Compared to the previous Lego Star Wars game, vehicle-oriented levels are more plentiful this time around. Nearly a third of the game's levels put players into the cockpit of familiar vehicles to re-create key action scenes from the films. There's the Death Star trench run, featuring Luke's X-wing; the Hoth Battle, with Luke at the controls of a snowspeeder; the asteroid belt escape, between the Millennium Falcon and hordes of TIE fighters; the Endor chase, with Han at the seat of an Imperial Speederbike; and the climactic Death Star battle, once again featuring the Millennium Falcon. The environments for these aerial battles use the same isometric perspective as the foot-based missions, but the emphasis is less about exploration and more about blasting any enemy ships that come your way. Fans of The Empire Strikes Back, in particular, will enjoy the Hoth Battle level, since a major portion of it involves snagging Imperial Walkers with the Snowspeeder's tow-hook and tying up their legs until they topple to the ground.
The game puts the GBA's limited audio-visual capabilities to good use. The isometric backgrounds are crisp, detailed, and vibrant. Character sprites are a good size. They're big enough so that you can tell who you're controlling, but not so big that they hog the screen. Fans will easily recognize the characters and environments, even though the characters resemble squat Lego people, and the scenery is decorated with Lego pieces and studs. Levels based on locations from the film, such as Tatooine, the Death Star, Hoth, and Endor, are unmistakable. There isn't much animation in the environments, aside from some flicking computer panels and steam jets, but the silky-smooth movement of the characters more than makes up for the lack of background vitality. Story scenes, which were depicted in the previous game as still close-ups, are depicted in this game by the in-game character sprites. The dialogue is represented by goofy caption boxes, and the characters pantomime their reactions with exaggerated arm and body movements. It's hilarious to watch. For the audio, the developer simply lifted the music and sound effects right from the movies. The familiar John Williams score sounds great coming out of the GBA's speakers, and all of the various blaster shots and droid chirps sound crystal clear.
Levels encourage exploration, and there are 36 characters to choose from.
The only downside to the GBA version of Lego Star Wars II is that it isn't as thick with features as the console and PC versions of the game are. People that simply want to see the end of the story mode can do so in as little as two hours. Of course, the dozens of characters and secrets waiting to be discovered in the free play mode should provide sufficient incentive for most players to invest double or triple that amount of time to unlock everything the game has to offer. That's pretty much all there is to this specific version of the game, since the multiplayer modes and character editor from the other versions didn't make it into the GBA edition.
Those that crave a portable Star Wars fix should be satisfied with the GBA version of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. It may not be as slick or as meaty as its console counterparts, but it still manages to bring off the juxtaposition of Star Wars and LEGO with nearly the same level of irreverent charm, and it's a solid action adventure game besides.