RELEASED: March 2005
AVAILABLE ON: GBA, GCN, MAC, PC, PS2, Xbox
DEVELOPER(S): Griptonite Games (GBA), Traveller's Tales (GCN, PC, PS2, Xbox), Giant Entertainment (MAC)
PUBLISHER(S): Eidos Interactive (GBA, GCN, PC, PS2, Xbox), Aspyr Media (MAC)
When I was a kid, I had lots of Legos. Now before you start getting all smart on me, let me tell you: I had LOTS of Legos. Buckets upon buckets of those damn addictive bricks. I simply loved them. When the Star Wars franchise was expanded to Legos in 1999 on the heels of the premiere of The Phantom Menace, me and a friend of mine were very, very bitter. Now they decided to do Star Wars Legos? It's not fair. Even today I can't wait to have kids so that I could have some sort of an excuse to tinker with Legos. If they still sell Star Wars Legos then, my second shot at childhood will most likely hit the bullseye. "Daddy stole my X-Wing!" Aaahhh... can't wait. 'Til then, I'll have to do with Lego Star Wars video games. Based on the prequel trilogy and released just in time before Episode III's world premiere, Lego Star Wars - The Video Game on the Game Boy Advance was the very first video game in the Lego video game franchise, very popular among kids and for good reasons. It's funny, cute, audiovisually somewhat genius, and definitely different from all other games of the Star Wars brand. However, it's also frustrating and highly repetitive in every sense. Which qualities outshine which?
A long time ago, in a Scandinavian country far, far away...
|Droid mash-up, Lego style!|
The graphics are good in the traditional sense, but the thing that attracts me most about this game is the imagination of the developers when it comes to uniting the two basic themes of the game: Star Wars and Legos. The visual design is just genius, like when you change characters: your current character smashes to pieces, the pieces morph and re-assemble themselves into the likeness of the other team member. Of course, the cutscenes - which in this Game Boy Advance version are just stills - cannot be ignored. Even some of the most violent and touching scenes from the movies have been neatly turned into somewhat comical, but also strangely dramatic Lego opera. The music is a good, well-produced mix of the prequel trilogy's soundtrack, compiled by Ian Stocker who specializes in games for Nintendo's handhelds, mostly licensed games. There are some random voice samples, comical grunts and droid jabber.
|"But daddy, I don't wanna play as Jar Jar!" |
"I know, son... but better you than me."
The basic idea is to guide a large host of Lego Star Wars characters through mostly maze-like levels and scenes inspired by the prequel trilogy, solve puzzles and kick an excessively large amount of ass while you're at it. Each stage has one to three playable characters, who you often need to switch around to make use of their special abilities. This is the first stepping stone of the game. You absolutely must play as Jar Jar Binks, it's like some sort of a bad inside joke that you actually need to beat three stages in succession with Jar Jar as your only option. Luckily he's only in such a leading role during the Episode I segment. What makes Jar Jar so essential is his ability to jump higher than anyone else.
|The tragic fate of one Qui-Gon Jinn.|
You do play through most of the main campaign as a Jedi; in order of appearance, namely Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, a matured Anakin Skywalker, and Yoda. Yes, Yoda is finally a playable character - the slowest of the all the Jedi and he has the lamest special Force ability, but the coolest combo. Each character is indeed different, and they use the Force differently. Common abilities between all the Jedi are to slam the ground with the lightsaber, and to deflect projectiles with their lightsabers by actually blocking or simply hitting at the incoming shots; it's more essential than ever and you actually gain points for unlockables from each deflected shot. Obi-Wan uses Force Push, which is very weak and I've not found one use for it. Qui-Gon uses Force Stealth - or something like that - to render himself invisible for a short while and take large groups of enemies by surprise. Anakin has the Saber Throw, which is very effective, but also slow, and it renders him vulnerable to attacks since you can't do anything without your saber. Yoda creates a force field around one enemy to stop 'em from taking action.
|Using the Force to rebuild the Lars' farm.|
...And repetitive. There are only a few different settings per Episode, and on some occasions, you need to return to the EXACT same levels you've already beaten and backtrack your way through them, with the same characters you used to beat 'em in the first place. How deliciously dull. Well, if it was any other way, the game would be much shorter than it already is, but I'm having a hard time to decide whether I wanted a consistent, interesting game, or a lengthy, challenging game. We can't have both in Lego Star Wars. The boss fights quite frankly suck ass. There is absolutely no distinct strategy to be used on any of the few bosses in the game, you just need to combo each one to death.
|To be continued...|
Lego Star Wars - The Video Game on the Game Boy Advance is an enjoyable, but hollow experience that feels most like a back-and-forth beat 'em up game decorated with some simple puzzles and appealing audiovisual design. The appeal of the story pretty much ends after just one playthrough, but the Free Play mode with its 15 playable characters to purchase and choose from makes the game last for more than that while of six hours.
GRAPHICS : 9.1
SOUND : 8.9
PLAYABILITY : 7.4
LIFESPAN : 6.3
CONCLUSION : 7.2
a.k.a. Lego Star Wars
GameRankings: 77.60% (GBA), 79.85% (GCN), 78.87% (PC), 78.92% (PS2), 76.99% (Xbox)