Lego Star Wars brought two childhood favorites together, and last year a third when the first video game based on the franchise was released. Though ostensibly aimed at younger gamers (you could never really die and it wasn't super-challenging), the light humor, hidden content, and co-op play made it a surprise hit.
Of course, despite some bonus areas, it focused primarily on the new trilogy. Lego Star Wars II returns to the series' roots as it's based on the material found in the original three movies. Technical improvements seem to be relatively slim, but LSWII takes the block-building theme and runs with it. The game will feature 50 unlockable characters (and 50 more if you have a save from the original game), but from there you can mix and match body parts as you see fit. You can put Yoda's head on Princess Leia's slave outfit or give Darth Vader hairy Wookiee legs.
Characters also get new maneuvers and the ability to ride on creatures and vehicles. Sadly, some of the extra content can only be accessed in Free Play mode, but there is plenty to unlock including all the mini-kits from the first game.
Some free-roaming vehicle levels round out the new package (and who wants to bet we see the AT-AT battle on Hoth again?) and while that might not seem like a significant amount of improvements, it's the simple charm of Lego Star Wars that keeps gamers in tow. It's one of the few games that adults and kids can enjoy equally, making it friendly for the under-aged ones, but not mind-numbingly boring for anybody over eight (especially considering the somewhat tougher Advanced Mode).
Pick it up on September 12th for the PS2 and PSP. Until then check out these screens .