Covering the genesis of the medium and running through to the first completion of the Saga, part one of our LEGO Star Wars: A Video Gaming History looked at the roots of the story and the first three titles to emerge from Traveller’s Tales.
The next chapter in the history of the LEGO Star Wars video game began when Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment purchased TT Games at the end of November 2007 for an undisclosed amount. At that point, the LEGO Star Wars video game titles had sold a combined 12 million copies worldwide, and promised to maintain TT Games’ existing relationships with LEGO and LucasArts.
The popularity of the games never abated and by 2009 the three LEGO Star Wars video games had sold a combined 20 million copies.
With the story of the Star Wars saga complete there were no more movies for TT Games to draw inspiration from, and so they turned to the small screen. By the time TT Games and LucasArts had released LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Lucasfilm had already aired one season of the animated The Clone Wars series and was beginning production on a second season.
When the press release (shared on February 9, 2010) announced the fourth title as LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars it also promised a delivery date of Fall that year.
LucasArts continues to set the bar for next-generation family entertainment,” said Darrell Rodriguez, president of LucasArts. “The LEGO Star Wars franchise is a massive hit with fans, bringing in sales of over 20 million units worldwide. We’re thrilled to extend this experience to LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, delivering the humor and fun players expect from this award winning franchise.
In order to cover off all the action-heavy plotlines in the second season without revealing any spoilers the game’s release was delayed so that the full run of The Clone Wars episodes could be broadcast. With work on this next Star Wars title stopped at TT Games so to was any promotion, leading hopeful fans to believe the game had been cancelled.
Work did resume after the completion of the second season and many elements of the show were incorporated into the game’s levels, but with TT Games being heavily embroiled in developing a number of LEGO Harry Potter video games, progressed on LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars slipped. By the time it was released for Nintendo DS/3DS/Wii, Sony Playstation 3/Playstation Portable, Windows PC and Microsoft Xbox 360) on March 22, 2011 (with a MacOS release, again published by Feral Interactive, on October 27, 2015) all but one episode of the third season of The Clone Wars had been broadcast, leaving fans feeling like they’d been short-changed.
The game starts, just as the Clone Wars did, at the Battle of Geonosis before taking the player through 20 levels (and two bonus levels) spread across 16 worlds as they hunt down Asajj Ventress, General Grievous and Count Dooku using the Republic and Separatist command ships Resolute and Invisible Hand as gameplay hubs.
Despite the delay, players did find it a big improvement, with upgrades like scene swapping where players switched between teams in separate locations to complete multi-part objectives, split-screen views when player’s characters moved apart from each other, attacks that featured combo moves and – for the first time – the addition of voiced dialogue proving to be popular. Additionally, with its core audience a nearly half a decade older, advanced gameplay elements such as boss fights, commanding ground armies on battlefields and more realistic 3D space combat were included (depending on the platform).
Having decided not to expand their LEGO Star Wars video game license with TT Games using material from The Clone Wars or Rebels animated series, LEGO opted to move into mobile phone gaming and for the next two years released two titles based on their own Star Wars properties.
Specifically chosen to support The Yoda Chronicles/The New Yoda Chronicles, an animated series that first ran from May to November 2013 on Cartoon Network (three episodes) and had a second series on Disney (four episodes) between May to November 2014, two free games were released via LEGO.com and the Apple app store to promote this original, canon-adjacent TV series and construction set subtheme developed by LEGO.
LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles closely followed the show’s first season storyline which centred around Yoda discovering that Count Dooku has converted Jek-14, a Force-sensitive clone trooper, to the Dark Side and is trying to create his own Force-enabled clone army. The game was originally launched with half of the 15 levels available for iOS on May 4, 2013, with the rest arriving through the course of the season’s TV schedule. Similarly the follow-up LEGO Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles, released on September 4, 2014 tied in with the show’s storyline that has Luke Skywalker searching, and then protecting holocrons, in an attempt to complete his Jedi training. Both apps were developed by Amuzo, a small British mobile gaming development company that had shown an aptitude for 3D rendered anamorphic characters and puzzle-based gaming aimed at children.
The next title to be released was LEGO Star Wars: Microfighters, co-developed by LEGO and TT Games, and published by LucasArts, it was intended to complement the LEGO Star Wars Microfighters subtheme of sets. Announced on January 24, 2014, the game was shared on LEGO.com and on Apple iOS and Android app stores for free on January 30 and April 14 respectively – a few weeks ahead of the release of the first series of Microfighters sets.
This top down scrolling shooter-em-up had players pilotting six LEGO Star Wars Microfighter vehicles across the 18 levels while collecting studs, avoiding enemies and eventually facing off against bosses. The game had an in-built economy that allowed studs to be spent on vehicle upgrades, weapon enhancement and damage repair. In July 2018 it was given a makeover for Android and Apple iOS with new Microfighter ships that reflected the Sequel Trilogy, new graphics and an entirely new gameplay that replaced the top down scrolling with a 3D drift racing game.
Initially teased by Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment on the first day of February 2016, the mysterious new game that involved “two of the world’s most popular entertainment brands” was soon blown open when the official Xbox site took this as a cue to add the game to its online catalogue a day eary. The official announcement came on on February 2, 2016 when the officialPlaystation channel on Youtube shared the announcment trailer: after a break of more than five years the next addition to the popular video game library would be LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens and would be the first LEGO Star Wars video game to be based on a single movie.
Digital marketing had evolved significantly since the release of LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars and the new game’s first gameplay reveal was quickly followed by a stream of level teases, character vignettes, demos – and the exciting news that a number of cast members had specially recorded new dialogue just for the game.
Keen to get in on the growing hype both Sony and Microsoft revealed a series of Playstation and Xbox packages that encouraged multiple purchases. With a multitude of exclusive add-ons, downloadable content and even a promotional minifigure that unlocked the character’s avatar (marking the first time LEGO itself had got involved in promoting the property), fans were rightfully put off, particularly by the fact that the game – which was based on a movie that was a source of division in the fan base – was coming out six months after The Force Awakens theatrical release.
Rather than the staggered release schedule that the previous four LEGO Star Wars video games had seen the game came out for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U, Sony Playstation 3/Playstation 4/Vita, Windows PC and Microsoft Xbox 360/Xbox One on 28 June 2016, and was followed by Android on July 27, 2016 and on MacOS X on June 30, 2016 by Feral Interactive.
After the game hit shelves the promotional content didn’t stop, and new downloadable character packs and add-on missions continued to be made available, based on what platform’s special package a player had purchased. The additional levels, eventually made available across all formats, were particularly important to the continuity of the Star Wars storyline as LEGO (with Warner and TT Games) were given license to fill in a number of small, but key, gaps in the storyline – and were declared canon by Lucasfilm.
Overall the game was well-received; the next generation of fans – now old enough to enjoy the movie but not so old that LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens< would be too childish – were far more embedded in console gaming than any earlier age group and TT Games had gone to great lengths to incorporate the rebooted Star Wars universe without making the game look, feel and play like it was a reboot of the previous titles.
Based loosely on The Freemaker Adventures, a LEGO original TV series that the told the story of a family of scrap merchants who accidentally get involved in the Galactic Civil War – next entry into fan’s digital collection was LEGO Star Wars: Force Builder; less a game than a semi-educational building tool, it allowed players to assemble spacecraft from a library of pre-selected parts (such as cores, wings, lasers and engines) and then take the spaceship through a railed test track. Successfully completing the course unlocked new parts, pilots and locations. Designed for children it didn’t have the catalogue that LEGO Digital Designer or Stud.io applications had so full virtual builds were not possible. Developed by Swedish-based digital design agency North Kingdom, it was released on April 6, 2016 and made available – for a limited time – for free on Android and Apple app stores.
The next big advance to the LEGO Star Wars video game line-up came at Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 during an interview with Matt Wood, who voiced General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith, The Clone Wars and several LEGO Star Wars mini-series. His accidental admission that “there’s a LEGO Star Wars game we’re working on…” was enough to get the ballrolling.
The approved announcement came at E3 in June 2019 when Warner Brothers released the official reveal trailer of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, and while it showed off the advanced graphics the game would sport, it didn’t include the full release date.
Since the first communique little more than a press release and sizzle reel has been shared, both titillating and enfuriating fans – and creating no end of speculation about the game’s unknown 2020 release date.
Promoted as compatible with Nintendo Switch, Sony Playstation 4, Windows PC and Microsoft Xbox, the game that promises to encapsulate the entirety of all nine core Star Wars movies will have the least amount of versions ever.
Waiting in the aisles for the eye of publicity to move on from LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is LEGO Star Wars: Battles, a next gen phone game being developed by Playdemic, the mobile game development division of TT Games.
First announced to the world on September 3, 2019, it was billed as a “real-time multiplayer PvP battles in arenas inspired by iconic locations” that promises to be an unlikely cross-over of Yoda Stories, Empire At War and the original LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game.
With the existing licensing agreement between Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment/TT Games and Disney/LucasArts not running out until 2022, and an extended Star Wars movie trilogy starting 2022 there’s no reason to believe that the LEGO Star Wars video games series will be coming to an end anytime soon. What are your thoughts? Head over to our LEGO Star Wars video game discussion and let us know your opinion.
This post originally appeared on Rebelscum.com on the 16th of April, 2020.
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.