|NES VERSION (1992)|
RELEASED: March 1992
AVAILABLE ON: GB, NES
DEVELOPER(S): NMS Software (GB), Lucasfilm Games (NES)
PUBLISHER(S): Ubisoft (GB), JVC (NES)
Facebook's new poll system works quite well. I asked the simple question: "Best Star Wars movie?", and 17 of 25 voters answered "The Empire Strikes Back". I've got to say, I agree with them. The middle part of a trilogy's often my favourite anyway (Aliens, Saw II, The Two Towers, Dead Man's Chest etc.), but The Empire Strikes Back is special. It introduces a whole new cast of amazing supporting characters, and ends in a whole series of ultimate cliffhangers, which makes it even that more astounishing. It's an amazing movie, one of my all-time favourites. The Star Wars video game series on the NES came to a halt with The Empire Strikes Back; Nintendo decided to go for a reboot on the SNES, which turned out to be a very essential move. Game Boy, on the other hand, went on to get a port of the "Super" version of Return of the Jedi. Was the NES game really that bad and the Game Boy game that good? Yes to the first, no to the second. Or should I say, the NES game is completely useless, and although the Game Boy version is once again better, it's not that special either.
Control, control! You must learn control!
Darth Vader has become obsessed with the young Jedi apprentice Luke Skywalker, and finally locates him in a rebel base on the icy planet of Hoth. While investigating a fallen meteor, which turns out to be the Imperial surveillance droid sent after him, Luke finds himself trapped and has a vision of the late Obi-Wan Kenobi. The apparition tells Luke to travel to the Dagobah system and have the last remaining Jedi master, Yoda, carry out Obi-Wan's unfinished work as Luke's mentor. When the Empire manages to destroy the Hoth base despite strong resistance by the Rebel Alliance, Luke and R2-D2 flee to Dagobah, while Han Solo, Leia, C-3PO and Chewbacca seek asylum in Cloud City.
Yeah, so like I said before, The Empire Strikes Back is most definitely my favourite Star Wars movie. Took me a while to realize that, though - as a kid, I was more into Return of the Jedi, since I happened to be a fan of the Ewoks spin-off. In time, Empire grew on me. It's really rich when it comes to character development, cinematography, everything. Once again, it's just simply amazing. Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, which will be reviewed very soon, is one of the top movie licenses ever. As the case was with the Game Boy version of Star Wars, I had no idea there was also a game based on Empire on the NES and the Game Boy, up until last year when I started to do research on Star Wars games for this blog. Of course I was excited, since Star Wars wasn't half bad. Well, The Empire Strikes Back isn't half good.
|That's a lot of ice. Too much ice to go with |
these lacking controls.
Once again, when we start the game we could go all fanboy/girl on it. In the game, you willingly enter the wampa's cave and your actual objective is to fight it for no apparent reason. I won't do it, though - rant it to death I mean. The game is really not worth it. The ice cave is like a maze, and it has a lot of dead ends. You pretty much need to find your lightsaber first, as Obi-Wan oh, so disruptingly states in a sudden dialogue screen that just appears out of nowhere after your first few steps. Initially, you ride a taun taun, which you can dismount at any time. It's really weak. Apparently it takes damage from your lightsaber, dies from the first slip to cold water whereas you can afford three or four slips, and controlling it and blasting away at surveillance droids at the same time is hard. The taun taun has absolutely no use in the game besides the extra health meter. You might think only a large animal companion like the taun taun would allow you to jump higher, but that's not true either. You can actually jump much higher than a taun taun by using Luke's superjump ripped straight off Super Mario Bros. 2. An even more powerful superjump is your first Force upgrade in the game.
The gameplay's quite putrid, Star Wars was way more co-operative. There are invisible walls all over the place. You can shoot in any direction, but whenever you crouch, Luke pretty much decides on the direction himself, like in many NES games that have this sort of multi-directional feature. The lack of traction rears its ugly head one more time, and you can pretty much guess how much of a nuisance it is in a place that has tiny, moving, and moreover, ICY platforms with crazy droids flying over them and shooting at you.
|Yeah, that wampa's definitely mooning you.|
|Scruffy? Well, these are the best graphics |
you'll get out of this game.
After the AT-AT massacre, it's time to evacuate the base in perhaps the longest stage of the game... which again, has two boss fights. Another Walker, and another Imperial probe droid. Wow. Imaginative. At this point, my final opinion on the game started to change a little. From the beginning, I had thought it was shit, but at this point, I was kind of getting used to its worst qualities, and just thought it was so boring that if I ever beat it, I will never so much as spit on it again. Your primary objective here, by the way, is to save Princess Leia from something. While you're doing it, Obi-Wan appears - a bit late, I'd say - and tells you to go to the Dagobah system. Well, that then becomes your primary objective. So to hell with Leia, I guess, we're off to find an ancient Jedi in a freakin' swamp. I'll speed this up a little, now, 'cause it's the end of the game I want to make a special note of.
Like AVGN said in his review, the Dagobah swamp is ridiculous. It's this game's Death Star; conquer it, and you've basically conquered the game. What I wanted to say - and this is not a fanboy rant, I assure you - is that it's clear this game was rushed, and perceived as no more than a quickie just for the fun of it by Lucasfilm Games. It was never meant to be good. You know why it's obvious? 'Cause the story ends here, in a totally different way from the trilogy. It's like they always knew they wouldn't make a Return of the Jedi for the NES, so they screwed the movie's plot altogether. There is no reason for this game's existence, not even for Lucasfilm. They weren't really expecting to make money, and they didn't, the game was a flop.
|They decided to make up for his nearly complete |
absence in the previous game by overutilizing
him. You'll see.
The Empire Strikes Back is an occasionally near-playable, but useless, hapless and extremely boring game for the NES. It's moderately ugly, it sounds absolutely horrible, it's ultimately tedious to play no matter how you look at it, and as a canonical, official piece of cult Star Wars merchandise, it doesn't quite work since the story and atmosphere are both full of holes. I suggest you look into the better, and moreover, COMPLETE trilogy of games on the SNES before even testing this one out.
GRAPHICS : 6.0
SOUND : 5.1
PLAYABILITY : 5.1
LIFESPAN : 4.5
CONCLUSION : 4.9
|GB VERSION (1992)|
The difference in control and comfort of gameplay is initially exactly the same as between the NES and Game Boy versions of Star Wars. The controls respond a bit better, traction's better, and what still amazes me, there are less invisible walls, which are usually Game Boy's biggest problem with any platformer, including its flagship Super Mario Land! However, this one's a bit too stiff. The lightsaber has crappy range, and collision detection altogether seems to be at a fatal low. Not only do crystal clear hits from the lightsaber ultimately miss according to the program, but shots from the blaster sometimes go straight through the enemies! Oh yeah, and guess what? Any boss takes a million hits to kill as it is.
|Not this icy shithole again.|
|The ST's not exactly the most |
GRAPHICS : 6.3
SOUND : 5.0
PLAYABILITY : 5.5
LIFESPAN : 5.0
CONCLUSION : 5.3
GameRankings: 66.50% (GB)