LSW: TSS Play Through – The Phantom Menace

We’ve put down our stud separator and picked up a video game controller, because we’re starting our nine-part play through of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga from where it all began – The Phantom Menace!

Plots and intrigue
are afoot as the Jedi Order
gets drawn into the machinations
of a mysterious power that is rising in the galaxy.

Negotiations

Sent to Naboo to help settle a trade dispute, Jedi ambassadors Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi attempt to meet with the Trade Federation leadership aboard their command ship, the Vuutun Palaa. Expecting to engage in cordial discussions, the Jedi are both taken aback when they’re ambushed.

Hints & Thoughts

  • TC-14 is patient and won’t hurry you as you smash apart the ship for studs.
  • Simple tutorials pop up and provide clues on what to do next.
  • Inactive characters can take part in combat but they aren’t super effective.
  • They can also receive damage, though this doesn’t have any affect on the game until the player swaps to them.
  • The map’s layout is a grid and easy to follow, so beginners won’t get lost.
  • Burning through the door with your lightsaber is quicker if you cut a small hole.

Eventually emerging in the hanger where the Trade Federation is marshaling their troops, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan stow away on an MTT so they can get down to Naboo’s surface.

Warn the Naboo

Finding themselves on the far side of the planet and in the middle of a thick forest, Qui-Gon enlists the aide of a native – Jar-Jar Binks – to help lead them to the capital. Unfortunately, they’ve taken on the least popular pathfinder on the planet.

Hints & Thoughts

  • The forest setting establishes that the texturing and rendering is not the same as the other LEGO Star Wars video games.
  • The detailed environment is easy to get distracted by so learn to follow the golden arrow.
  • There’s a glitch at the lake so walk into the water to the left of Jar-Jar to continue on.
  • There are no missions in this level; it’s just a transition stage.

Diving under the waters of Lake Paonga, Jar-Jar leads the two Jedi to the submarine city where the rest of the Gungan people – as well as their Boss – live, out of sight of the human surface dwellers.

Otoh Gunga

Deep below the lake’s surface, the bubble-like city of Otoh Gunga is where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan – escorted by Captain Tarpals – have to plead with the leader of the Gungans for help to get their warning to the Naboo on the far side of the planet.

Hints & Thoughts

  • Despite being underwater, Otoh Gunga has a very airy vibe to it, and enjoys the same feel as Rivendell did in the LEGO Lord of the Rings video game, also produced by Tt Games.
  • The map is too expansive to be explored during this visit, so expect to come back to fully enjoy the city.
  • Don’t worry about falling off the edge of the ramps because they have invisible handrails (but you can jump off them).
  • There are no missions in this level; it’s just a transition stage.

Not wanting to get directly involved, but unwilling to let the invasion go un-noted, Boss Nass gives the go-ahead to loan the Jedi a bongo submersible, as long as Jar-Jar (who was banished from the city only a week before) continues to guide them.

A Bigger Fish

Traveling through the planet’s watery planetary core, a dark and cavernous region full of ravenous sea beasts, the sluggish bongo is a target for the hungry opee sea killers, colo claw fish and the even larger sando aqua monsters.

Hints & Thoughts

  • Piloting the bongo while looking backwards to keep an eye out for predators is tough to learn.
  • As is managing the dual control of the bongo’s steering and aiming systems.
  • Even tougher is spotting the minikits in time to serve over far enough on the clunky rail system.
  • It’s very easy to get disorientated in the city of Theed so get used to keeping an eye on the golden arrow as you follow your nose around the map.
  • You can use the map and set up waypoints to help give you prompts.

Having survived the journey, the hyphenated trio surface next to the Royal Palace’s boathouse. Unfortunately, the boathouse isn’t palace-adjacent, so the party has to hotfoot it through Theed, occasionally bumping into battle droid patrols.

A Royal Palace

Having arrived at Theed, where the Queen Amidala lives, the Jedi duo, along with Jar-Jar, find that the city’s inhabitants are panicked by the arrival of the Trade Federation army, who are seeking the Queen of Naboo to take her to their leaders as a hostage to force the planet to accept their terms of surrender.

Hints & Thoughts

  • Interacting with the non-player characters is often entertaining and can reveal rumors that give light-hearted side quests.
  • Force powers are given a whole new attribute, with the ability to panic, influence, and distract NPCs.
  • There are no missions in this level; it’s just a transition stage.

Before the Jedi can make it to the Royal Palace to protect Amidala from the invaders, they discover that she is already under armed guard and being taken to a Trade Federation shuttle. After defeating her captors, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, along with Captain Panaka, must get the Queen to the palace’s hanger, where her Royal Naboo Starship is waiting to whisk her to safety.

Transport to Coruscant

With their sights set on the far away hanger, the Jedi must escort their Royal charges to safety, avoiding the occasional lightly-armed battle droid patrol. Amidala leads the way, protected by her trusted companion Captain Panaka and a faithful handmaiden.

Hints & Thoughts

  • There’s no time limit in this mission so you can take your time to hunt down minikits and solve challenges.
  • Amidala sets her own pace and will wait for you if you go exploring or stud hunting.

With everyone safely on board the Queen’s personal starship, a harrowing escape from Naboo takes Queen Amidala to the seat of power in the Republic, where she seeks the advice of her planet’s representative, Senator Palpatine.

The Leaky Hyperdrive

Damaged during the exodus from Naboo, the Queen’s sleek Nubian starship isn’t able to get to Coruscant, and so – on the advice of Obi-Wan and the approval of Qui-Gon – Captain Olie diverts the ship to the remote world of Tatooine where, it is hoped, their presence won’t be noted. Arriving in the spaceport town of Mos Espa, Queen Amidala insists that her trusted handmaiden Padmé accompanies the Jedi on their quest to find the necessary parts to fix the broken hyperdrive.

Hints & Thoughts

  • Mos Espa is a labyrinth of side alleys and cul-de-sacs, and the rendered graphics add to the flavor of the setting.
  • Plenty of opportunities to go stud hunting, and there are lots of kyber brick challenges to be completed.
  • Chat with the random denizens wandering around for extra challenges.
  • If you leave your character long enough, Padmé will put on her crown.
  • Because of Mos Espa’s warren-like layout, the glowing arrow doesn’t always make it clear where you need to go so look around for clues.
  • making use of the map tool is essential.
  • This location contains the first interior of the game.
  • There are no missions in this level; it’s just a transition stage.

Having found the necessary replacement part to get the hyperdrive working, Qui-Gon struggles to pay for it. Offered a chance to place a wager on an upcoming podrace, he puts his faith in Anakin Skywalker, a human child with suspiciously amplified reflexes.

Off to the Races!

With the Boonta Eve Classic podrace about to start, Qui-Gon and company head off to meet Anakin at te Grand Arena so they can enter him in the race.

Hints & Thoughts

  • This is another chance to explore Mos Espa and pick up some studs and kyber bricks.
  • Not every challenge is accessible and returning in free-play mode will give better access – especially to those aliens who don’t speak Basic.
  • There are no missions in this level; it’s just a transition stage.

Meeting the excited Anakin at the entrance to the arena means one thing – it’s time to race!

The Boonta Eve Classic

The annual Boonta Eve celebration, held by the Hutt Clan to commemorate the ascension of Boonta Hestilic Shad’ruu to godhood, is the single most important event on Tattooine and is marked by the biggest podrace of the year.

Hints & Thoughts

  • This level is a typical on-the-rails race (with some flexibility).
  • Probably the most challenging level of the game.
  • Use the first as a taster to learn the layout.
  • The second and third lap have extra hazards, and completing these as quickly as possible are key to winning the race.
  • Boost pads are linked to challenge rewards.
  • Like any good video game race, players who take shortcuts and find alternate routes get rewards.
  • Much improved from the original level in LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game.

Anakin’s success on the podrace track leads to more than just the replacement hyperdrive part, because the young Skywalker is freed from his life of slavery too. Heading off through Mos Espa, the group are anxious to get to Coruscant to warn the senate of the Trade Federation’s attack on Naboo.

To The Senate!

All is not sunshine and lollipops though because, on the way back to the Royal Naboo Starship, Qui-Gon is attacked by a hooded assailant wielding a lightsaber. Fearing that Anakin is the target, Qui-Gon urges the boy to flee to the safety of the Queen’s starship which is readying to take off. Fending off the mystery attacker Qui-Gon barely makes it back to the ship in time.

Hints & Thoughts

  • With no initial dual between Qui-Gon and Darth Maul, this is the first missed opportunity of the game.
  • Exploring Coruscant is the most rewarding expansion so far.
  • The environment, with the Jedi Temple in the distance, is light and calm.
  • Every nook and cranny seems to have an Easter egg, side quest or some kind of silliness.
  • Jumping into the yellow cab is disconcerting when the rest of the characters don’t get in.
  • There are no missions in this level; it’s just a transition stage.

Finding their way to the Senate Building where Palpatine has his office, Amidala delivers her case to the sympathetic Senator, who manipulates the situation to his favor. Meanwhile at the Jedi Temple, Anakin is tested before the council and taken as a Padawan learner by Qui-Gon.

New Allies

Determined to resolve the blockade of the planet and drive off the Trade Federation, Amidala – along with Qui-Gon and his Jedi juniors – return to Naboo to petition Boss Nass for his help, but when they arrive they find Otoh Gunga abandoned.

Hints & Thoughts

  • Thankfully the journey from Theed to Otoh Gunga doesn’t rely on the gameplay as A Bigger Fish.
  • Follow the golden arrow through Otoh Gunga to the throne room and then back up to the surface to repeat the swamp section from Negotiations and through to the Sacred Place.
  • The brick-built crates scattered around Otoh Gunga are great for stud plunder.
  • This level features the first Force build.

With truth about Padmé Amidala’s true identity – revealed in a hysterical “I am Spartacus!” parody – and Gungan’s allegiance secured, all but one obstacle is out of the way.

Better Call Maul

Having left the Gungans to get their army ready, the next phase of Padmé’s plan can be executed, with the Jedi and Naboo returning to Theed. There they are confronted by the mysterious, cloaked, lightsaber-wielding assailant from Tatooine who Qui-Gon immediately assesses as a Sith Lord.

Hints & Thoughts

  • Multiple-move attack sequences are complicated and will likely overwhelm an AFOL gamer.
  • Standard hack and slash will see you through.
  • Jedi vs Sith combat is interspersed with waves of battle droids and droidekas.
  • Final face-off is fought by both Jedi, which the player swaps between.
  • Far better gameplay than LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game and puzzles make it more entertaining than expected.
  • The final outcome is inevitable with two becoming one, and one becoming two. The homage to the Tis But A Scratch gag is a nice touch.

Even though the Sith Lord has been defeated the battle to drive off the Trade Federation is far from over – and in some places hasn’t even begun yet.

Preparation

Back in the Lianorm Swamp, the Gungans are getting their armies ready for the distraction that will draw the Trade Federation away from Theed, but an unwilling faamba is blocking the route to the plains where their army is gathering.

Hints & Thoughts

  • A trivial puzzle that can be solved easily.
  • There are a couple of kyber bricks to be found.

Once the belligerent beast has been moved on – leaving a biodegradable deposit in its wake – the war party can continue on their way.

Outmanned But Not Out Gungan-ed

Massed on the great grass plains to the south-east of Theed, the army of the Gungan people – protected by shield generators to protect them from artillery – wait for the battle droids of the Trade Federation to begin their attack. Before the main assault begins the battle droids probe the Gungan’s perimeter, looking for a weak spot, but Captain Tarpals and Jar-Jar are on hand to command the Gungan forces.

Hints & Thoughts

  • The first stage of this level is to fight off small groups of battle droids who sneak through the shield.
  • The catapults have no projectiles so you’ll need to gather up some boomas.
  • Launch the boomas at the AATs, and the battle droids as they march on the Gungan army.
  • Very fun stage – particularly the last challenge, which is inventful and satisfying.

Eventually overwhelmed when the shield fall, the Gungan army is forced to surrender. Defeat is not on the cards though, because while the ground war might be over, a space battle is about to begin.

Battle of Naboo

Left in the relative safety of an N-1 starfighter’s cockpit while Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan battle Darth Maul, Anakin is shocked to find that his shelter blasts off and carries him into orbit, where the rest of Naboo’s space corps are engaged in dogfights with vulture droids.

Hints & Thoughts

  • You can get used to the combat controls in some free-play,
  • There are no missions in this level; it’s just a transition stage.

Heading further out into space, Anakin realizes that the space battle isn’t going well, and along with R2, heads towards where the laser beams are brightest.

Now This Is Podracing

With the vulture droids destroyed the last stage of Padmé’s plan to free Naboo of the Trade Federation invasion force can begin. An assault on the droid command ships that orbit the planet is key to finally defeating the battle droids that control the surface.

Hints & Thoughts

  • Destroying the cannons and communications dishes is essential.
  • More squadrons of vulture droids need to be shot down.
  • The flight through the command ship’s interior will have you ducking.
  • The last stage is an unsatisfying turkey shoot.

The destruction of the Trade Federation battleship and the disabling of the droid army means that the allied forces of the Gungan and Naboo can finally celebrate the end of hostilities and their continued cooperation.

Is that the end of the story? Will the peace hold or is the galaxy poised for even more turmoil? What will become of young Anakin, who is now Obi-Wan’s trainee, and was the Sith lord killed the master or the apprentice?

Only the next chapter in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has the answers

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