It would seem that after all these years, Yoda, the 900-year-old sage, would have some stories to tell. Between tutoring Jedi Knights and giving jump-starts to X-Wings, he must be one experienced little muppet. The stories told here, however, aren't the rich historical fare one would expect from such a trove of knowledge.
In Yoda Stories, you assume the role of young Luke Skywalker, Jedi junior varsity and errand boy for Yoda. Using the game engine from Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures, Yoda Stories has you wandering all over creation to swap items. This model makes it simple to live up to the claim that "you'll never play the same game twice" - it's a simple matter of replacing characters, bad guys, and a host of items to find and trade. Re-using this engine seems as much like a bad case of deja vu as it does a painful reminder of what made Indy such a mediocre game. The missions, character behaviors, and game tone seem to be secondary to the repetitive task of finding item A to trade for item B.
If a Jedi is not supposed to crave adventure and excitement, it seems strange that Yoda would send Luke on a mission to destroy Imperial outposts. Apparently, because Luke is a fledgling Jedi, his influence inspires others to give him items such as... powerdrills? That same drill was then traded to someone for a... Jawa? Because objects are only placeholders, their correct use seems very vague, if not frustratingly random. Rocks and cargo crates can be shoved around to find hidden items or to clear the paths of a maze. In fact, most of the game is spent looking under nooks and crannies, as if Luke has lost his keys to the X-Wing. This adds up to as much fun as waiting out one thousand years in a Sarlacc's gut, trying to figure out what went wrong with your rocket-pack. The lack of logic or continuity between the characters and the gameplay is another problem - it seems strange that Ben Kenobi can be yanked from the hereafter by moving boulders into the right configuration. What would you choose to clear away a blocked cave entrance? A blaster? A thermite bomb? The Force? If you picked a fusion cutter, you win a year's supply of Wampa chow.
Combat is awkward and in no way satisfying. Most of the time you'll be using your lightsaber - that "elegant weapon from a more civilized age" - to dispatch beetles and snakes. Character movement is jumpy, and shooting those caffeinated beetles with a blaster is a downright bummer.
The graphics are kind of cute, and maybe this could have been part of a new "Star Wars Babies" line. The big-headed Stormtroopers look like they would have made better plush toys than the Ewoks. On the other hand, the backgrounds are as flat and lifeless as the gameplay. It's too bad too, because the Star Wars universe is one of the most three-dimensional and familiar licenses around, especially with the recent re-release of the trilogy. Yet, slapdash applications of this awesome responsibility tend to make half-hearted products such as Yoda Stories seem as if they've succumbed to the Dark Side.