Looking Back At LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy – The Most Highly Regarded Game To Date

Following the runaway success of LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game with its six million sales, it was inevitable that a sequel game would follow – and, naturally, it would cover the movies of the Original Trilogy.

Officially revealed on February 10, 2006 at the International Toy Fair in New York, the game’s existence had already leaked when the official Xbox Magazine, which had a double-page poster in their early February 2006 issue, reached subscribers before the trailer and official press announcement.

Developed by Traveller’s Tales and published by LucasArts and TT Games Publishing, the computer and console versions reached video game store shelves on September 12th, 2006 – a date that coincided with the highly-anticipated DVDs of the original, unaltered films of the original trilogy.

The day one release was for Windows, Microsoft XBox and 360, Playstation 2 and Portable, Nintendo Gamecube, DS and Gameboy Advanced followed by the Mac version (published by Feral Interactive) on May 4th 2007. A Java-based cell phone version (developed by Universomo and published by THQ) was released on December 19th 2006 – a whole three months before the Java version of the original LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game!

Incorporating scenes and locations from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the primary version came with 18 levels; six for each of the three original Star Wars episodes, with gameplay that closely followed the plot and action sequences of each movie. Just as with the first LEGO Star Wars video game, completing all of the A New Hope levels unlocked The Empire Strikes Back, which – in turn – opened up the Return of the Jedi for play.

Each of the levels, which were rendered in the highest spec 3D graphics of the day, held numerous brick-built features that served as puzzles that opened up new areas of the map, provided power-ups and new characters – all the while preventing the gameplay from becoming linear.

This new game expanded the number of characters to 114 playable characters, with 68 of them unlocked through gameplay or by using studs to buy them at the game’s central hub. The remainder were unlocked as a reward for transfering a saved game from LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game. 

Carried over from LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game was the central hub: Mos Eisley Cantina, the spaceport bar on the planet Tatooine. At the bar the player could spend the studs (the in-game currency) collected through the game to buy characters, vehicles, gameplay hints and cheat codes.

In addition to collecting studs and finding new playable characters (who had special skills that increased the player’s chance of completing the game), rewards were hidden throughout the game. Rewards include a collection of virtual minikits of vehicles found in each level. Once the vehicle was complete the player was awarded a Gold brick. Gold bricks are also awarded upon completion of a level and a certain number of Gold bricks unlocks free rewards.

As with many game releases, handheld versions of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy were ported over to cater for handheld gamers.

Though it had a few minor differences to meet the specifications of the mobile format, the Playstation Portable version of the game remained largely the same as the console versions. However, the Game Boy Advance version was massively altered with only 36 playable characters (but does feature exclusive characters Baby Rancor, R2-Q5 and K-3PO), the reward system is tweaked and level progress is altered. Similarly the Nintendo DS conversion was massively altered, with only 50 playable characters (including format-exclusive Salacious Crumb, Wuher, K-3PO, Zuckuss, and the four members of the Bith band), altered levels and enough glitches and bugs to fill a pre-social media discussion forum. It did sport a unique four-person multiplayer mode with a choice to fight over Han Solo in Carbonite set in Jabba’s Palace or in a Tatooine themed arena.

Differing significantly to all of the other renditions of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy was the awkwardly titled LEGO Star Wars II Mobile. With its 2D overhead perspective, it only offered 18 levels of gameplay – all set during A New Hope – that centered on rescuing Princess Leia and getting to the Millennium Falcon.

In the eighteen months between releases, the initially bizarre concept of playing as a LEGO minifigure, flying in a LEGO ship in a LEGO brick-built world was now normal so the game was not as innovative as the original release but by following the same formula, the game simply could not fail.

LEGO Star Wars II is a great entry-level title for young Star Wars fans looking to expand their portable videogame horizons. Its violence is never scary, its humor is always funny, and its gameplay is always fun. Sure it’s easy and simple — and it does get hit by the repetition bug now and again — but the bottom line is that it’s a heck of a lot of fun and has a great amount of lasting appeal beyond a single play-through. Best family game this year? Probably so.

Source: IGN

In its opening week, LEGO Star Wars II sold over 1.1 million copies, went on to be the third best-selling video game in 2006, was awarded accolades from Reader’s Digest, Nick Jr, Time Magazine, GameSpy Spike TV and four BAFTA nominations, and three years after its release had sold over 8 million copies.

In many ways the game was a paradox, because – despite staggering sales figures the game (and its prequel) was made completely redundant less than a year and three months later when LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, the compilation release that combined LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game and LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, hit shelves.

Nostalgia aside, the question of whether the game holds up today is worth considering. Certainly, the easiest way to play LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy would be to dig out an old gaming console, plug it into a period CRT television, dust off an original copy of the game, sit back and enjoy.

Getting the game to load these days is not as straightforward as you’d expect. A few hoops need to be jumped through to play the Windows version on a modern PC, and to get it to play on a modern macOS-enabled computer is impossible. While the original Playstation 2, GameCube and original Xbox games will work on many modern flat-screen (with some investment in cable adapters to get the correct input), the graphics are a let-down and those gamers used to Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X quality gaming will be disappointed. 

Thankfully this game was also released on the XBox 360 and can easily be played on a HDMI enabled high-def flat screen television. There is another added bonus feature of this version – more of which in a moment.

For those not lucky enough to have a retro gaming center, the easiest route to LEGO Star Wars minifigure mayhem is using built-in backward compatibility; the XBox version also plays on the XBox 360, the Playstation 2 version plays on the early Playstation 3 models and the Nintendo GameCube version plays on the Nintendo Wii.

Best of all, the XBox 360 version is backwards compatible with both the XBox One and the XBox Series X meaning that it works on all currently available consoles.

An alternate way is to enjoy the game is on an emulator, which can be run on either a computer or a console. As well as playing the games, many emulators will have better functionality over the original hardware, higher display resolutions via upscaling, improved widescreen functionality and faster framerates.

The truth is that following LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game – the game that launched a dynasty – the sequel simply could not fail. It followed the already-proven-successful template of storyline/gameplay/puzzle-solving/combat action while keeping true to both the LEGO aesthetic and the Star Wars (largely) canon intact giving people exactly what they wanted.

Being so successful had its price, and when time came to produce another LEGO Star Wars video game the powers that be opted to combine the first and second games into LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, a title that came out a mere 428 after the release of LEGO Star Wars II.

While this game slowed down sales it didn’t totally kill demand, and the second installment in the LEGO Star Wars video game franchise went platinum on the Xbox and Playstation 2. Even today gamers still seek out copies of the Xbox 360 version.

It is impossible to say why the sales were so high in such a short space of time. Could it be that being released on more consoles and handhelds made the difference or was it a preference of the Original Trilogy content compared to the previous Prequel Trilogy content?

Entertainment Earth

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