At the same time, I have to imagine that references like The Thing, Jaws, and Masters of the Universe (the show with He-Man in it) will land best with the 40-and-up crowd, not my little nieces. (There are some more recent references, too, like the movie Nope. Also probably not ideal for my nieces.)

But maybe it will turn out that Star Wars and Marvel licenses and nostalgia for yellow bricks are just secondary factors in the Lego game love, and I'll wind up liking the Funko game primarily for carrying on that tradition of fun co-op action-puzzle game design. Funko Fusion is set to release this year, on September 13, and the PC version will be on Steam and the Epic Games Store.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.