What, I wonder, have I created?
I told my daughter about an Xbox 360 Kinect Star Wars video game I saw during a conference last month, and must have gotten carried away with this one part where you can be a Rancor beast and destroy towns. (Remember the opening scene in Return of the Jedi, when Luke battles that monster in the subterranean Thunderdome under Jabba’s lair? Sure you do, nerd. Anyway, that’s a Rancor.)
Probably the coolest part about this new Star Wars game is that you get to be one.
To be honest, it was the only part of the Star Wars video game that I actually really liked. The pod-racing parts, while set up as a fun race, actually proved disappointing. Whether you moved your arms around to control the pod racers or whether you just kept your arms straight and did nothing, the racers continued to move onscreen, zipping around corners as if controlled by ghosts. Weird. And not fun.
The Jedi training ground with the lightsabers took a long time to train and get going, testing the patience of any adult/child Jedi in training. The dance-off scenes were more fun than I imagined but it’s still a weird thing to include in a game about Star Wars. When I think of the series and inhabiting the roles of my favorite characters or reliving important scenes, probably the last thing that comes to mind is dancing.
But then … we tried the Rancor.
This was by far the most fun for us. This portion is set up like a quasi-open playground, in which you can either stick to a goal and, say, try to destroy a certain number of buildings or eat a certain number of people, or just go on some unholy rampage and destroy … everything. We chose the latter.
It was comical to watch the transformation of my daughter, as she tested out a few slow swipes at buildings and then tested out a few timid jumps on top of them. Once she got the hang of it, she was romping around, showing me how best to pick people up and throw them at spaceships.
I don’t know what it is about play-destruction — I’m sure there’s some pop psychology for safely testing out deep-seated fantasies of doom or something — but she had a blast and wanted to keep coming back to this one. It reminded me a lot of that old-school Rampage arcade game, in which you could be a monster and destroy a city, climbing buildings and munching them away. The Rancor scenes are like that, but on steroids and cocaine. Family fun for all.
Snapshot review: I received a free review copy of the game, and I would have been mildly disappointed to have actually paid real money for this one. Without the Rancor scenes, I would have been greatly disappointed.
Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out!