Can it really be 17 years since we discovered the comedy gold woven into the space opera of Star Wars? It took the brick figures of Lego to foreground the gags and find the fun with the Lego Star Wars crossover in 2005.
ow this wildly successful format – mixing pop culture franchises with a child-friendly, adult-pleasing platformer in more than dozen instalments– comes full circle with an ambitious retelling of the nine Star Wars films. This mammoth saga hasn’t come without cost – Polygon reported in January of a challenging work culture at the developer’s studio and extensive crunch to finish the five-year project.
The amount of effort required is all there up on the screen as the familiar Lego game template is applied to the three trilogies, closely shadowing the arcs of the Lucasarts movies while adding reams of extra material for players to savour.
The gameplay has barely evolved in the intervening years, a mixture of gentle puzzles, easygoing platforming and deeply satisfying brick-smashing. But the technical niggles of old have been sanded down and improved hinting prevents players getting stuck.
The power of modern consoles lends a pleasing sheen to the cartoonish but detailed visuals, and fans of the films will delight in leisurely exploring areas that get only fleeting screen time. Naturally, the rousing soundtrack and fizzing effects never fail to bring a smile to the face.
The Skywalker Saga begins with Episode IV: A New Hope, taking Luke from farm boy to saviour of the Rebel Alliance in snappy sequences full of warmth and, most importantly, humour. Playing it straight just isn’t in the DNA of the series.
Once you’ve completed each film’s plot (after finishing New Hope, you can hop around in the trilogy at will), a world of replay awaits in the form of tricky challenges and collectibles hidden in the levels.
The original cast take no part but decent soundalikes voice not only most of the lines from the film scripts but heaps of other dialogue too, from throwaway quips to knowing one-liners. As always, the game resembles a slapstick comedy half the time, from pratfalls to sight gags. How about R2D2’s new headbutt move? Or the stormtroopers discovered practising tai-chi? Or Vader’s accidental playback of the Mos Eisley jazz tune as he tries to shoot down Luke over the Death Star.
The Skywalker Saga is theoretically aimed at young children with its indulgent difficult level. Yet it’s no secret that becomes far more fun when an adult joins in for co-operative play, triggering hilarious bickering as you shoot each other inadvertently or on purpose. This is family gaming at its finest: smart, engaging and, above all, funny.
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