Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating and My age rating.

Content-wise: The core gameplay may solely revolve around you slashing your opponent with a Lightsaber and flinging random objects at them with the Force, but the presented tone is cartoony and quite harmless—it's not nearly brutal or overly violent, and for a "fighting" game, kid-friendly.

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Difficulty-wise: Kids will find it challenging to actually string together congruent combos, which will often lead to aimless Wii-waggling matches instead; and the AI are not only difficult, but can also be frustratingly cheap. But, shallow combat issues won't effect the fun factor for this age group, and if played on the lowest difficulty, kids could pretty easily complete the single-player Campaign in order to unlock the characters and arenas necessary to play in versus. And while the Campaign is plainly too difficult for kids 7-, I don't think they'll have any issues playing this in versus mode with a parent, older sibling, etc.

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Fun for: I can't see adult gamers buying the game for themselves and playing it alone. But, in the sense of playing a few versus matches with their kids, nieces and/or nephews, cousins (etc.), it can be equally fun for both age groups.

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Gameplay sum up: The base gameplay consists of using your Lightsaber and the Force against a single opponent in the side-scrolling perspective arenas (on Star Wars planets like Teth and Tatooine) while trying to get the others' health bar down to zero, over two rounds, by performing combos with your Lightsaber (swing the Wiimote left and right, up and down or forward), flinging objects at and/or pushing opponents with the Force (by flicking your nunchuck left/right), and keeping up your attacks to replenish your depleted Force power bar. You'll often lock blades with your rival, and then either have to swing the Wiimote in rapid succession left and right, or quickly perform a certain, abrupt directional sequence with the Wiimote to break the lock and win. After finishing the single-player Campaign and unlocking all available characters/arenas for other modes, you can, in addition to split-screen versus, play Challenge (defeat opponents in allotted time, use specific combos, etc.) Battle (fight against AI), Freeplay and Quickplay mode (auto selects stage and characters at random).

Full list of playable characters are: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi; Ahsoko Tano; Asajj Ventress; Count Dooku; General Grievous; EG-5 (Jedi hunter droid); and unlockable secret characters Mace Windu, Plo Koon, and Kit Fisto.

Fantasy violence: This game, Star Wars The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels, is based on the CG animated movie and Cartoon Network series of the same name, using their overall storyline (which for this game, predominantly focuses on fight scenes between the Jedi and Sith) as cutscenes between its Campaign's missions. Beyond this, there's no standalone or congruent storyline worth mentioning; if you have seen the movie or cartoon, then you know what the game's premise is about...

The tone of violence is moderately hectic, and consists of you fighting your opponent with a Lightsaber, as you fling random objects at them—which then explode—with the Force, knock opponents into walls or out of the area with Force push, and use nearby environmental objects—like broken electrical panels, or in Count Dooku's case, Force lightning—to electrocute them, which results in them spastically shaking in a cartoony fashion. Your opponents will grunt/groan when hit, and slowly fall to their knees when defeated, but no one appears in the least bit injured, let alone dies.

In addition, characters will lightly smack talk each other, like Ahsoka, who'll say, "Ick! I can see your guts!" while fighting General Grievous (part alien, part robot), and call (bald headed Sith) Asajj Ventress an "Old crone" or "Bald witch!" (etc.) while fighting; there is constant activity and fantastical explosions in arena backgrounds, with Clones and separatist droids engaged in firefights, or with the native and hostile wildlife; and in cutscenes, you see characters knock each other into walls with the Force and slice apart several droids with their Lightsabers. However, all listed is presented in a very mild, cartoony fashion and isn't nearly brutal or overly violent—I see no problem with kids of most ages watching and/or playing this game.

Content review posted: 01/22/09

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