By Marigold K.
Ah, the Lego game series... it really is kind of wild how we live in the universe where we can say that, isn't it? Video Games and Lego, who'd have known those two would go about as well together as chocolate and peanut butter! And yet we're ten years into this fun (and lucrative) series of video games - that's ten years of stud-collecting, minikit-hunting, cute and intuitive gameplay that brought joy to the hearts of video game players both young and old.
I grew up with these games, I played my first (which, interestingly enough, happened to be the first of the series) on a rented copy from Blockbuster Video, fell in love with it, and have been semi-keeping-up with the series ever since. This year I got a replacement copy for my GameCube (which has, as of late, become my system of choice for re-experiencing my old multi-platform PS2 titles), and, with this ten year milestone (and the release of the new Star Wars film weeks behind us, yikes!), I figured now would be a nice time to just go over what made it such an enduring hit, how it holds up to this day, and why I think you all owe it to yourselves to at least check it out!
The Lego game series has a habit of taking negatively-received or otherwise forgettable elements or characters of the property it's using and making the player love them in the game, and that's immediately apparent from the moment you start a new game. Who among us can honestly say we remember Dexter Jettster and his diner from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones? Don't you cheat and google him, face it - Dexter Jettster isn't the most memorable character in the Star Wars universe.
Dexter and his diner in the game, on the other hand, are, for me as a fan of the game, is instantly recognizable, and a tremendous source of nostalgia, having spent years window-shopping all the buyable characters, extras, and entering codes for other extras when I got too impatient. This has, to my knowledge, been continued throughout the Lego games' existence in each one of their games, and I think that deserves some credit!
On top of being able to imbue such whimsy to what could have simply been an afterthought, credit has to be given to the writers at Traveller's Tales for being so funny! The game is tasked to tell the whole story of films that, all together, go for roughly eight hours (albeit in truncated form), and not only do they pull that off, but it's fun! Not even the films themselves could do that for me the whole time, so that's quite a feat!
Now, with all that said, what about the gameplay? How do you translate lightsaber combat, interstellar (and airborne) dogfighting, blaster... blasting, and all that other stuff that helps make Star Wars so cool... into Lego?
The answer is keep it simple so anyone can pick it up and play it--but not too simple, so nobody gets bored (less-experienced players can get by fine, skilled players will be rewarded for becoming familiar with the lightsaber combat system). On top of that, throw in a vehicle sequence about once every episode. Each time in a different way to keep up variety.
And with that all done and well-executed, they pulled it off. They brought Star Wars to Lego, and it worked. More than that, it was fun (not to mention solid). It enchanted the hearts of the many who (like me) grew up playing it.
So you'd think they'd call it a day after that, right? They lego-ified a whole trilogy of films and made it fun and engaging, set to release two months before one of the movies it features as a part of its game (so it's already guaranteed to sell incredibly well)... you'd think that'd be enough, right?
About seventeen minikits (eighteen, counting the super minikit), countless unlockable and buyable characters (including every single character that was in the three films and their mother), and extras that range from making every lightsaber purple to giving every character a mustache, it's safe to say they covered all their bases and then some.
And that's Lego Star Wars: The Video Game, the game that started the Lego game series! I think it holds up very well, it's still fun today, and it deserves respect for all the good it did... In fact, I'd go as far as to say this is my favorite Star Wars game (oh yea, I went there.) Please feel free to leave a comment about what you thought of the game, what you thought of the article, and maybe let us know what your favorite Star Wars game is. Have fun, and... oh, this is the part where I get to say the Star Wars thing at the end of the article. Right. Ahem...
Live long and prosper!