We've discussed the elements that appeal to kids. But what about the more casual gamer? Why is LEGO Star Wars a good choice for these people? It's the forgiving nature of the game that makes it appropriate for them. When characters die, they simply respawn again, in the same location. There's no restarting levels, no running out of continues, or any other game paradigms that can be a barrier to inexperienced gamers. If the action becomes too tough, you can drop out at any time, then come back when things cool off. There are some parts that are more challenging than others, certainly, but most of the time the game isn't frustrating at all.
Probably the best part of LEGO Star Wars, and the one that will appeal to the more experienced gamer, is the replay factor. Playing through the story mode is a good time, but it doesn't really take all that long. Free play allows players to go through each of the levels with their choice of characters. Want to be Darth Maul and Yoda working together? No problem. Each character's abilities open up new levels and secret areas with hidden items to collect. Jedi Knights are probably the most useful, with lightsabers, force powers, and a high jump, but many types of characters are needed if you hope to unlock all the secrets. Earning 100% for a level can be quite challenging indeed!
LEGO Star Wars was a smashing success, and sold quite well. I remember quite clearly how much my kids and I were looking forward to LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, and it didn't disappoint us. As an older Star Wars fan, I prefer the Original Trilogy, and besides the familar story, there were several tweaks and new features added to the sequel. The third and most recent game in the series is LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. As you'd guess from the title, it combines the first two games into one package, and adds in plenty of extras. We had only played the first two games on the Gamecube, so it was a no-brainer for us to buy The Complete Saga for the Xbox 360. It's been out for a couple years, so it's a bargain title, and can usually be found for under $20. If you've not had the chance to enjoy a LEGO Star Wars game, I recommend picking the last title up. It's by far the best of the LEGO games that we've played (note: we haven't tried LEGO Indy 2... yet), with an incredible amount of content providing hours of casual gaming goodness.