When I first heard about it LEGO Star Wars Battles, my preconceived idea was closer to cynicism than cautious optimism. However, I’m still on the hunt for more Star Wars, and while I haven’t played a game on my phone in a while, the SSD has a lot of space on it. So I was curious to take this game and unbox it as art. But on the art-to-toy spectrum of video games, it’s a lot closer to being an argument for games as consumables than as things artists put their hearts into, which is a shame, because a lot of artists have clearly worked really hard on it. . Still, creative decisions were made for aesthetics, mechanics, and where these components blend together. Even without the easy-to-read messages that accompany linear narratives, LEGO Star Wars Battles has an involuntary thesis, for better or for worse: the simplest and most exploitative game models are made more enticing by big brands and nostalgia.
The feather in the bonnet of LEGO Star Wars Battles is the adaptation of characters, objects and sets from Star Wars of four decades of canon. A narrative is not necessary for the game loop to be fun, and C3P0 is not voiced in the quick tutorial it provides when you start the game. What gives the game a voice is its voice. music, clippings from various scores of John Williams’ Star Wars that fluctuate with the tide of battle, as well as uplifting the player through the menus. Real-time strategy is based on dragging and dropping various characters onto a map in Supercell-like gameplay. Clash Royale– they walk, run, trample or fly towards the opponent’s base in the hope of reducing their empty life counter before the time runs out.
However, there are a few notable mechanical innovations. First, rather than starting with three towers that need to be sent, each player starts only with their base and can erect towers at five locations on the field that can be lost or recovered depending on the advancement of the player’s troops. It adds a frenetic nature and urgency to combat, as well as real momentum and weight. There is something very rewarding about being able to get Luke Skywalker and a herd of porgs across the terrain to install turrets in your opponent’s base so quickly that they can’t mount a successful assault. It really feels like a Mortal Kombat clear victory.
The player selects units or turrets from his cards, from his “hand”, from a randomly shuffled game. Champion units and special moves work thanks to a cooldown timer displayed in an ‘energy bar’ of LEGO light cells at the bottom of the screen that refill over time and refill twice as quickly towards the end of each two-minute game. As special attacks go on, Luke has excellent forward radial force push, while Vader has a surrounding force crush attack that could remind players KotOR 2 or the end of Revenge of the Sith. Other “special” units include the Ewok glider bombers and a rebel on a tauntaun. There are two victory conditions: either the player destroys his opponent’s base or, at the end of time, he has more turns (flame cannons only attack ground troops, while turbolasers can also fight air units). If players pass the two minute timer with the same number of turns intact, they go into Sudden Death, which is as exciting as it sounds.
Each battlefield map represents an expanse of land on an iconic Star Wars planet – everyone starts with Jakku from the force awakens before unlocking the forest moon of Endor from Return of the Jedi and planets like Naboo and Tatooine. Before each battle, players are assigned a coin toss on the loading screen on either the light side or the dark side. At the top of the screen, a general game tip is displayed and at the bottom a missive or quote representing that side is displayed. The Bright Side is made up of the Rebels, Resistance, Clone Troopers (ironically enough), and surprisingly effective porgs. The Dark Side is made up of Battle Droids, Empire, First Order, Boba Fett, and other bounty hunters and, for some ill-defined reason, the Tusken Raiders of Tattooine. It is not enough that they started out as wild “sand people” or were named retroactively for their resistance to the human expansionist colonization of Tattooine, they have to endure the added indignity of being the bad guys, despite their recent assault. The Mandalorian.
It is evident that careful work has gone into the design of miniatures, maps and planets. It is really pretty to watch; I just wish they would let me zoom in. Even after a recent press preview, when I played LEGO Star Wars Battles, I was still very impressed with the detail of the characters, the cleanliness of the textures which avoids being off-putting because it’s LEGO, and the way the towers fit together on the battlefield like a folding box automated. It is also very functional. The game runs smoothly. If you are looking for a tower-building PvP assault strategy game, you are itching. On the luck vs. strategy spectrum, it sits somewhere between chess and poker, and rightly includes both miniature characters with varying moves and attacking abilities on the one hand, and addiction to luck. of the draw on the other hand. As in both games, you can sometimes bait your opponent.
I didn’t have any lag issues and the C3P0 tutorial instructions are easy to understand in English or Spanish (I haven’t tried other languages). The jokes on the cards are also quite good, both witty and accessible to children. (On the tank clone trooper map, they joke that it should not be confused with the cloning tanks that the clone troopers come from. I didn’t chuckle, but I smiled.)
A problem with LEGO Star Wars Battles is that it’s a phone game that flirts with all the exploitation and addiction mechanics common in “freemium games”. These free and paid models often rely on enticing players to speed up the countdown to unlock characters or items by spending real money. These include games like Supercell’s Boom Beach, Clash of the clans, and the above Clash Royale, or the king candy Crush, who use their simple, repetitive and addicting game designs to mine cash from the handful of “whale” gamers who will invest thousands of real dollars for the endorphins rush of seeing tiny sprites explode.
And in case I sound like someone who looks up and down these games, I mean I enjoyed some of them very much. i played a lot of Clash of the clans in my day a decent amount of candy Crush, and even more time to play Two points (developed by independent developer Playdots, Inc. and published by Tencent). All of these things can be fun, but they are designed with slot machine mechanics and encourage you to part ways with real money.
LEGO Star Wars Battles has all of these built-in gameplay metrics that seem to exist to take your money, but it’s on Apple Arcade, so there aren’t any microtransactions. Apple already offers you a monthly subscription. So you have a fun and unnecessary game. You play to play, to participate in challenges, and to climb the leaderboard. It’s very “arcade” that way. The main game loop in battles to unlock figures that make you more efficient in battles is very easy to repeat.
Determining a successful strategy is engaging, all the currencies and unlocks are rewarding (you get so many rewards you get rewards for getting rewards), and it’s incredibly easy to get carried away for a few tens of minutes, maybe even a few hours. There is a leaderboard to follow, a “Seasons Path” with new free content coming up, and limited-time events to earn more in-game currency to purchase and upgrade in-game units.
What still intrigues me is its purpose; not only if he has an artistic thesis planned, but what a hole LEGO Star Wars Battles fills the market. TT Odyssey exists as a mobile game creation studio. Is there a segment of the population that has not yet played the Lego Star Wars console games, or watch the LEGO Star Wars Christmas Special who will do that after playing this game? Will it prove so little work versus profit in partnering with the Apple Arcade that TT Odyssey will be making PvP mobile versions of the other LEGO crossover series? Will TT Odyssey, contrary to what they said at the preview event, end up porting the game to Android and enjoying the microtransactions there?
The problem with licensed IP games is that they’re usually cynical cash grabbers. However, the real successes of this type of video game have been numerous, especially in the LEGO field. There hasn’t been a bad LEGO Star Wars game, and the transition from action-adventure genre to PvP arena combat is a success in the sense that it’s effective, incorporating the look and sounds that make LEGO Star Wars a winning combination.
It is acceptable that the creative vision of LEGO Star Wars Battles lies only in the development of something very pretty to look at, with the familiar cultural signifiers of Star wars, because art is worth making for itself, and many artists and craftspeople have worked to create something visually interesting. A player can just look at the game and think, “Uh, that’s pretty cool, what they did there. ”
Moreover, I have never played Clash Royale before LEGO Star Wars Battles, and now after playing both, I think this is the top model. It’s interesting for conflicting reasons. On the one hand, it has real mechanical innovations that make it more fun to play. On the other hand, these innovations are widely, if not exclusively, applicable because the game is based on reminding the player how much he enjoys things. LEGO Star Wars Battles is based on; all her fun comes from summoning better things, namely LEGO, Star Wars, and LEGO Star Wars console games.
Star Wars has a APEX Legends/Monitoring-type of game coming to Nintendo Switch and mobile. Star Wars had a major plot line for the last feature film that took place in Fortnite. Star Wars is more and more essential as a marketing brand and the market is saturated with Star Wars. Disney could be more selective with such a renowned brand, especially with Star Wars Visions showing that interesting things can still be done in its name, but it is obvious that there is more money to be made by diluting it. And sometimes that means redesigning a simple, repetitive type of game with bells and whistles that scream “STAR WARS!” In the end, you might want more, of the game, of the brand, of yourself.
Kevin Fox, Jr. is a writer, historian, nonprofit worker, and paste intern. He enjoys video games, pop culture, sports, and human rights, and can be found on Twitter @kevinfoxjr.