Review Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (3DS)

Judge me by my size, do you?

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 08/12/2016 12:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Better than its console inspiration; terrific sound; handheld exclusive features that take advantage of the format; Space Invaders!
Poison Mushroom for...
Multi-Builds system doesn't offer enough; singular focus on one movie

From the start, the handheld Lego titles have struggled to find a distinctive voice from their console counterparts. Earlier titles attempted to act as side games, while more recent titles have focused their efforts on condensing the same experience offered by the console versions. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is easily the best Lego title to land on 3DS, delivering an experience that’s faithful to the console title, while also offering up a few strong exclusives.

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens on 3DS is an impressive recreation of the game currently available on Wii U. For the most part, this is the same game with a couple of minor alterations. The console version begins with the Battle of Endor, but the 3DS iteration instead jumps straight into the material from The Force Awakens (the Endor levels instead are offered as a bonus area). A handful of playable characters from the console title are missing from this version, but most players likely won’t notice: both games have a ludicrous amount of playable characters, and only the most devout Star Wars fans will really miss those exclusions.

The most notable difference between the console and handheld versions of Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the way levels are broken down. The handheld version predominantly offers the same levels, but breaks them down into more manageable chunks, with each console level equating to roughly three handheld levels. This was likely done to make the game more easily portable, but the result is more preferable in general. Levels in the console version tend to take a long time to complete, and it also makes it less enticing to revisit levels in search of unlockable characters and other bonuses. In the past, developer TT Fusion cut critical content from the console versions of the game when porting it to the handheld format, and the results hurt the flow of the game and story. In the case of The Force Awakens, some levels from the console version have been excluded but, in most cases, the exclusions are welcome, and some levels have actually gotten additional content. There’s a real sense that the developer has learned from their past mistakes, and used the strengths of the format to their advantage.

Impressively enough, The Force Awakens manages to feel equal to its console counterparts while also having its own identity. The 3DS version offers two unique throwbacks to classic arcade titles: a Space Invaders minigame featuring X-Wings and Tie Fighters, and a loading screen inspired by the classic Star Wars arcade game. The former is playable at any time, which is a great distraction, particularly when taken on the road. These additions are minor, but their inclusion helps make the game feel less like an afterthought to the console versions, which is refreshing.

Like the console offering, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens on 3DS offers a handful of new additions to help give the title some much-needed variety. The addition of new blaster combat segments and the game’s handful of flight levels really help to break up the pace of the traditional format of Lego games. Blaster combat segments take a page from more action-oriented games, with player characters using cover, and getting their shots in when the opportunity presents itself. The flight levels are a real highlight. They don’t quite offer the same depth as Star Wars: Rogue Leader, but they still play impressively enough that a Lego Star Wars game primarily focused on flight levels would be more than welcome.

Unfortunately, the new multi-builds system is an idea that works well, but screams for stronger implementation. The new addition makes puzzles a bit more complex, but it seems like an idea that needed to cook more. For the most part, multi-builds options end up as steps in a larger puzzle. The majority of the multi-builds options revolve around building one creation to accomplish a part of the puzzle, then smashing the creation to rebuild it as something else to finish the puzzle. It’s a logical extension of the brand, but it felt like the developer played the option far too safely. It would have been nice to see crazier multi-builds options that diverged from one another, offering truly unique experiences that make the player want to revisit the levels multiple times. It’s an encouraging addition, provided future Lego titles properly expand on it.

While the new gameplay additions are quite welcome, the biggest improvement to the title is the voice acting. Both Lego Jurassic World and Lego Marvel’s Avengers predominantly featured voice samples from the original films, with a handful of actors supplying new lines. Unfortunately, that often resulted in abrupt cutoffs to the dialogue and some awkward alterations. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens goes all-in, with brand-new dialogue supplied by the principle cast of the film. It’s unbelievable that WB Games was able to lock in actors like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher to supply so much new dialogue, but it’s there, and it’s wonderful. As a result, the game sounds better than any previous Lego title.

In the past, handheld Lego games have felt like inferior versions of their console counterparts. The plot of Lego Jurassic World, for example, glaringly left scenes from the film on the cutting room floor. Not only does Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens buck that trend, it delivers an experience that, at times, is preferable to the console version. With level breakdowns that make the long console levels more manageable, strong use of 3D, and some creative additions, the 3DS version of The Force Awakens delivers in a way that just barely edges out its console brethren. It doesn’t offer the same DLC or multiplayer options as the Wii U version, but the trade-off feels more than worth it. Regardless, the 3DS version is an effort that shows a development team determined to offer their audience an enjoyable experience. The results are commendable.

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