Lego Star Wars for the GBA is a darn good game that covers the events in the first three Star Wars prequels - as they might have taken place in a Lego universe. That is to say that all of the backgrounds, spaceships, enemies and playable character are all constructed out of Lego bricks. I know what you're thinking but there's more to this game than a blatant merchandising campaign. After the novelty of the Lego feature fades the gameplay still remains compelling.

Not just for young kids, Lego Star Wars is an action adventure game that features a lot of hacking and slashing. It goes easy on the platforming. Some puzzles are included, and while most of the gameplay elements aren't terribly challenging they are fun.

Everything is constructed out of Lego blocks and pieces and that also means that all these Lego pieces can also be deconstructed. Enemies can be turned into piles of Lego brick with a few deft slices of your lighsabre. Their bodies will crumble into tiny squares. It's an excellent visual effect. You will even see some structures and characters transform as the bricks are rearranged in real time.

All of the characters have basic moves but they have different attack skills. R2D2 is able to hack into computer-coded locks, Obi-Wan can push enemies away with the Force and Anakin can throw his lightsabre like a boomerang so that it becomes more of a ranged weapon. You can use each character for different situations and even change them in a moment's notice in some levels. You can unlock more characters by collecting tokens and making kills.

Missions are assigned to each level. During all of them the common thread is to destroy all droids and guards. You will use either the lightsabre or the blaster to accomplish this. You begin each level with six health points. Each hit you sustain will result in you losing a health point. There are power-ups which will assist you and you can even purchase more health and other aids but if you run out of health points you'll have to start the level over.

If you're a Star Wars fan you'll enjoy the various locations and situations culled from the first three films. We don't get any more information on the mysterious and short-lived character of Darth Maul and I won't spoil the surprise (or horror) if Jar Jar Binks is included as a playable character. You'll recognize the planets of Naboo and Tatooine in all their splendor as the GBA is really pushed to the limits graphically without sputtering and stalling. The levels are large and there are plenty of rooms and corridors to explore as well as computers to interact with. The soundtrack and sound effects are taken from the movies but nowhere near to the extent of the console version. Overall I'm quite impressed by how close this GBA version is to its console counterpart.

Even an average gamer will have little trouble getting through the story mode in less than a day. A Free Play mode lets you go back to any unlocked level and play as any unlocked character. I found this mode irresistible due to the freedom associated with it. It adds some replay value but this mode is actually more of a novelty.

Lego Star Wars preserves the Star Wars legacy. Even though this game parodies the franchise it's still licensed by the big man himself. Definitely recommended for a rental.

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System: GBA
Dev: Amaze
Pub: Eidos
Release: March 2005
Players: 1
Review by Dean