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Star Wars and Legos and a double bill on nostalgia circuit

by Kenny Lindsay

Since it’s a well-established fact that I, Kenny Lindsay, am a high-ranking officer in the Dork Squadron, I have no qualms about sharing my obsession with Star Wars, nor my long-lost passion for Legos. I can’t help but recall the countless number of times my little Lego figures and vehicles made their way into my Millennium Falcon or flew alongside an X-wing in an attempt to crash through an intricately built space station constructed of various Legos and Star Wars action figures. Man, were those the good old days. Without a doubt, I’m sure the makers of the Lego Star Wars series had this in mind, making me realize that this game is not only targeted towards children, but well-rounded, grown-up Dork captains like myself.

Lego Star Wars II by Lucas Arts is the second and most recent installment of the series and is absolutely packed to the brim with endless amounts of challenging entertainment. The game follows closely in sequence with the movies and this second title leads the player through episodes IV, V and VI.

The foundation starts in Mos Eisley Cantina, where the player can return throughout the game at any time to either enter codes, unlock hints, extras and story clips, use gold bricks or, best of all, unlock characters, which can easily turn into an obsession. Don’t be fooled by this safe haven; fights can easily break out.

The two main play modes are story and free play. In order to beat the game and open levels for free play, the story modes must be finished. Fortunately for us, beating the game is only half of the challenge. There are also bonus levels that can be unlocked such as Jabba’a Lair, which sends the player chasing after a character in hopes of cashing in on its bounty.

Of course two-player co-op mode is included and in some cases necessary to obtain some of the treats and bonuses stashed within the landscapes.

Throughout the game you’re on what seems to be an endless quest for power bricks, gold bricks, mini-kit canisters and studs – that essentially amount to cash. Power bricks unlock extra features that can be purchased at the Cantina pub. Obtain as many gold bricks as possible to open bonus levels. If enough studs are collected you will earn “True Jedi Status” at the end of each level; trust me, every stud in the level has to be pinched to achieve this.

Mini-kit canisters are hidden throughout the game and if 10 are collected in a level, exclusive Star Wars vehicles will be unlocked back at the watering hole. There is no way a player will be able to find all of them without beating the game first and unlocking the characters necessary to even get to them, making the replay value extremely favorable. Some of the canisters and bonuses are so hard to find I started to question my own intelligence because the game is rated for ages 10 and up. With that being said, the challenge factor is high, even for a title that on the outside seems to be built for children.

The new features that pop up are the character carry-over and character customizer. Character carry-over lets you import all the characters that have been unlocked in Lego Star Wars, the first installment. This is one rockin’ feature and hopefully other games will catch on. The character costumizer is pretty self-explanatory. As characters are unlocked, you’ll be able to mix and match their body parts to make your own unique creature. Say Greedo’s legs, Leia’s bust, Luke’s lightsaber and Chewie’s head. Heck, throw a cape or jet pack on them while you’re at it. Use these characters in the free play mode to help find all the goodies.

Unlike any other Star Wars game I’ve played, the soundtrack follows the movie to a T and any John Williams fan is sure to be impressed. There is no dialogue in the game either. The little plastic characters sound a lot like a phone conversation from Charlie Brown, adding to their toyish charm. Cut scenes are a riot, injecting a very comical twist to what happens in the film. Even some of the hidden bonuses add comedy, like unlocking a door only to find two storm troopers sitting in a hot tub together, looking very surprised to have been discovered. The sound effects are right on cue, from the humming lightsabers to the trademark sound of Vader’s respiratory functions. It’s enamoring to watch your character scurry about, clicking together little plastic blocks, building vehicles and objects that even amateur Lego builders will recognize. Every little piece is represented exactly the way real Legos are, even right down to the character’s little hands. It easily brings back warm childhood memories, so much so that I dug up my old bin of Legos from the attic – of course for my nieces to play with, even though they were nowhere to be found at the time.

Stereotypically we think of Legos being mostly for boys. I found my youngest niece absolutely enthralled watching me play, as she sifted through my vintage tub-o-Legos, looking for the pieces that she was seeing on the screen.

I’m a little bummed out I have to move on to another game but I will definitely be revisiting this one from time to time. It’s wonderful and I can honestly recommend it to just about everyone, especially to families with younger children. Not only is it fun for the young ones but can also captivate the attention of all those big kids out there and bring back to life some of those old classic memories of playing with Legos.

To comment on this story, e-mail Kenny Lindsay at kenny@yesweekly.com.

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