A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is an action-adventure game for the Nintendo 3DS based on the popular cartoon series. The game casts players as their favorite Star Wars characters in LEGO form, having them solve puzzles and battle a variety of enemies. The fighting is frequent, but very cartoon-ish in nature. When a character is killed, he breaks into separate LEGOs, but the player is not significantly penalized for the death and no suffering is depicted. Players can sometimes encounter droid characters sitting on toilet seats and reading the newspaper. Also, Nintendo is warning parents not to allow kids age six and under to view the graphics in 3D because that viewing "may cause vision damage." The Nintendo 3DS offers parents the ability to lock out the use of 3D graphics in the system's Parental Controls.
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What's it about?
The storyline of LEGO STAR WARS III: THE CLONE WARS 3D may not make much sense to people who don't follow the TV show, but at its heart, you play one of several well-known Star Wars characters (such as Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi) fighting against the forces of evil. To succeed, you'll need to solve puzzles and defeat a series of enemies (typically droids). Players must toggle between the characters at their disposal to do this. For example, to reach a certain part of the screen, you may need Yoda to hop up there, but when enemy droids begin firing at you, you'll need to switch to a trooper to dispatch them, since they are out of Yoda's range (as he only wields a light saber).
Is it any good?
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars 3D is a game that comes so, so close to being terrific. The story is fun, even if you don't follow the cartoon series and don't grasp its nuances. And the puzzle solving elements are fantastic. Using the characters at your disposal to figure out how to progress is challenging, but never frustrating. Where it falls short, though, is in its save features. Levels are long -- with some lasting 30 minutes -- and you cannot save the game mid-level. Given the rather weak battery life of the 3DS, that can be problematic for players who don't have that long to dedicate to the game. And with the 3D effects turned on, looking at the screen for a period that long may result in eye fatigue. A simple save at will or autosave feature would boost the game tremendously. As it is, it's still one that's worth your time -- if you know what you're getting into.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the marketing aspects of the game. Does the fact that the game is played with LEGO characters make children want to play with the real thing more? Or do they enjoy the game because it's tied to LEGOs?
You can also discuss the violence in the game. Is it less troublesome because the characters are depicted as toys?
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