Lego Star Wars 2
| Lego Star Wars II

Lego. Star Wars. Both great, of course, but the remarkable thing about the Lego Star Wars series of video games is that it's a franchise of a franchise, taking inspiration from the imitator rather than the original, like a book of the film of a book. Cosmic.

But is Lego Star Wars 2 also a cosmological success, drawing power from its mighty pair of ancestors? Or is it nothing more than a cynical, money-spinning, cross-pollinated monster? Let's see.

The narrative loosely follows the action of Episode IV: A New Hope, in which Luke Skywalker braves the perils of the Death Star to rescue Princess Leia and (in this instance) R2D2. Over the course of 18 levels, your task is to free Luke's friends and then enlist their help to escape from the Emperor's infamous space station unscathed.

You start off in control of Luke. Armed with a blaster, you can shoot not only the patrolling stormtroopers but also destructible Lego blocks, computer screens, and panels of illuminated glass that explode satisfyingly in a shower of sparks. Firefights fill the screen with criss-crossing tracers and enemies' heads fly into the air whenever they take a hit.

At first, it looks like action all the way. After a while, though, you encounter a new kind of Lego block that you can shove across the floor – by one square across a knobbly bit, or until it hits a wall over smooth ground. Taking the effects of the two different surfaces into consideration, you can build bridges with these bricks to gain access to certain parts of every level. At this stage, Lego Star Wars starts to get a bit puzzley.

Soon enough you rescue R2D2, and from here on in it's possible to switch – with a flick of the softkey – between him and Luke.

Only by managing both characters properly can you hope to get either of them to the exit, and since with R2D2 you're unable to trundle across knobbled ground or up stairs, these levels require planning and coordination – it's all to easy to maroon a character irretrievably behind a wall or a strip of knobbles. Thus, having started out swashbuckling, things have become distinctly complex.

Eventually, you rescue the Princess. Luke hands her his gun and from then on pushing, shooting, and operating consoles are each possible only with Luke, Leia, or R2D2 respectively. Leia also automatically fires on stormtroopers whenever she's not selected, performing the role of gun turret whenever Luke or R2D2 need cover.

(Seasoned gamers will recognise this dynamic from titles like Head over Heels, Lost Vikings and, on the mobile, the excellent Darkest Fear series.)

By now, things are positively taxing, but not so tough that a competent player won't be able to rattle through the Lego Star Wars 2 in a few hours of trial-and-error.

To plump it up, the developer, Universomo, has included a bonus scheme whereby collecting all of the coins in every level – itself a significant demand – unlocks a 'mirror mode'. Whilst by no means sensational, this feature may well encourage you to work through the game a second time.

With solid, endearing visual presentation and sound to add to the largely positive report, it might look like Lego Star Wars 2 is going to escape Pocket Gamer's critical Death Star unscathed. But not quite.

The combat system is a little primitive, restricting shots to the two axes along which the player moves. Also – and worse – you can render a level impossible to complete by blocking an entrance, say, whereupon the game leaves you to discover the impasse and manually restart for yourself.

This oversight isn't the end of the world, of course, but given even the Windows Freecell game has the courtesy to tell you when there's no point continuing, a title of the calibre of Lego Star Wars 2 really ought to.

Such a clanger shouldn't put you off, though, because this is a cracking game. Evolving from action into puzzle into strategy, it improves as you progress through its 18 levels, and while Lego Star Wars 2 certainly isn't faultless, it contains the better part of both ancestors.

Lego Star Wars 2

Two childhood icons together at last on your phone, and as good as you'd hope, too