In Pieces, You Will Be
Funny thing about video games: for the most part, they just aren't very funny. In fact, many of the most popular games are virtually laugh free. But exceptions do exist - like LucasArts' and TT Games' tongue-in-cheek look at your favorite galaxy far, far away in LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. Build, battle and laugh your way through the events of pop culture's most influential films this September 12 across eight platforms.
So, just what is it about LEGO Star Wars II that tickles your funny bone? "There are lots of things," says David Perkinson, producer at LucasArts. "But I think it all begins with the characters. Unless you've got the heart of the Emperor, you are going to chuckle at many of them the first time you see them - you just have to. They're so darn cute!"
"I think even if you played it as straight as you possibly could, the very appearance of the LEGO characters would still add an element of humor to it," agrees Will Thompson, character artist at developer Traveller's Tales. "It's just so funny watching these cute little characters battling it out with each other in such dramatic situations. By far, my favorite example of this is every part featuring the romantic
scenes between Han and Leia - it's hilarious watching their relationship blossom in LEGO form."
"There are plenty of funny cutscenes like those that'll have you rolling, and one of my favorites is one of the very last that Traveller's Tales included," says Jeffrey Gullett, assistant producer at LucasArts. "Remember Luke's acrobatics in Return of the Jedi when he jumps off the plank, grabs it and somersaults onto the skiff? Like many memorable scenes, we have that one, but with a clever twist. In this
case, Luke doesn't just do a superhuman somersault - he performs an all-out acrobatic routine with all sorts of jumps from the plank. It's hilarious."
But Perkinson only sees the cutscenes as part of a much bigger equation to gaming hilarity. "Remember, there's an actual game here to play, too," he says, "and along with an immense amount of depth and replayability, the comedic elements play an integral role in elevating LEGO Star Wars II past your typical action-platformer. As funny as the cutscenes are, I think one of the greatest things that Traveller's Tales has pulled off is that you're actually laughing during gameplay as well. No matter how many times I rip a stormtroopers arms out of its sockets or swat a Gamorrean guard as if to say 'oh no, you didn't!' as slave Leia, it never gets old."
"And speaking of Gamorrean guards," adds Gullett, "getting them to rock out in Jabba's Palace serves the double purpose of distracting some of the game's most powerful enemies while also providing one of the biggest laughs in the game. You know how electric guitars are also known as an 'ax'? Well, let's just say those pig guards take that idea pretty literally..."
Also adding to the fun is one of LEGO Star Wars II's most interesting new features, the Character Customizer. You can unlock more than 60 playable characters throughout the course of the game, with new character parts - heads, torsos, midsections, legs, arms, hands and weapons - available in this device as you make each character available. Mix and match the pieces as you would with actual LEGO minifigures to create the likes of Darth Threepio, Stormbacca or Ewok Organa - there are literally millions and millions of possibilities! Then, take your character into Free Play with unique powers...and one of the most unique looks in the galaxy.
"Character customization was something we'd been looking at for a while," says Thompson. "There are lots of cool ideas like that which come very naturally from working with LEGO, but it was the team at Amaze Entertainment, working on the Nintendo DS version of the game, who worked up the customization concept for LEGO Star Wars II. The best thing about the Character Customizer is randomization, which gives you a completely different character than you've ever imagined with the touch of a button. You never know what you're going to get!"
"Yeah," says Perkinson. "With tongue-in-cheek humor everywhere you look (where else are you going to find stormtroopers lounging in a hot tub?) 'you never know what you're going to get' is pretty much the best way to sum up LEGO Star Wars II as a whole."
FINAL STORY: "Episode VI: Your Favorite Moments, LEGO Style!"
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