I’m one of the lucky ones – I was a kid when the original Star Wars trilogy came out, so I like the Star Wars movies that it’s okay to appreciate. Like so many boys of my age I wanted to fly an X-Wing or a snowspeeder, bringing down the Empire one AT-AT at a time. I got really good at making bad light sabre noises. It took me a long time to see anything other than A New Hope, because my parents were decidedly uninterested in anything sci-fi or fantasy; I still haven’t completely forgiven them for taping over the original movie the day after we got the Betamax tape from my uncle, recorded from ITV. By the time I watched Return of the Jedi, I still thought that TIE Fighters, Death Stars and raspy-breathed evil space samurai were cool, but Ewoks were just overgrown teddy bears.
I remember the original teaser for The Phantom Menace giving me goosebumps at the cinema. This wasn’t just nostalgia, it was nostalgia distilled, and then the distillation distilled again. It was all the best things from my childhood without the stuff I’d worked hard to forget or repress. It was Star Wars, for crying out loud.
Well, we all know what happened when the prequels came out and millions of nerd voices suddenly cried out in dismay. Let’s face it, though, Teddy Bear’s Picnic should have prepared us for Jar Jar & Co. In any case, if I wanted to write about the disappointment of the prequels, I’d be even more ludicrously late than I am with most of my blog posts.
What I really want to write about is this: that fine distillation of childhood with all its best bits left in exists. And next to Rock Band, it’s the best fun I’ve had with any video game playing with my girlfriend.
Lego Star Wars gets the appeal of Star Wars: its universe is a playground for overgrown kids – but while it’s childlike, it isn’t childish. It isn’t embarrassing the way the Gungans are in Episode 1, nor does it take itself as seriously as the worst moments of Episodes 2 and 3. The trials of Anakin are more relatable when he’s a mute toy figure… and the “I am your father” moment in Lego is simply perfect.
The Lego series of games extended to other fictional universes after covering the Star Wars movies in bric-a-brac glory: there’s Lego Batman, Lego Harry Potter, two Lego Indiana Jones titles… and Lego Pirates of the Caribbean is in the works. The games are all basically the same, with small variations in the designs – but for someone who grew up trying to imitate the roar of an Imperial fighter screaming past your cockpit, it’s the Star Wars game that carry a special magic. And sitting on the sofa, teaming up with my girl to dismantle the Empire brick by evil brick is bliss.
As is the ability to hit Jar Jar with an itty bitty light sabre. Again and again and again…