Star Wars: Pit Droids Download (1999 Educational Game)

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Star Wars Pit Droids is a great puzzle game from the fine minds at Lucas Learning. From the nicely detailed graphics to the intricate gameplay to the jazzy soundtrack, this one is sure to appeal to any Star Wars fan young or old.

George Lucas has always been interested in using technology to help kids learn, and this tie-in to Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace exemplifies that interest (as does Star Wars Episode One: The Gungan Frontier, another educational game from the company). Given the number of people with Phd's who are credited as subject matter experts in the credits, it's obvious that the intent was not to make some half-hearted edutainment title with the Star Wars name on it just to make a few bucks. The team which put this game together obviously was interested in kids having fun while learning at the same time.

I thought the pit droids were one of the most fanciful creations to appear in Episode One, so they were a natural for a game like this. The idea is to use arrows to maneuver them to their appropriate goals so that they can be moved to the next stage in the game; the idea is to get them to the Mos Espa arena for use in the next pod race. It sounds simple, but, of course, it's not when you actually play the game. Some of the droids are different colors, so they can only go into the goals which share that color. Some of the puzzles have machines which paint the droids, so that's useful as long as you use your arrows wisely (there's only a finite supply) and maneuver them there before sending them to the goal.

Oh yeah, and some of the goals are locked, so the droids have to pass over the right key space to unlock them, and others have hazards surrounding them such as giant fans which propel the droids into the sky. You need to send a certain number out of each puzzle and into the next stage before you can move forward in the game, so you can't just waste them. Luckily you can pause the action to catch your breath, and R2-D2 is available to help you figure out what all the buttons do while C-3PO has a few tours to get you started.

3PO is his half-finished Episode One self, and he has plenty of his usual quips and comments, which are amusing as always. R2 only exists as a button in the interface, though, which is a slight bummer. It would have been fun to have seen him and his companion interact in their Laurel and Hardy way, but that's not a requirement here.

As it stands, though, the game has plenty of other nice little touches. I loved the pit droids' personalities in the movie, and their actions are very similar here. If they run into a dead end in the puzzle, for example, they look up at you and shake their metal fists and jump up and down in frustration. It's amusing to watch them bang into walls or each other, although you have to be careful or you won't have any left to advance to the next stage. The opening of the game also has a great animation wherein Watto shows up and gives you a lecture about how he needs all those pit droids in the arena for the race (as with every Star Wars-related game, this one opens with a roll-up explaining the backstory and then pans down to the surface of the planet before getting started).

The music is easily the best I've heard in a videogame in a long time. They're all original compositions, and they have a nice jazzy quality which is a lot of fun. While this game would still garner a high rating even if it had lousy music, the fact that the development team put such care into this part of it really earns it some bonus points. So often videogame music is merely nondescript or pedestrian.

There are literally hundreds of puzzles, so you shouldn't have to worry about running out of ones to solve, and there's even a puzzle maker so that you can create your own. I really hope it sparks the imaginations of lots of kids (and even adults) out there. Kudos to Lucas for caring enough about education to greenlight a project like this, and kudos to the team which obviously went the extra mile to pull it off.

Graphics: Great all around, with plenty of little touches.

Sound: Some of the best music I've heard in a game in a long time along with great sound effects.

Enjoyment: I think kids as well as adults will really get a kick out of this title.

Replay Value: There are hundreds of puzzles to play as well as the chance to make new ones.


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