I wasn’t the famous Star Wars kid who could lay claim to one of the internet’s most viral videos, but if I had access to a video camera at that time, that could have easily been me. I waved lightsabers around. I filled notebooks with doodles of X-Wings fighting TIE Fighters. I even once asked some friends how I would look with Obi-Wan’s rat tail tucked behind my ear, and distinctly remember their faces scrunching up and heads shaking vigorously. I absolutely loved Star Wars in a way that bordered on obsession.
As an adult, though, that love has waned. The once-pounding heartbeat of that franchise in my life flatlined to a dull murmur expressed in passive disinterest. After The Rise of Skywalker, I couldn’t really bring myself to actively dislike Star Wars, because even that feeling felt like more effort than my apathy could muster. I don’t know if I outgrew it. I don’t know if my tastes changed. I don’t know if I just really disliked that movie so much that it shattered the foundations upon which my media preferences were built. But I no longer felt the same about Star Wars after that. I never avoided it, but I never mustered up any enthusiasm to participate in it again.
But then I started playing LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Rather, the game fell in my lap after a colleague wasn’t able to play it pre-release, so I volunteered. And after playing it and laughing at all these silly jokes about this thing with which I am somehow simultaneously intimately familiar and disinterested, I realized something: I do still like Star Wars! What it needed was levity — actually, scratch that. What I needed was levity to remind myself that Star Wars is not so deathly serious that I was forced to take it just as seriously in turn.
No LEGO game has really taken itself seriously. It comes with the territory of being a game series about toys that is, in essence, a walking advertisement for multiple things at once. You can’t treat that with the same gravitas and tone as you would the source material without it coming off as a lesser form of what it’s trying to portray. With LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, TT Games clearly felt an opportunity to make fun of what’s absurd about Star Wars and amplify what’s already lighthearted and funny about it.
When you first start the original trilogy, beginning with A New Hope, Leia Organa’s voice actor has a slight British accent. By the time the crew escapes the Death Star, she has entirely dropped it, like in the actual movie. When Anakin speaks to Rey among the rest of the Jedi voices encouraging the young protagonist, he only remarks that he really does not like sand.
None of these are going to cause riots at the local comedy barn, but they’re cute and fun little jokes. More importantly, they’re jokes reminding me that Star Wars has not always been this life-or-death culture war. They’re movies meant for all ages about a hero’s journey — something that gets lost in extended universes, season-long mysteries, and returning characters across multiple forms of media. It’s a franchise that’s enjoyable for some because of the technical aspects of a military class Nebulon-B escort frigate and enjoyable for others because lightsabers make fun noises when they swoosh. I think I spent too long thinking I was the former when really I just want to be the latter.
This isn’t to say anyone is wrong for how they like something. I think you should engage with Star Wars in the way that makes Star Wars enjoyable for you — whether that’s as a hardcore fan, an occasional toe-dipper, or perhaps even not at all. But I think LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, despite its unwieldy title, is one of those flashpoints that help crystalize what makes Star Wars special for those who do want to love it.
It reminds me of being a child and watching the movies on cable, going to a friend’s house who just got them on VHS, and cajoling my uncle into taking us to see the special edition versions in theaters. Of midnight screens of new movies and being invited to Lucasfilm’s studios to watch the new ones. It isn’t that every memory I have of Star Wars is perfect, but those childhood memories that resurfaced as I played this game gave me a feeling I had not felt in a long time.