Mini Review: Lego Star Wars for GameCube

I’m not a hardcore gamer, but I still enjoy a good hour or two with an entertaining video game.  The Lego Star Wars game was released a couple of years ago, but it recently dropped to the sub-$20 price level, meaning it was an easy purchase for me.  I had never really paid attention to it, but for the money, it was worth a try.  I was not sure if it would just be a rip-off of the Star Wars story that would grow old after a couple of plays, or provide something unique.

I’m happy to report that this game is not only fun, it is also quite humorous!  None of the Lego characters talk, but they do make different grunts, sighs and vocalizations that are often funny.  As this game is based on the early Star Wars trilogy (Episode I, II and III), you naturally have characters only from this trilogy.  So, you have a younger Yoda who speaks with a “Hmmmm…”, a Qui-Gon who sighs at the right time, and the seedy junkyard salesman who only says “Eeeeehhhh…” when he takes your money.  Some of their gestures and sound effects are funny as well.  Anyone familiar with the films would get a good chuckle out of the use of the characters and Lego pieces throughout the game.

Each character you are able use has different abilities.  A Jedi has the power of the force and fights with a light saber.  Any Sith character also has the force, but it is of course channeled from the “dark side”, and is able to access certain areas with the force that the Jedi can’t.  The force is not only used to defeat enemies, it is used to turn levers, open doors, and knock down barricades.  The Gungan Jar-Jar Binks has no weapon, but can jump the highest.  Anyone who uses a blaster (Queen Amidala, Padmé, Panaka, the clones, etc.) can not jump high, but they can grapple.  You can also use various enemies that you have defeated.  And, you have the droids:  R2-D2 and C-3P0 are used to open doorways and activate switches, and R2 can also turn off enemy droids.

When you start the game, you only have Qui-Gon Jinn and the Padawan version of Obi-Wan Kenobi.  As you progress, you are introduced to more characters, and they join your team.  On your first pass through the story, you play in “story mode”, and can only use one or two characters.  In “free play” mode, you pick your favorite team member, and can select from at least a half dozen more while you are playing.  You will need your different teammates’ special abilities to collect items throughout the game.

On the surface, this looks like your typical running-and-jumping game.   But, it also adds some problem solving situations, and the need to collect various items to continue through the game.  The game is divided into three episodes, and each episode has chapters.  Within each chapter, you need to collect ten “minikit pieces” to complete a mini Lego kit, which is usually a vehicle or droid in the story.  Collecting all ten nets you 50,000 Lego “studs” (the equivalent of coins) to spend at Dexter’s Diner, which is the jumping-off point for all of the levels in the game.  Also in each chapter, you have to fill your “Jedi meter”, which will earn you one of 17 pieces of a “master” kit.  When the master kit is complete, you get to play the “teaser” bonus level.

The problem solving comes when you search for minikit pieces, or enough Lego studs to fill your Jedi meter.  For that reason, and due to the abilities of other characters, you will likely have to play through all levels at least twice to collect everything.

What do you do with your unspent Lego studs?  At Dexter’s Diner, you can purchase other Lego characters for your team (mainly enemies and incidental characters), or you can unlock different game enhancements such as a “minikit detector”, or invincibility.  The other enhancements are purely cosmetic (I mean, c’mon, how often do you want to do battle with tea cups or push brooms?).  The unlocked bonus level is nothing special–it is a teaser for the next Lego Star Wars game, and if played correctly, can net you a lot of Lego studs to spend.

One unique gameplay aspect is the ability to have one or two players, and either player can join or drop out at any time during gameplay.  And it is also a good family-friendly game: youngsters and non-gamers would be able to pick up the gameplay aspects rather quickly, and there is enough to do that experienced gamers would not get quickly bored with it either.

Overall, this game is a lot of fun, and enough action to keep you occupied for awhile.  Given its new lower price, it’s a fantastic value.  Recommended!

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