The Phantom Menace
Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are. The Phantom Menace is rarely high on anyones rankings of the films, but there’s something about it that translates so well into video games. It all works so well here. Starting with “A Bigger Fish”, we’re tasked with fleeing from a couple of pretty big fish, in an on-rails vehicle section reminiscent of the original Lego Star Wars. A strong start, even if it is the weakest vehicle sequence in the game (and impossible to reach “True Jedi” status without a stud multiplier).
“The Boonta Eve Classic” is, as you’d imagine, the Podracing section. Now, this was my favorite level back in 2005, and I’m thrilled at just how well it’s carried over, 17 years later. I would have liked a 3rd person view, rather than a 1st person camera, but everything else is wonderful. Incredibly, we don’t end with the Qui-Gonn and Obi-Wan vs Maul fight, as “Better Call Maul” kicks off the episodes mid-way point. It gloriously mixes combat with fairly basic puzzles to create a real highlight.
“Outmanned But Not Out-Gungan-ed” is a joy, too. The levels asks you to help set up the Gungan’s defenses on Naboo, before turning into something of a tower defence mini-game at the end. Variety is rife in The Phantom Menace, and that is celebrated here. “Now This Is Podracing” ends the episode, asking us to take on the defenses of a Trade Federation battleship to begin with, and throwing us into something of a trench run inside the ship. A stunning end to proceedings.
I think it’s clear that my favorite moments from The Skywalker Saga are those vehicle sections, and The Phantom Menace delivering three of them, probably goes in its favour. But it all feels so breathless, here. It’s one moment after another, and nothing feels compromised. Even if you’re not a fan of the film, it’s impressive just how enjoyable an experience it is in spite of that. Top of the tree, for me.