There are some moments in gaming that cry out to be shared with an appreciative audience — taking out a crop of brain-munching zombies with a well-struck soccer ball in Dead Rising, for instance. Others, you'd probably rather keep under your backwards baseball cap — like furtively unleashing Princess Peach's frilly mood vibe on your Nintendo DS.
I had one such moment the other night, as my sometime-gamer spouse strolled through the den at the same moment as my l'il Lego Luke Skywalker successfully decapitated three Lego Stormtroopers in the same jump-flip combo move.
"What the hell are you playing?" she asked. "Star Wars?"
Not Star Wars — Lego Star Wars. In fact, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, a game that has no right to be as fun as it is.
I never get tired of noting the Force-sized irony that, after years of Star Wars videogames that stunk worse than Jabba in a pile of Banta poo, it took colored plastic blocks to make the original Star Wars story playable on my PS2. (Of course, this is the same company run by a guy who's convinced that the laserdisc transfers of his cinematic masterpiece somehow trump the originals, so maybe it's not so surprising after all.)
With Lego Star Wars II, the game's developers managed to blast us a path to not one, but two galaxies, far, far away: The incomparable one George Lucas first created for us back in the 1980s, and the one where we frittered away our childhoods, creating plastic universes with interlocking blocks. Since none of us had functional light sabers, blasters, and X-Wing fighters to blow those universes back into their block-tastic components back in the day, I can say with some confidence that the modern videogame version, where you can and must do just that, is a huge improvement.
For the sequel, the game's developers kindly gave us the parts of the Star Wars saga that, you know, people actually like. Given a choice between Lego Jar Jar float-jumping around like a floppy-eared Jerry Springer on Dancing With the Stars and separating stormtroopers' blocky heads in Lego Cloud City as Lego Lando Calrissian, I know which one I — and every self-respecting Star Wars geek in America — will be choosing.
Sure, anything with the word "Lego" in it screams "kids' game" in the same way that Elizabeth Hasselbeck screams "loony tune," right? But here's the thing: Lego Star Wars II is a kids' game in the same way that Disney's Aladdin was a kids' flick — i.e. only if you let yourself see it that way. The genius of revealing stormtroopers kickin' it in a hot tub ought to be enough to prove Lego Star Wars II's adult-gamer cred.
The Lego novelty factor probably won't last. By the time Batman, Harry Potter, and Spider-Man get the Lego videogame treatment — and since Lego is currently clutching the licenses like a poker rook holding an ace-high diamond straight, you can bet they will — the build-and-blast-the-blocks formula may have us talking about "plastic" in a far less complimentary way.
Until then, I'm more than content to revert to being a blockhead, even if it means I endure scoffs and arrows. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Lego Death Star to blow up. Again.