December 08, 2005

Games I Don't Get

by peterb

Lego Star Wars.

OK, so it's a postmodern fusion of the Star Wars movies with LEGO design sensibilities.

Alright. I can accept that.

Lego Star Wars

Oh, Lego Liam Neeson. How you entice me.

I can be a Hello-Kitty-style-Lego-Liam-Neeson, wandering around a ship waving a lightsaber. A Lego lightsaber.

I'm down with that.

Fun, lighthearted gameplay. Check. Generous savepoints and light-to-nonexistent penalties for death. Right up my alley.

But there's one game mechanic that is very, very odd, in terms of narrative. Just about every object in the game can be destroyed. When things blow up, they turn into money. You then use the money at the bar — it turns out that Lego Jedis are serious alcoholics, who knew — to buy upgrades and slaves.

So I can deal with being a Lego man. I can deal with being a Lego Liam Neeson. I can deal with being a cute little Lego Liam Neeson with a cute little Lego frowny face running around kicking ass with a lightsabre in his hand.

But I can't deal with being a cute little Lego Liam Neeson with a cute little Lego frowny face running around kicking ass with a lightsabre and trashing the place like I'm Keith Moon because I can take the twisted remains of the furniture and pawn them for cash. It turns out that that's where I draw the line.

Posted by peterb at December 8, 2005 09:19 PM | Bookmark This

C'mon, there's a long tradition of videogame heroes supporting their quests with various antisocial crimes.

You didn't complain when Link financed his campaign against Ganon through breaking and entering, petty larceny, and massive deforestation, did you?

And then there's Mario's raging drug habit.

It's a mess all the way through.

Posted by Nat Lanza at December 8, 2005 09:28 PM

To be fair, I did unlock the Easter egg in Riddick where you can win the game by having Riddick be a punk for the gang leader and buy equipment by performing sexual favors. But I figured that was more of a political statement.

Posted by peterb at December 8, 2005 09:35 PM

Hi. Shadow Hearts, gay porn. GAY PORN.

Posted by psu at December 8, 2005 09:42 PM

That's why I always switched to LEGO Darth Maul in the diner. After all, you expect dark Jedi to trash the place.

Posted by CorvusE at December 8, 2005 09:59 PM

You have to admit though, for a game that is ridiculously simplistic, it really does remain quite entertaining...

Posted by Luke Lagwalker at December 9, 2005 02:08 AM

This is a game designed for small children to play with their parents (most likely, small boy with father). As such, I believe it's unique. Don't be too harsh on its lack of sophistication - they're not courting a sophisticated audience! :) I have much more bile for the butchering of the Star Wars license in more adult titles than the playful anarchy of this game.

Posted by Chris at December 9, 2005 02:32 AM

For me, it wasn't until I played Amidala on the Naboo level when I realised just how much stuff you blew up. On that level she seems almost gleefully distructive.

Like a child with a hammer...

Posted by Paul Herzberg at December 9, 2005 05:11 AM

It's the same as corpse-looting, burglary, and aggravated assault in ANY heroic RPG you care to mention, really. I grew tired of it some while ago; rewarding you for non-heroic actions seems kind of silly.

The weirder one would be something like Condemned, in which you get framed for a murder you did not commit, and have to prove your innocence. The fact that, by the time you get framed, you've ALREADY butchered your way through tens if not hundreds of criminal suspects is apparently not a big deal.

Posted by Andy P at December 9, 2005 06:54 AM


I've been thinking about that issue for a while, and have an article about it sketched out in the back of my mind. You can see this in KOTOR and Jade Empire, where it's almost a pro-forma activity -- walk into an area, loot a few chests (or a corpse) for 3 pieces of gold or a worthless trinket, go on to the activities that are actually, y'know, fun.

It really is a game mechanic that feels like it is dialed in from home: no one anywhere thinks it's a good idea, but everyone is too lazy to think of a better way to get you familiarized with the area.

Posted by peterb at December 9, 2005 08:25 AM

I guess I try not to worry about this sort of thing. The game tells me to collect shiny bolts, so I do it.

This is like the creates in Half-Life or the shops that can follow you to the end of a space-time warp in your average J-RPG.

Conventions are hard to break out of. But with luck things improve slowly.

Posted by psu at December 9, 2005 09:22 AM

Alas, I am incapable of finding fault with this game, because:
1) It's Star Wars
2) It's Lego
3) It's easy to get into

This game had me hooked in the first 30 seconds, and now whatever faults this game has, I truly cannot acknoweldge them, because to do so would shatter my worldview.

Posted by Tice with a J at December 10, 2005 01:37 AM

I watched (WATCHED) my son play this game for double digits of hours. I think my capacity to suspend disbilief is greater than most folks, my line is somewhere just this side of the film "Broken Arrow". This brings up a couple of metrics seldom if ever used in game reviews - suspension of disbelief required and watchability by 3rd party, in hours or something.

Posted by Tim F at December 10, 2005 05:46 PM

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