Game #28: Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2007)

lego-star-wars-the-complete-saga-10096director: Jon Burton
language: English, though not really spoken
length: 36 levels, took me in the region of 16 hours
story mode finished on: 21 Mar 2014

I downloaded this when I was on a renewed app-downloading spree after getting a new phone, which has a lot more space to play around with than the previous one, so randomly buying 800 MB apps has become a possibility. It lets you play the first episode (six levels) for free, before asking you to pay $10 for the privilege of playing the other five episodes. I’d already played the original trilogy levels a few years back, first in 2007 when my housemate bought the game, and later in 2010 when I wanted to replay it myself. The game is getting old now.

The iOS version is pretty much a straight port of the console version, although it misses one of the most crucial elements of why Lego Star Wars was successful and popular in the first place, which is the co-op two player mode. You can’t even connect two phones over wifi in order to play co-op, so they’ve just taken it out entirely. The game is still fun to play single-player, but there are a lot of design choices that make absolutely no sense without the implicit assumption that they were made to accommodate two players. There’s even a whole “arcade” mode which hinges on the idea that you have two players competing.

The controls can be a bit frustrating. There are two ways to play it: touch controls and a virtual D-pad. I went for the D-pad, because the touch controls were inaccurate and led me to accidentally kill civilians by touching them. The initial problem with the D-pad is that it appears wherever you first touch the screen, and you have to physically move your finger in the direction you want it to go, if that makes sense. If you release your finger and press down again you won’t keep going in the same direction, you’ll have to move the finger again. It took me a long time to work out that there’s an option to “lock” it in one position, which is much better for muscle memory. With the D-pad there is also a set of right-thumb controls in the same layout as the Playstation or X-box, with little icons for their function instead of symbols like Triangle and X.

Anyway, the game is fun – fun enough that I wanted to replay it even after several years. The prequel trilogy levels aren’t as good as the original trilogy levels – they’re partly hampered by a worse story, to be fair, but because they were actually made first, the game makers had a lot to learn. The original trilogy levels tend to be longer and make use of different mechanics: for instance, there’s not as much jedi force manipulation and there’s a lot more brick-building. The prequel trilogy has high-jumping sections which don’t occur in the original trilogy. A bit of digging tells me that the level list for “The Complete Saga” has a few differences from the original games, and that Lego Star Wars I, the prequel trilogy, had something called fruit blocks. It also had a practically impossible level in the podcast race, which is only level 4 or so – its time limit is absurdly low and it’s very unforgiving. It’s replicated in this game as a bonus. The new version is very easy to pass.

Lego has been very successful about expanding their brand to video games, and I’ve heard good things about the new movie (although I’ve yet to see it), so maybe that should be my next step. I should note that while this game is good, the iOS version of Lego Harry Potter didn’t live up to my expectations, as it seems to have been greatly simplified for the platform. I guess my main criticism of Lego Star Wars is that it can get basically too cutesy and a little insufferable at times. The music is also repetitive (although it mostly fades into the background, to be fair), and the 100% completion drive is a little irritating, as it means that to complete the game fully (which I haven’t done yet, technically) you have to play every level three times: first on story mode to unlock everything, then on free play mode to get the hidden minikits, and then on challenge mode, which is a time trial. Then there are enough bonus levels and so on to keep you going for months. I don’t think I have the energy.

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