As a Star Wars fan, beginning Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga feels like a huge responsibility. You’re about to play through all nine films in the Skywalker Saga in a single game for the first time—and right off the bat, you’re forced to make the decision of all decisions: which movie do you start with?
The choices are The Phantom Menace, A New Hope, or The Force Awakens, meaning a player can begin the game at the start of any of the three Star Wars trilogies. And while I saw some friends starting in chronological order, with The Phantom Menace, and others going through release order, with A New Hope, I decided on another path: the path of Machete.
Out now for most gaming systems, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a fun, family-friendly action game where players take control of Lego mini-figures of famous Star Wars characters and fight their way through the stories of the films. Along the way, there are lots of side missions and Easter eggs to keep the stories you know so well fresh and it’s just a freaking delight.
But when I think “delight” I don’t think about The Phantom Menace. I simply did not want to start my Lego Star Wars experience with that. And so I used my years on the internet to suggest a new path. Back in 2011, a writer named Rod Hilton created a Star Wars viewing order he called “The Machete Order” which has since become rather famous and popular. The idea came from the very annoying fact that once the prequels were released, if you sat a person down to watch the Star Wars movies in movie order, the prequels spoil one of the greatest reveals in cinema history, that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. And so Hilton suggested fans start with the first film released, 1977's A New Hope, followed by 1980's The Empire Strikes Back. Then, after getting that historic reveal, they should go back and watch 2002's Attack of the Clones and 2005's Revenge of the Sith. That way, those films act as a giant, elaborate flashback explaining how and why Luke’s father, Anakin, became the evil, notorious Darth Vader, while also keeping the focus on Luke.
The Machete Order also solved my dilemma with Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Now I could start with the familiar, perfect entry point of A New Hope. I could mess around as Luke, Leia, and Han, and I could fly X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon, all as a way to get excited about playing this game. That sounded much, much better than starting with Trade Federations, destroyer droids and Gungans.
And so I played through A New Hope, I played through The Empire Strikes Back, and then I avoided the temptation to move onto my personal favorite of the saga, Return of the Jedi, in favor of the prequels. Here, though, is where the Lego Machete order differs from the original. Hilton’s order completely eliminates The Phantom Menace. Poof. Gone. Sure, you miss some very cool iconography that way, but in terms of Anakin’s journey to becoming Darth Vader, it’s largely inconsequential. (You can read the original post for a deeper breakdown).
In Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga though, that’s not an option. You have to play through The Phantom Menace in order to unlock Attack of the Clones (just as you have to play through the first films in each trilogy to unlock the second, and the second to unlock the third). But after playing through the amazingness of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, I was fine going back in time for some podracing and Gungan warcraft.
After a few days, I finished the prequel trilogy (which is much more enjoyable to play through as a Lego character than watch as a human) and then jumped into Return of the Jedi, which is when something miraculous happened. Return of the Jedi, both the movie and the game, begin with the Emperor showing up on the second Death Star and talking with Darth Vader. It’s the first time, in the original trilogy, that you see the Emperor in the flesh and playing Lego Star Wars with the Machete order, this introduction comes immediately after three games where he’s the main villain. The throughline is flawless. In fact, it fit so well that I literally paused the game to marvel at it. Jumping from the end of Revenge of the Sith where the Emperor fights Yoda and Darth Vader gets his armor, to the beginning of Return of the Jedi, with the two of them ruling the galaxy as Sith Master and Apprentice, my Machete Order decision was wholly justified. The flashback filled in all of the questions a viewer might have after The Empire Strikes Back and now I was ready to head to Jabba the Hutt’s palace to save my buddy Han, frozen in Carbonite.
As of publication, I’m still in the middle of Return of the Jedi and am looking forward to jumping ahead to meet Rey, Finn, Poe, and the rest soon. But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that if you plan on playing Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, then IV, V, I, II, III, VI, VII, VIII, IX is the way to go.
Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.