Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a game that is very close to my heart, and likely for many of you reading this. I have a plethora of great memories playing Lego Star Wars with friends and family in my early years, and just last March I 100% the game.
Overall, the game is really for kids, so many of the levels and enemies feel pretty stale and simple compared to games made for older audiences such as Halo or Doom 2016. I wouldn’t say it’s as much the fault of the game designers, as it is the result of the target audience. That being said, I wanted to take this time to briefly talk about the characters in the game, and why I think they are masterfully designed.
Lego Star Wars has a wide variety of Star Wars characters. Interestingly, I’d argue that this game is class based. The game has many distinct classes such as Jedi, gun characters, droids Bounty Hunters, and small characters. For the most part, a lot of the characters are simply reskins of each other. For example, most force users act the same; they can use the force, deflect bullets, and jump high. Blaster characters, with the exception of Battle Droids can use the grapple hook, and all bounty hunters have a thermal detonator. Droids can open certain doors, and small characters can get through tight spaces. Some characters are more unique though, such as the Ewok who has a distinct slingshot weapon, and the Gonk Droid who doesn’t really do anything. Having a limited selection of character traits, or archetypes allow the game to be simplified and easy enough to understand for the younger audience.
While some characters have certain special traits, the majority of them inherit the same actions. I think this is a plus for player choice and personality, as it allows people to go through levels with their favourite characters. If you are a fan of Han Solo, you can play most of the game with Han Solo. Although switching characters is a key pillar of gameplay, the points in the levels where you have to swap are spread out far enough that it doesn’t feel tedious or annoying. On the contrary, in Lego Star Wars: The force Awakens, I feel like I have to switch every 5 seconds, which becomes frustrating and takes me out of the flow.
Due to the lack of dialogue, the animations and overall presence of the characters really have to be pronounced, and I think they did a good job. Each character is masterfully animated to meet the light hearted tone of Lego as well as adhere to the constraints of the pre existing characters. For example, Storm troopers are portrayed as very clumsy and lack seriousness. Although this isn’t 1:1 with the source material, it still makes them out as a minor threat, which I think is congruent with the movies and convenient for the target audience of the game.
If none of the characters speak to the player, they can even create their own. They can change their name, appearance, and weapon, which heightens the relationship between the game and the player.
That concludes my brief summary of how characters in Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga are designed in relation to the target audience and intellectual property. In summary, the limited classes, character creator, animations, and level design all work in tandem to create an experience that is inclusive to a players own personality and interests within the Star Wars universe.