Lightsaber Duels (Wii)
When Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels was announced for the Wii , there was much rejoicing. From Star Wars The Clone Wars Wii, LucasArtsthe moment the Wii was first shown, legions of Star Wars fans across the world thought “Hey, we need a Lightsaber game for that there thing!” Now, it looked like it was finally arriving.
Then the WiiMotionPlus was announced. The device had been kept a complete secret by Nintendo, even from their third party developers. It will plug into the bottom of the WiiMote and allow for “1:1” motion, meaning as you move the WiiMote, so will the on screen representation. LucasArts was specifically mighty upset about the device’s introduction, or rather the shroud of secrecy around it, as it could’ve been used to make Lightsaber Duels even better. What they didn’t tell fans at the time is they didn’t even attempt in any way to go for “1:1”. In fact, the Tennis, Golf, and Baseball games included in WiiSports have a closer level of recognition than this game.
Instead of going for any kind of direct recognition, the game uses five basic motions. It’s awfully similar to pressing five individual buttons for the attacks. There’s swing left, swing right, swing up, swing down, and jab forward. That’s it. From there you can do special moves by doing combos, but they have to be very slow and deliberate. “UP, pause, UP, pause, RIGHT, pause, DOWN” might get you a somewhat flashier (and more powerful) attack, but it might also put you to sleep or make you scream in frustration the 10th time you try it to no avail.
The use of the force isn’t much better. You can force push, but it will only work occasionally, as you’re fighting other force wielders, and they block it more often than not. You can force throw miscellaneous objects around the (very) small battlefields, but be ready to have most of those either not actually travel all the way to your opponent, or be blocked as well. Finally, there are force-charged moves, and they do pretty massive damage, but you’ll usually only get one of those per match.
The story mode follows the path of the movie, and uses a healthy dose of actual scenes from it in between battles, even in between rounds of a single fight. If you dug the movie, you’ll dig the story, and it puts you in control of all the major Jedi as you go along. The abysmal selection of characters (10. TEN. What is this, 1990?) doesn’t allow for much variety when you decide to step out of the story and just have some “duels,” including multiplayer.
Upon announcement, this game had so much promise. As more info came out about it, that started to waver a bit, and when the movie received a less than stellar welcome, the future of the “Clone Wars” franchise started to look pretty bleak. Unfortunately, this is still not the game you’re looking for. The duel portion has already been done better in Force Unleashed with more characters, the controls didn’t even attempt anything new, and the story is one you already know. I don’t know that I can even recommend the game for kids, as the controls are really not kid-friendly at all. Even at the Padawan setting, if you just flail around, you’re going to get beat from about the third fight on. I’m still waiting and hoping for a REAL Lightsaber game from LucasArts. This unfortunately was not it.
Star Wars The Clone Wars DS, LucasArtsStar Wars: The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance (DS)
This DS game, on the other hand, is well-crafted, innovative, and a pretty great achievement for use of the DS’s power. The game takes you along the stories being told in the animated series right now, complete with voice over, full motion video, and alterable paths.
You at any time get to choose 2 members of the Jedi Council for each mission. Everyone can go on every mission, and the dialogue and voiceover work is changed depending on who you choose. They each have different strengths as well, and it was a lot of fun figuring out which combinations work especially well. Once you start, the game is largely a platformer and a hack-and-slash combined. There are some puzzles to solve, using both characters, there are droids and Sith alike to fight (again, using combos that include both characters and a single one alone), and best of all, it’s all controlled using the stylus.
Movement, attacks (high, medium, and low), and action are all done with the stylus. There are several quick time events, but rather than have you press a specific button, you draw on the screen. For example, a bridge is crumbling and you have to leap to the other side, so a curved arrow shows up on the screen, and you trace over that before time runs out. These events provide some extra action and a good break between the standard platforming aspects.
The variety of character combinations and the attention to detail with providing voice work no matter who you choose (with characters individually addressing each other) is spectacular. The controls are easy to pick up immediately, and while it’s not the best graphics I’ve seen on the DS to date, they’re very good, and work great for this game. It’s really quite shocking how good this game is, especially compared to how bad the Wii game from the same series is.
Any passing fan of the “Clone Wars” section of Star Wars mythos, and any die-hard Star Wars fan will definitely enjoy this game. Missions are small enough to do in bite-size chunks on the go, and engaging enough to sit and play for hours on end at home. Honestly, a near-duplicate version of this for the Wii would be very welcome.