Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

The Reduced Shakespeare Company found success in taking one of the esteemed bard's plays, condensing its narrative, characters, subtlety and form to a 20-minute script, and employing two or three actors to perform the whole thing dressed in little more than tights and eyeliner. Balancing just the right amount of irreverence and respect for the source material, the company has thus managed to expose new generations to the prose of England's most venerated playwright.

The works of George Lucas are perhaps only comparable to Shakespeare's in that they both employ words and actors, and, to be honest, Star Wars has never been short of new generations to sell merchandise to – but nevertheless, Lego Star Wars II succeeds with a similar remarkable transformation.

In this cracking new PSP incarnation, you'll whiz through the plots of this most popular series of modern science-fiction, taking charge of all of the mythology's treasured characters – but dressed in the diminutive clothing of Lego blocks.

Thus Luke, Leia, X-Wings, Ewoks, lightsabers, Yoda, and that most likeable of dark-helmeted heavy breathers are all cheekily and, erm, blockily represented (and, crucially, playable) as you race through the first trilogy's storylines scene by scene.

The game opens in the Mos Eisley Cantina, and from this hub you can access levels from all three episodes as well as visit the in-game store to purchase various bonus characters, secrets, tips and cheats with the money you've collected.

Once inside the levels, the gameplay is a mixture of light puzzle solving, gentle platform gaming and the sabering up of dastardly Imperial troops.

You enter each stage with a modest team of playable characters of whom you only have control of one at a time (the AI handles the rest); switching between characters is as simple as a walking up to them and pressing Triangle.

Swapping characters is crucial because they fall into different classes, each of which enjoys varying abilities. Some can use grappling hooks to reach high platforms, others have double jumps or can squeeze into impossibly tight spaces; some can open special doors and still others, such as favourite bleeping droid R2D2, can hover for a short while.

The game presents various tasks that can only be solved by the appropriate character and, through careful planning and teamwork, you progress the glorious story.

You're also allowed to destroy much of the scenery in order to harvest the game's currency, Lego money. Equally, if you're in a more constructive mood, you're able to build up piles of scattered Lego left around into useful items or vehicles.

There's a lot of running around, but not everything has to be done on foot, of course. Some levels switch to a traditional style space shoot-'em-up that see you weaving through blocky space in the galaxy's most desirable ride, the Millennium Falcon, taking down TIE fighters or asteroids, or wrapping rope around the legs of AT-AT walkers. These stages are a welcome diversion from the main course, though they generally never feel quite as accomplished.

Of course, as you'd hope from the game version of supreme buddy movie Star Wars, you needn't be all alone. Popular gamers can play cooperatively with a friend wirelessly – although, sadly, not over the internet.

In these multiplayer modes the gameplay and level designs are identical to those in the single-player experience (if a tad more frustrating, as the camera strains to keep you both in shot all the time) and either of you can drop out at any time, leaving the other able to continue battling the bad guys solo.

Graphically, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy's developer has worked miracles with this PSP version – it's near indistinguishable from the Xbox 360 console version save for the extended loading times. It's glorious to behold.

True, there's a sense in which, underneath the accomplished visuals and the beloved scenario and characterisation, this is a simple videogame built on tried-and-tested mechanics – there's nothing particularly genre-defying or staggeringly notable in the game dynamic.

That said, it is exceptionally, ingeniously designed, and the gameplay is always extremely robust and compulsive. Overlaid with the striking Star Wars mythology and delightful Lego aesthetics, the simple game becomes a very compelling place to spend time.

Even if you're sick of the Star Wars franchise, there is a brilliantly pitched game underneath the setting that will spur you through. (Something that only makes our frustration with the lousy DS version even harder to stomach.)

For the Star Wars disciple – that player with themed bed sheets and an A-grade pristine boxed plastic Millennium Falcon weighing down the attic floor – Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy will prove to be just about the best game they buy for their PSP.

For everyone else, it's 'simply' excellent.

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

Beautifully knitting together the Star Wars and Lego worlds in presentation and ambience, this is a game that showcases the PSP's extraordinary capabilities
Simon Parkin
Simon Parkin
Simon Parkin is an author and journalist on video games. A core contributor to Eurogamer and Edge, he is also a critic and columnist on games for The Guardian. He is probably better at Street Fighter than you, but almost certainly worse at FIFA.