|NES VERSION (1991)|
RELEASED: November 1991
AVAILABLE ON: GB, GG, NES, SMS
DEVELOPER(S): NMS Software (GB), Tiertex Design (GG, SMS), Beam Software (NES)
PUBLISHER(S): Capcom, Ubisoft, Nintendo (GB), U.S. Gold (GG, SMS), JVC, Lucasfilm Games (NES)
It's the biggest movie series ever... wait, it's more. It's everywhere. TV, literature, comic books, toys, video games, it's even the source of a worldwide religion. When George Lucas made Star Wars (now known as Star Wars - Episode IV) in 1977, he simply couldn't have predicted what kind of a cultural phenomenon it would become in a matter of years, how big of an impact his little sci-fi fairytale would have on the world. Even if you haven't watched one Star Wars movie in your life, you know who Luke Skywalker is. Or Darth Vader. Or Chewbacca. You know the trademark sounds of Star Wars - the Wilhelm scream, the sound of an unfolding lightsaber, Darth Vader's heavy breathing, Chewie's angry grunt. That goes to show how much Star Wars is referenced to in every other movie or TV show, it's so big. Video games on the subject were inevitable, ever since the concept of video games was born. The first home console game based on Star Wars was released in 1982 - The Empire Strikes Back on the Atari 2600 and Mattel Intellivision. Since then, Star Wars has spawned nearly 60 different games on multiple platforms: RPG's, shooters, platformers, video board games, racing games, one-on-one fighting games, you name it. There have been so many different sub-franchises, that there is no way to come up with a sensible order to reviewing Star Wars games. I'm going to do the best I possibly can, and I'll start with the first Star Wars game I ever played, Star Wars on the NES.
There will be no escape for the Princess this time
|Where's his "off" switch in this game, anyway?|
Warning: a Star Wars geek here, at least to some extent. I've never really been interested in anything besides the six movies (or just five of them, actually...), so I've missed out on a lot of the critically acclaimed novels, comic books and since they didn't exist when I was a kid (God damn it!!!), the line of Star Wars Legos. I've missed out on a lot of important Star Wars video games too, most of them because, once again, I never was much of an avid PC player. However, I have grown to play and even like some PC games related to Star Wars, and at the same time, the amount of Star Wars games on THE LIST - even before it physically existed - has grown to such heights that I can no longer prolong a marathon, which has a subject of this much significance to me, and just about every other person on this planet. It was the first Star Wars game I ever played, it's based on the first movie which I have completely memorized from angle to angle, line to line, so there's not a more fitting kick-off for the marathon than Star Wars on the Nintendo Entertainment System. To make it absolutely clear at this point: this is the internationally available game, not the Namco game of the same name released on the Famicom in 1987. It's a whole other game, although similar in style... and nearly as frustrating. Far from awful, though.
The graphics of the game are good, should I say superb, even, on the NES scale. The cutscenes look great and really authentic, I guess Lucasfilm paid good bucks to Beam to make Alec Guinness look like Alec Guinness and capture every seam of C-3PO's body instead of just making him a golden matchstick man with bulging eyes. It's an 8-bit Nintendo game and not even from the most recent end of its library, got to hand it to 'em. The music's good, too. Some John Williams originals, some remixes, some original music which might be a bit repetitive, but quite decent and none too far from the atmosphere.
|Ben Kenobi? Boy, am I glad to see you. Like |
really, really glad.
It has been a habit of mine to nitpick whenever a game is based on a movie I like, but I must say it's quite unfair in the case of Star Wars. For an 8-bit game, it's surprisingly true to the movie. OK, just to get some stuff out of the way: I don't remember Luke invading the Jawa sandcrawler with his blaster blazing to save R2-D2. Save him from what, exactly? Are the Jawas such lousy, heinous businessmen they kidnap the robots they first sell for good money? I don't get it. What's the deal with the tall, two-legged cave monsters that look and act like Chozo in Metroid? Where's Obi-Wan's crib, why does he live on the bottom of a damn cave? The game raises a lot of questions, but a few gaps in the plot and atmosphere are not the problem. Cryptic ways to make progress and goofy gameplay are. Oh no, this ain't going to be an easy trip, not for the mind, the body or the spirit. You must learn much more than the ways of the Force to beat this bad motherfucker.
The moment you press Start, you see a pretty impressive cutscene of an Imperial ship shooting at Princess Leia's escort, and then, C-3PO and R2-D2's escape pod crashlanding on Tatooine. Awesome atmosphere, right from the start. We are told that Owen and Luke bought two droids from Jawas. Well, then C-3PO shows up on the screen and tells Luke not to deactivate him (sir), it wasn't his fault. R2-D2 is "faulty and malfunctioning", and disappeared, babbling on about his mission. Quite a fast tempo to all of this, but at least everything's going in accordance to the movie. Owen and Beru are never seen, nor do they get killed, though - it's a Nintendo game! Anyway, the game begins from the Tatooine desert and we're controlling Luke's landspeeder from a top-down view. Sorry, did I say controlling? We can't, it automatically moves into a cave. Welcome to the primary user interface: a 2D platformer. Luke looks like Jay in the European version of Journey to Silius, almost identical actually. Jumping isn't fun. Luke has minimal traction, and there are many small platforms, with spikes or sharp stalactites all around. If that isn't enough to convince you of the game's unfair ways, falling from heights also kills you or at least drains a humongous portion of your health. The health bar is there for nothing. There is absolutely nothing in this game that would only take one single tick away from your health bar; just a small drop of acid takes two or three. A head-on collision with some enemies such as Tuskens and those Metroid rip-offs I mentioned kills you instantly almost every time. Your objective here is simply to get to the end, and get a blaster with a faster firing rate. There's a sign on the cave wall that says "Exit" - pretty funny. What is this, some sort of torturous theme park?
|Like I said: much more than that, I'm afraid. |
Could we skip to the infinite patience of the
|Oh, Chewie said that? Where is that oaf of fur, |
by the way?
|Don't mess with me, I'm to be a Jedi.|
|"I've been looking forward to this for a long time."|
"Yes, I bet you have." BANG! One of my
favourite scenes in Star Wars, vintage Harrison
Chewbacca is nowhere to be seen and Darth Vader (the greatest movie villain of all time - BAR NONE!) only appears in the Game Over screen, the game is frustratingly difficult and the controls really aren't even near perfect, but Star Wars still holds a fair deal of sentimental value to me, and even today, I can easily recognize it as relatively real, authentic Star Wars merchandise. Certainly not the worst movie license of the times out there, far from it. Even nice to return to, once in a while, to tear up a few excessive nerves.
GRAPHICS : 9.2
SOUND : 8.7
PLAYABILITY : 6.1
LIFESPAN : 7.0
CONCLUSION : 6.4
|GB VERSION (1992)|
The graphics are as much of exactly the same as they can possibly be on a small, black 'n' white screen. The sprites are bigger, the cutscenes have only tiny portraits of the characters' faces, and there's a capacity-related nuisance which affects gameplay to some degree - you can't see the direction of conveyor belts. It's all too detailed, as well; enemies have a violent tendency to mix with the background. The music's identical to that of the NES version. Still works, and I still think the cantina theme from the movie is better in the game than it was in the movie!
|Would be nice to see where |
I'm hurled to next.
|Still just as confusing and |
cryptic. Good thing I had the
right path fresh in my
Even that huge nuisance pushed aside, the Game Boy version of Star Wars is still better than the NES version. It's notably easier, also. You don't have to get one Falcon shield in this game, the asteroid stage is a piece of cake since you don't have to do anything else but steer the Falcon to either one of the bottom corners of the screen and remain there for its whole duration. It's amazing how much effect better controls have on the Death Star. So, I wouldn't go proclaiming this the Star Wars game of the ages, but considerable Game Boy entertainment.
GRAPHICS : 8.5
SOUND : 8.5
PLAYABILITY : 6.7
LIFESPAN : 7.0
CONCLUSION : 6.8
GameRankings: 64.92% (GB)