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March 2005

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This chapter is from the book

LEGO Star Wars: Even Jar-Jar Is Cool in Block Form

Genre: Parent/Child Bonding with The Force Publisher: Eidos/Giant Interactive Developer: Traveller’s Tales Platform: PC, Xbox, PS2, GBA Metacritic Metascore: 77

Although games like Grand Theft Auto are not ideal for co-op missions with your six-year-old, LEGO Star Wars is the ultimate parent/child gaming experience.

My daughter is four years old, and it should come as no surprise that she likes to play games; after all, dear old dad makes a living playing and writing about these little technological wonders, so it’s only natural that she be interested in them, too. I don’t just mean stuff like Pooh Bear’s Grand Adventure. She absolutely loves to zip through New York in Spider-Man 2, and she even "designed" my hero in City of Heroes (a 7-foot Amazon named Frostmane who looks like Dr. Doom; don’t tell Marvel). Unfortunately, it’s hard to find games that we can play together and that we can both enjoy at the same time. Enter LEGO Star Wars.

Why LEGO and Star Wars Works

LEGO Star Wars was designed with co-operative play in mind, as long as you have multiple controllers. Sure, you can play it solo, but it’s much, much better when playing with a friend. Simply press the Start button and the second controller is activated—off you go.

The game starts with Episode I: The Phantom Menace and ends with Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The game plays out most of the major scenes from each of the new films. (Let’s hope for a sequel based on the classic trilogy!) All the characters are there in cute LEGO format, from Obi-Wan and Yoda to the twin-bladed Darth Maul, and each has unique special powers and are wonderfully animated.

There’s no blood (after all, we’re talking LEGOs here), it’s not terribly difficult, and you never really die when you lose all of your health; instead, you just lose most of your earned token money, making it ideal for a younger gamer. You get to buy special power-ups, unlock special characters (around 50 in all), and relive the best scenes from the movies without the complexity of some of today’s more adult-oriented software.

A quick look at the Metacritic score shows that LEGO Star Wars got some mixed reviews on its release and that’s fair. The camera angles can be very frustrating at times, and there are some pretty tough jumping puzzles later in the game (you’ll want to help out your youngster with some of these, unless they’re especially gifted with a gamepad) and the pod race in Episode I is as excruciating as sitting through the film version. In addition, you need to understand that this is a platform/action game at heart; so, if you despise those kinds of games, the fact that this is Star Wars won’t matter.

Despite the complaints, parents are always on the lookout for video games to play with their kids, and this is the ideal game to introduce a child to the wonderful world of video games. The best part: You’ll have just as much fun.

Aspyr released a Mac port of LEGO Star Wars in August of 2005. You can buy it at Amazon.com.

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