Before I launch into this review, I should say that I’m generally not fond of the fighting game genre. I have a tendency to view them as victory through button mashing with no real skill or experience required. Moving on from there, I was not the primary player in our household this game was intended for. We actually rented this (despite its T for Teen rating) for my 9 year old brother. He’s a big Star Wars fan.
Beginning my research on this game, I made my own play file and started in. I was a bit horrified when I told it to play free play and then didn’t even give me the option of a tutorial. So there I am floundering my way through the character selection interface with no idea what I’m doing and no idea how the controls work. I then was launched into a fight against a Sith who was wielding not one but two lightsabers and I couldn’t even figure out which of the combination of buttons and frantic waving of the Wiimote was actually causing me to swing my lightsaber at her. The box says “Wield your Wiimote like a Lightsaber!”. I hate to say it, but I did no such thing. I wiggled it around and beat down some Sith. My little brother is quoted as saying “I don’t even know which one I am!” If that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with this game, then I don’t know what does.
There are three different play modes: campaign, free play and challenge. Campaign is the story line of the game. The storyline faithfully follows the Clone Wars movie, which is a definite plus when compared to a lot of movies turned video game. Free play is just that, a single match either between two players or one player and a computer controlled character. Each match is comprised by at least two parts, each a separate fight. A match is a best 2 out of 3 fight for victory. The same match style is used in the campaign mode, meaning that losing a single fight doesn’t keep you from moving forward. Challenge mode lets you pick a fight with one of the characters and keeps track of your performance so you can see how you’re improving.
The art style in Lightsaber Duels is exactly the same as in the Clone Wars animated episodes, making it a natural transition for the kids who have been watching it. Aside from the detail where the game is rated T for Teen and the show is watched by elementary schoolers everywhere.
For one last little nit-picky thing. When I was playing one of the challenges, it was me as Anakin Skywalker versus Obi-Wan. We’re going along fighting and the characters are randomly bantering like they do. Suddenly, Obi-Wan says something like “I’m glad Qui-Gon isn’t here to see you.” and the voice actor pronounces it “Ki-gon”. I’m sorry…what? You can’t pronounce Qui-Gon’s name? I’ve seen the movies all of once and I can pronounce it. You lose serious points for that.
In conclusion, the art, tone and game rating don’t jive. The controls are hard to use and silly. They made advertising claims on the package that contradict earlier press releases and the game itself. I don’t even know what to say. But I award The Clone Wars : Lightsaber Duels a grand total of 2 out of 5 hearts.