Crispy Gamer

LEGO Star Wars: The Original Saga (Wii)

It sounded like a stupid idea, really. Back in 2005 we?d had our fill of Star Wars, and many fans were still feeling burned by Lucas? disappointing prequels -- so who?d want to play a Star Wars game starring characters made of plastic building blocks? I mean besides parents and children? Turned out the game, LEGO Star Wars, won gamers? hearts, wielding solid gameplay on one hand and a wicked sense of humor and style on the other. There is real joy inherent in blasting bumbling Storm Troopers into their component bits. Traveller?s Tales injected whimsy into what could have been infantile, making it appealing to the kid and Star Wars fan inside all of us so-called hardcore gamers. The sequel featured the beloved Original Trilogy and refined the gameplay even further. Now, like a DVD special edition of the movies, you can get both LEGO Star Wars games in one package and play them on your Nintendo Wii.

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga is simple. Play as one of many (unlockable) Star Wars characters and use them to move through all the important plot points -- and a few new side-quests -- from all six major motion pictures. Take on a plastic Rancor, strafe the Death Star, and duel with Darth Maul, all rendered in colorful LEGO cuteness (it?s like playing a fan-made YouTube video). Action is the focus, but the game also features some clever but not-too-challenging puzzles. Most of them are of the ?use this with that? variety, and some may stump you, but since this is a kids? game, one of its great pleasures is playing through it quickly and then playing through again as a different favorite or bizarre Star Wars character. They?re all here: Han, Obi-Wan, Luke, Vader, Qui-Gon, C3PO, Chewie, Yoda, Darth Maul, General Grievous, Lando, Princess Leia -- and Princess Leia in Slave Girl Outfit (you were waiting for that one, weren?t you?). You can also create combinations of characters. Yes, just like in real life you can put Yoda?s head on Leia?s body (c?mon, you know you did this).

The game?s camera system is a bit erratic, but the action is satisfying, both in gunplay and with the more elegant Lightsaber. The game features a reward system that has you smashing things to collect LEGO studs so you can spend them on weird little goodies like disguises and also unlockable characters at the Cantina. It?d be nice if the studs were attracted to your character; instead expect to spend a lot of time maneuvering your character around trying to gather them all up.

Maneuvering is accomplished on the Wii by using the stick on the Nunchuk attachment. It?s initially cool, but waggling the Wii remote all the time grows tiresome.

The game rewards explorers and gatherers: Each of the game?s 36 levels is riddled with secret stuff (you can actually unlock Indiana Jones if you search hard enough), and you can return for more studs by using different characters. For example, some areas are too small for big characters to get through, but it?s a snap for Yoda, an Ewok or a Jawa.

The graphics are clean and bright, but only as detailed as the previous games. Naturally there?s none of the shine and sheen found on the PS3, PC and Xbox 360 versions. The game still lets another player drop in or out for a little cooperative fun at will, but the Wii has no cooperative Internet multiplayer, which is a shame. Of course the audio, sound effects and music are great. Besides the clatter of falling plastic pieces, you?ll hear the familiar Star Wars sound effects (the PWEW of a blaster, the hum of a saber, the beep of an astromech droid -- they?re all here) and of course, John Williams? original scores featuring highlights from all six movies.

Of course, the appeal to kids is readily apparent -- the Star Wars universe has it all: violence, space ships, monsters, magic (or midi-chlorians if you prefer), laser swords, blasters and more. But for adults, especially adults who played with LEGO sets and Kenner Star Wars action figures as kids, the game is literally your imagination come to life. LEGO Star Wars triggers a powerful nostalgic reaction that more than makes up for its childlike degree of difficulty and simple gameplay. It?s a trap all right, but one in which most geeks wouldn?t mind getting caught.

This review was based on a retail copy of the game purchased by the author.