With more than 300 playable characters and 23 planets to discover, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is an expansive game.
Developed by TT Games and published by Warner Bros. Interactive, it’s bursting with deep cuts and sly jokes from the world’s most popular sci-fi franchise. It’s clear that loads of love went into making this game — so it’s pretty baffling that one widely disliked and criticized minor character made it in at all.
You remember Watto — he’s the long-nosed, money-grubbing, slave-owning merchant who speaks with an accent that’s widely perceived as sounding Yiddish. He owned Anakin and Shmi Skywalker, and once told Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace that, “mind tricks don’t work on me; only money.” The Skywalker Saga sees Watto shift from merchant to loan shark — sending players on a quest called “Wupiupi Whoopee” to forcibly collect his money back. (Wupiupi is a form of currency on Tattooine, in case you hadn’t already figured out that Watto likes money.)
In The Skywalker Saga, Watto, once described as a “hook-nosed merchant insect” by The Village Voice back in 1999, enlists players to become his enforcers.
Watto in The Skywalker Saga.TT Games
“Ehhh! You come at good time, eh? Got some deadbeats who owe me money,” he says. “I was just looking for somebody… ‘persuasive’ to go collect from them!”
On one planet, you sneak your way into someone’s home to force them to pay up. On another, you trash a debtor’s place, finding and stealing her diary to locate the hidden money. When players arrive at the third planet, they must beat up a “Defiant Deadbeat” until she finally relents and pays up. It’s brutal, in a strangely family-friendly way.
“Thinks she can hide my money from me, does she? Turn that place upside down if you have to!” Watto says of one of these clients.
Watto has widely been interpreted as an antisemitic stereotype in a movie with several other caricaturish renderings of non-white people, including the Gungans and the Nemoidians of the Trade Federation. Watto isn’t explicitly a space Jew, since the Star Wars series takes place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” — but problematic depictions don’t have to be 1:1 copies.
Historically, propaganda has depicted Jews as dirty, grotesque creatures, with long noses and evil eyes. They were portrayed as schemers out to fatten their own bellies and get rich off an unwitting gentile population. To beat a Jew’s crooked schemes was a virtue, even if it meant avoiding paying off a debt that was rightfully owed. Consider the infamous …….