May the force be with you. A new generation of Jedi have been brewing now that "The Clone Wars" has launched into a summer blockbuster followed by an ongoing cartoon. The Dark Side of the Force has bombarded us with LEGO and Happy Meals and all sorts of paraphernalia that Darth Lucas and his Sith marketing team have spread like droids over the planet.
Being a Nintendo console owner, I was disappointed that the latest "Soul Calibur IV", featuring our beloved Yoda was excluded from the Wii. The subsequent "Force Unleashed" was a good way to express your inner Jedi (or Sith, actually), but I found it more to be a reasonable port from the other consoles, since it didn't really give you the immersive experience that you would have expected with the interactive Wii control mechanism, rather than an awesome FPS.
LucasFilm finally answered with a Wii-exclusive title aptly called "The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels" and it should satisfy everybody except couch potatoes glued to their seat or (gasp!) Star Wars haters (who we all know will eventually end up suf-fer-ring).
First, let's explore the interactive and intuitive control interface. You swing your Wiimote left, right, up and thrust to simulate the lightsaber swing. You push the B-button to block, or press B and swing to counter, which I liken to squeezing the "hilt" on my trusty lightsaber tighter. The Z-button enables the Force moves, like balling the fist in your free hand, while a thrust of the Nunchuck simulates the Force push.
Using the Force to throw objects requires the C-button, which is like hooking you left pointer and flicking it at your opponent. Have I gotten your Midichlorian count up yet? Good! (Yeah, I know, I'll try not to use the M-word again in this review).
Aside from the simulated swinging of both your hands, the rest of the game plays like your favorite fighting game, a la "DOA", so I think this makes up for the exclusion of the Wii from the "IV" title mentioned above.
Since all button-mashing is essentially replaced by more realistic arm movements, the game will be physically more tiring than your average callus-inducing fighting game (so much so that you'd wish that they had a feature that will allow you to make your Wiimote hover in the air with a wave of your hand).
Frankly, like everyone else, I was disappointed with the omission of the infamous new WiiMotion Plus since it would have been extra cool to be able to slowly move your saber-hand around in slow motion while your game character responded with the classic "Voo Voo" movement of his lightsaber.
For the uber-geek, there is, of course, an odd lightsaber attachment for your Wiimote available in stores now. But, even without gimmicks, the movements are fun and intuitive enough that even a 4-year-old can master it --- I know, since I let my son play --- but active enough for you to be tired after a few duels, especially if you end up locking sabers a lot.
Love, or love not. There is no like. This title will either get your Force pumping or you'll throw it to the junk pile for the Jawas to salvage.
By Kent Lee
Copyright 2008 CBS. All rights reserved.