Super Star Wars is a good game for the Super NES. But is Super Star Wars a good game for the Wiiís Virtual Console Service? These are two completely different things. Seventeen years is a long time and time can be cruel to videogames. It could be a bad game by now. Donít expect me to tell you guys already; after all, this is the beginning of the review. Donít think I would make it that easy.
SUPER STAR WARS
Console: Wii Virtual Console Service (originally Super NES)
Release Date: August 10, 2009 (North America), September 18, 2009 (PAL)
So some of you might have noticed that the Super Star Wars trilogy was released on the Wiiís Virtual Console service late last year. There was buzz from Nintendo of America. There was buzz from LucasArts. However, there was a resounding ďmehĒ from the general populace. Not even that. The game doesnít even garner enough interest to qualify for a ďmehĒ. Now that Iíve brought it to your attention, the cries of ďitís oldĒ, ďitís not PokemonĒ and ďChaserís oldĒ will be heard. I hear you. Why review some old piece of trash thatís not even 3D? Two reasons. Itís good for you to play retro games and I canít be bothered playing new titles. Besides, now that itís been recently re-released, thereís never been a better time to give this little gem the second look over it surely deserves.
Why was Super Star Wars a good game on the Super NES? First up, a history lesson. Super Star Wars was released in 1992. It was nifty little title belonging to the then-popular ďrun and gunĒ genre and based on the 1977 film of the same name. However, we all know that movies and video games are like oil and water. Thereís been enough Tomb Raider movies and Shrek video games to establish the fact. Star Wars, probably because of the material that developers have to work with, seems to be a major exception to the rule. These games were no different. There were many flashy levels filled to the brim with Jawas and Stormtroopers. Upgrading your blaster, getting your mitts on the lightsaber and hearing ĎUse the force, Lukeí was as satisfying in 1992 as it is in 2010. A few things though, have aged terribly. The difficulty is almost like one of those coin-op games from the golden age of the arcade. Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Milhouse puts an ungodly sum of quarters into an arcade game, only to die in the first ten seconds? Although Super Star Wars is not quite that ridiculous, it will demand the 'easy' setting on your first run through. The length is the other major gripe. Itís short; there was no save function for it back on the SNES. Now that we can save on Wii, the length of the game is exposed (around 4 hours), which makes it hard to justify the purchase.
Now letís talk about whether this is a good game on Wii and what sort of stuff you get up to in it. The game recreates all the major locations from the film. The Cantina, the Death Star and the dusty planet of Tatooine are all here in lovable 16-bit form. The levels are quite large and varied too. Youíre placed in the shoes of Luke Skywalker. You set about with your humble blaster killing an onslaught of bad guys in typical 2D side-scrolling fashion. The enemies will sometimes drop hearts to replenish your health or upgrades for your blaster. These upgrades change the function of your blaster. There are seven to collect, provided you donít die and revert back to the simple laser blaster. I was frustrated by the inability to change to previous blasters. Once you upgrade, thatís it. This is frustrating because sometimes youíll want the bouncing laser of the blaster, the rapid-fire feature of the Rapid-Ion or the simple awesome power of the Plasma. Switching between the lightsaber and blaster varies the gameplay a lot. The lightsaberís controls are quite simplistic though; you really donít have a lot of control over what you can do with it. There is also a thermal detonator weapon, which will destroy everything in sight, although itís usefulness is limited by the fact that enemies spawn faster than you can say Ďplease stopí. Later on, you will be able to play as Chewie and Han Solo in addition to Luke. All three characters play a little differently, with Luke being the weakest albeit the only character with access to the lightsaber. All in all, the platforming is good fun although the controls are the main frustration; itís excruciating to attempt the same jump for the seventh time only to land halfway down the level simply because Luke executes the wrong jump.
The levels are well constructed; the flat plains of the desert are good button mashing fare, whilst the vertical climb of the Death Starís interior will require more tactics and jumping. However, it must be said that A LOT of creative license was taken with the original material to make it into a video game. Luke seems to be hellbent on blasting, nuking and slicing every Jawa in sight, certainly something I donít remember in the original feature film. Overall, the Gameplay, played at the right difficulty is still good, solid fun. However, the vehicle missions are just plain annoying. Instead of the retro goodness of the 2D platforming levels, we are forced to endure grainy, pixelated 3D. If you can remember 3D on the SNES, then you know what to expect. The SNES utilized Ďamazingí Mode 7 technology, which personally I found never really looked the part. A few games like Super Mario Kart, F-Zero and StarFox (StarWing in PAL territories) were enjoyable enough to make you forget about the graphics. In Super Star Wars these missions were too simple and boring and the graphics become noticeable. The 2 inch draw distance and massive blobs on the screen are supposed to symbolize the fast paced fun of the speeder and X-Wing. Theyíre not fun at all, and thankfully there are only two relatively short missions to endure.
Hey man, you might want to turn around
So weíve established the gameplay stacks up and the aesthetics are fine too. Youíre playing early SNES, you know youíre playing early SNES, and thatís what it looks like. But for the time it actually looked quite good. The graphics arenít offensive (for want of a better word); you can get straight to enjoying the gameplay without really noticing the graphics. The soundtrack is taken straight from the film, so although low quality, this is John Williams and it sound good. These graphics and sound are probably best in the Cantina level. The jazzy bar number combined with the frenetic background combine for a memorable videogaming moment. If anything, the graphics and sound give a slight edge to the game.
What else needs to be said? Replay value is quite good. As I stated earlier in the piece, start out on an easy difficulty and work your way up. Youíll need to be a real pro to beat the game on the hardest difficulty, ĎBraveí. The replay value is quite a savior when dealing with a game as short as this. The ability to save using the Wii is most welcome as it makes the game much easier to swallow. The resounding theme throughout this review is Ďsimplicityí. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. In this case it's Super Star Wars' undoing, because ultimately itís a game from a bygone era, and it feels like it. If youíre willing to sacrifice the 800 Wii Points for the purchase, you probably wonít regret it. The length is the big issue because in this day and age, itís simply not forgivable for a game to be 4 hours long. Thatís what I suppose the next two volumes are for (which I hopefully will cover in the near future). If you enjoy retro titles and platformers, then this is the game for you.