“When I get my two-disc DVDs of each individual movie the same day the game comes out, I’ll be using that scene select feature to go straight to the speeder bike chase,” says David Perkinson, producer at LucasArts. “At the time, those special effects were amazing – and to this day, it holds up as one of the fastest, most exciting sequences in movie history. And the developers at Traveller’s Tales sure didn’t let us down when it came to adapting that scene to game form.”
Found in the third of six Episode VI levels, Speeder Showdown is the only stage in LEGO Star Wars II to combine vehicle-only segments (in this case, zippy speeder bikes) with on-foot sections not unlike those found in the original game – except for one thing, that is. “You sure couldn’t blast away at stormtroopers after building and hopping into an AT-ST in LEGO Star Wars,” says Jeffrey Gullett, assistant producer at LucasArts. “That’s one of the many great additions Traveller’s Tales has included this time that make the new game so much better. Well, that and Gamorrean guards that start rocking out whenever you build a LEGO jukebox in Jabba’s Palace.”
“I don’t know,” adds Perkinson. “I always feel a little guilty taking those pigs to the slaughter while they’re saluting the gods of rock. Letting them attack – and they are one of the toughest non-boss characters, I’ll admit – and using Luke’s Force choke on them seems much more civilized to me.”
“I just love that whole Jabba’s Palace level in general,” says Gullett. “You’ve got such diversity in your party between Luke with his lightsaber and new Jedi powers, Chewie with his bowcaster, the droids and Leia in disguise, who can throw thermal detenators like the other bounty hunters in the game whenever she’s wearing her Boushh hat. Then at the end of the level you throw Han into the mix as the whole gang takes on the rancor. Well, the whole gang except for Leia…who’s now in her gold bikini as Jabba’s slave.”
Later on, Leia adds quite a bit of clothing as she joins Han, Chewbacca, the droids and Wicket the Ewok for the land section of the Battle of Endor. “It’s one of the longest levels in the game,” informs Gullett. “It takes you all the way from the Ewok village to the shield bunker, with plenty of scout troopers to blast, AT-STs to drive, and catapults to fire along the way.”
Your weapons get a little snazzier than catapults in the Emperor’s throne room, which presents an intriguing twist on the story depicted on screen 23 years ago. “This was one of those moments where we had to sit back and make a decision,” explains Perkinson. “Do you suddenly turn a two-player game into a one-player game for the sake of following the story exactly? Or do you deviate slightly for the sake of better gameplay? Since great gameplay is the most important thing for LEGO Star Wars II, we opted for the latter. As a result, you’ll see Vader revert to his Anakin-like ways a little earlier than in the movie, as he helps his son take down Palpatine in an epic lightsaber battle. We know this might bother some diehard fans out there, but we think once they play it, they’ll agree that we made the right decision.”
The game’s final level, Into the Death Star, didn’t involve such tough choices in development – it just provided the chance for developers such as Traveller’s Tales’ Will Thompson to reinterpret their favorite scene from Return of the Jedi in game form. “I can still remember seeing the space battle over Endor for the first time in the cinema – all those waves of TIE fighters screaming towards the camera – and jumping back in amazement!” enthuses the storyboard artist and character modeler. “It was a delightful challenge helping to bring this scene to playable fruition – but it had to be easier than using the screen-compositing methods they had to use in the ’80s! You certainly appreciate the time and effort it must have taken to create those elaborate space battles.”
And now that the game is complete, Perkinson appreciates something else entirely: “I’ve developed a new appreciation for Ewoks.”
This post originally appeared on Rebelscum.com on the 7th of September, 2006.
Fervent documentarian, effusive AFOL and founding partner, Jeremy manages the daily news content and set reviews.
Having enjoyed playing with LEGO from his earliest years, Jeremy started collecting LEGO Star Wars in 1999 when the theme was first released. He has shared his thoughts and opinions on LEGO via a number of websites – including starwars.com, rebelscum.com and brickset.com – contributed to the LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary series and served the LEGO Ambassador Network as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media representative.