Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy DS Review

Fun, fun, fun!

The original Lego Star Wars was a breath of fresh air. It was a simple game that anyone could get into easily, but it was also a whole lot of fun. And surely that’s why we all play games, isn’t it? Whilst some games become frustrating to a degree that you really do wonder whether you are actually enjoying it, that game was straightforward fun…and that’s a very good thing.

The original and best

As good as it was, while playing the original game you couldn’t help but wish that the focus of the game had been the first Star Wars trilogy, the one that we would all count as the ‘real’ Star Wars. Well, our prayers have been answered as Amaze Entertainment and LucasArts bring us just what we wanted…Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and the rest in all of their lego glory.

While this game is available on every known format (even GameCube if you buy it from Game), this review is based on the Nintendo DS version. While undoubtedly inferior in graphical prowess to the big console versions, the content and gameplay is pretty similar. I’ll also state right from the start that this game doesn’t really utilise the unique features of the Nintendo DS at all. The gameplay all happens on the top screen, with the touch screen only brought into play for menus and camera control.

This doesn’t distract from the fact that this sequel maintains the fun factor perfectly from the first game. It’s one of those games that you’ll play with a smile on your face, with several laugh out loud moments scattered throughout the game. For those who didn’t play the first one, this is the deal: You will play through all 3 episodes of the original trilogy with characters and worlds constructed entirely of Lego. Should you kill an enemy, or destroy an object, it will break up into its original Lego parts. Likewise, you will often come across piles of Lego pieces that your on-screen characters can construct into specific objects that are often needed to advance the story.

This is the game you’re looking for

You will begin in the Mos Eisley Cantina which acts as a hub to all of the other game features. You can proceed from here into the individual episodes, now known as IV, V and VI. You can also customise characters to your heart’s content. Imagine Princess Leia’s head, Chewbacca’s body and C3PO’s legs, complete with Jedi lightsaber and you have an idea of some of the options open to you. You can then save these characters (3 available slots) and use them in the game. This is a fun mode and you can spend a good while just messing about with the individual Lego pieces.

The cantina also gives access to Free Play for any areas you have completed in story mode, as well as the game’s wireless gameplay features. You can play the full story mode in co-op with a friend, although it is worth noting that both players must own a copy of the game card. Single card download play is available for the 4 player battle arena, and it can be a blast (pun intended) pitting your Jedi skills against a friend.

Throughout the story mode, you will take charge of a whole range of characters. Your party will often have up to 4 characters in it, and a simple press of the touch screen icons will change the character you are directly controlling. This is integral to the game design as you will need to utilise the different abilities of each character to progress through the levels. Story wise, there’s not much to say except that the game faithfully follows the plot of the 3 films. If you have seen the films, there are no surprises here.

Graphically the game is, on the whole, very good. Characters move well and the whole game has a crisp look to it. There are some issues, however. The frame rate can stutter a little if there’s a lot going on on-screen, and graphical glitches are fairly common (eg characters sinking into the floor, or even disappearing momentarily). These are not game breakers, as they are fleeting and do not distract from the game’s enjoyment, but they are noticeable and therefore need to be mentioned.

Sounds fantastic

The sound is a different matter. It is absolutely superb, from the famous music in the cantina to the sound effects of the blasters and lightsabers. Everything is beautifully done, and this is among the best sound I have ever heard in a handheld game. The gameplay is a mixture of on foot and in vehicles, and yes, you get to bring down the Death Star and tangle the legs of the AT-ATs. The controls are pretty tight, although the game does suffer a little through the DS’s lack of an analogue stick. Control is done entirely through the D-pad and the face buttons, with the shoulder buttons not being used. As stated, there is no touch screen control, but it’s not really needed. I am not a fan of using touch screen control just because it is available, and I don’t think it would have worked well within this game.

In terms of lifespan, the three episodes will take you around 8 – 10 hours to complete. There isn’t a whole lot of difficulty in just getting through the story, mainly because you can’t die. You can be shot to little Lego pieces, but just like real Lego, you can just be rebuilt and carry on from there. There is, though, a lot to do after completing the story mode. There are a whole host of things to go back and collect in Free Play. This will involve going back into the levels with a range of characters, as some things are only accessible to certain character types. You will also collect Lego Studs throughout the game, which can be used to buy unlockables in the Cantina.

Ultimately, this game carries on where the previous one left off in terms of the overall package. It’s not a hard game, it’s not a complex game, but it’s a damn fun game. And, as stated at the beginning of the review, isn’t that what gaming is all about? Despite a few shortcomings, this comes recommended, especially for fans of the films.

The force is with this one; all DS owners should have a Luke get this Han held gaming delight.

8 out of 10