You will never find a more soothing and relaxing game in the Star Wars Galaxy
So, it's been a decade already since The Phantom Menace came out and my 10 year old nephew who was born in the year of TPM is now a big fan of The Clone Wars, but because he's been grown up playing Star Wars Battlefront and Republic Commando, he actually thinks there are not enough casualties on the show. Kids these days. Therefore I decided to dig up the most relaxing and environmentally sound Star Wars game ever created: The Gungan Frontier.
The purpose of this Lucas Learning production is to populate the Naboo moon of Ohma-D'un with flora and fauna so that the Gungans can build a new underwater home there. Despite the title there is actually very little Gungan action in this game. Sure, Jar Jar Binks and Boss Nass pop up now and then which can be quite annoying (Boss Nass even more so than Jar Jar, surprisingly) but both can be turned off (and in J.J.'s case 'put to sleep', but not with the fishes). But although you decide which animals and plants are to be harvested and how much by the Gungan population, we never actually see them doing this. The only thing that's possible is to watch the underwater bubble city grow (or shrink when you're not striking a good balance) and hear some disembodied voices repeating the same lines as you click on various bubbles. But this soon becomes rather boring, despite the occasional appearance by a school of Ray, Mee or Faa swimming by.
The heart of the game lies with the exotic alien animals that you can choose to populate Ohma-D'un with. Remember that The Phantom Menace had been in preproduction since before the Special Editions were released, and the art department headed by Doug Chiang had really gone to town in creating different alien species to populate the planets of Star Wars. Only some of their designs ended up in that brief stampede scene at the start of the film that also introduced Jar Jar. A whole lot more got to have their day in this game. And there were also some old favorites like the Dianoga, Dewback, Rancor and Ronto (sadly no Taun Tauns or Wampas).
The view-screen comes complete with a 'living encyclopedia' called the Kresh in which useful information on every kind of animals and plants can be found. It even lists the ones that players are able to name themselves via the Create a Critter option. There are three forms of play: Beginner (the species are selected automatically and food is inexhaustible), Advanced (the player has to carefully choose a group of animals and plants that will bring about a thriving eco system) and Missions (a series of short ecological challenges ranging from easy to hard).
Obviously this is not the most exciting Star Wars game ever created, seeing as it an educational game aimed at a young audience, but it certainly is a very relaxing and soothing way to spend some time in a corner of the Star Wars galaxy. But being a pacifist, I for one like nothing better than to watch some purple bubble spore blow in the wind, wait for a nest of Kaadu eggs to hatch, see a Shiro bond with a Tooke Trap or watch a Rancor spit out a Tooke. Leave the violence to the meat cans of the Clone Army and the shiny boys of Republic Commando, herding Shaak and keeping the Nuna (aka swamp turkey) in check is more my cup of Hubba Juice. Unfortunately, the expanded universe has not been kind to the moon of Ohma-D'un: it was nearly destroyed by poisoned gas in the Dark Horse Republic comic book, which must have made a lot of Gungan haters very happy. Of course it doesn't always work out with the environment in the game either as the player is able to let loose several natural disasters...
8 out of 10
And remember: stun does not work on plants.
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