lauantai 16. huhtikuuta 2011

REVIEW - Star Wars Episode I: Racer (1999)

N64 VERSION (1999)
GENRE(S): Racing
RELEASED: May 1999
PUBLISHER(S): LucasArts, Nintendo (GB, N64)

Out of all six Star Wars movies, The Phantom Menace spawned the most licensed video games. I'm very tempted to guess that the Lucas empire had to pay big money to critics to ignore the character of Jar Jar Binks and be gentle to the lackluster movie, that's why they needed so many games. Be that as it may, my personal opinion on The Phantom Menace is no secret. In my mind, the movie sucks, but I can't help watching it every now and then, since artificially it's such an important part of the series. The first game that was released on the heels of The Phantom Menace's premiere was non-surprisingly an action-oriented adaptation of the flick. About a month later, just a few days before George's biggest night since 1983, LucasArts presented a racing game based on one of the most central, yet totally irrelevant scenes in the movie. Curious. But dull.

Bantha poodoo

Jake Lloyd : Anakin Skywalker
Andrew Secombe : Watto
Lewis Macleod : Sebulba
Scott Capurro : Fode Annodue
Greg Proops : Beed Annodue
Dominic Armato : Ben Quadinaros
Bob Bergen : Clegg Holdfast
Gregg Berger : Wan Sandage
Dave Fennoy : Toy Dampner
Roger Jackson : Ark "Bumpy" Roose

Star Wars Episode I: Racer is a very simple and quick game to review, for a change. Just as the name implies, it's a racer, pure and simple. Since we're racing with hovercrafts in a futuristic setting, the first comparison to come to mind is obviously WipEout, and since the reviewed game is the Nintendo 64 version, I can't help but think WipEout 64 from the very beginning. There are weapons, too, acquired via periodical upgrades - more familiar shite. Fans of racing games featuring foul play and those chosen few who actually liked The Phantom Menace and its irrelevancies might enjoy it. Me - I'm constantly thinking of all other similar games of the era, games that were released even long before Racer, and how much better and more exciting they were.

WipEout Wars Episode I: The Usual Menace.
The graphics are quite OK on the Nintendo 64 scale - actually I keep on forgetting that it's a Nintendo 64 game, since it looks so "normal". Although Nintendo published this version, I guess they didn't have much say in how the game should look like, which is good - the game shows what the 64 was really capable of at the time. The frame rate is excellent. There is close to no music, only John Williams' "Duel of the Fates" - the best thing that ever came out of the prequel trilogy - plays in the menu screen, while rest of the sound bank is comprised of quite standard sound effects and occasional voiceover samples, by actors from the movie as well as some voiceover staples including LucasArts' golden boy, Guybrush Threepw... sorry, Dominic Armato, and Gregg Berger. The commentary is God damn irritating.

The game's main mode, the Tournament, is quite effortless to beat. Once you take the lead and manage to maintain it for the shortest while, even crashing your vehicle one or two times will definitely not prevent you from winning the race. The lack of true competition leaves an even more stale taste than the get-go, and renders the actual need for foul play quite non-existent.

Like I said, it's fit for some people. Mainly for kids, those adults who can't get enough of racing games, and those who approved of Jar Jar Binks and rest of The Phantom Menace's fluffiness. For a casual competitor, Star Wars Episode I: Racer offers nothing unique except for the Star Wars theme in a gameplay setting that is quite unexpected from the franchise.

SOUND : 6.5


Star Wars Episode I: Racer for the Game Boy Color is a whole different ball game... uh, racing game, from the big boy of the same name. This game is a one-on-one racing game from a top-down view. You simply race against several opponents, stage by stage, and by winning an opponent once, you unlock 'em to your disposal. Out of all the games I've ever played, the look of Racer most reminds me of Micro Machines, a game that I personally consider a cult favourite. What makes Racer for the Game Boy stand out a little is that Game Boy really hasn't got that much quality racing games. I'm not saying Racer is anything too exciting either, but it's quite decent, harmless entertainment.

The graphics are quite good, pretty much of the late 90's Game Boy Color standard. The sound design is exactly the same as in the home version, without the voiceovers, of course. Only "Duel of the Fates" checks in as a menu tune - sounds surprisingly excellent in MIDI, by the way - while stale sound effects rule the rest of the show.

I don't know what the deal rightly is, but I actually enjoyed this game further than the more advanced and serious home version. Maybe it's my fondness to Micro Machines, I don't know, but the point is that the game is playable, mild handheld entertainment, whereas the previous version was lost in the masses of its peers and superiors. I kind of dig it. Relatively fun.

SOUND : 6.3


a.k.a. Pod Racer

GameRankings: 69.44% (GB), 75.78% (N64)

1 kommentti:

  1. I remember this game. I played this for ages on my old PC. I really wish I hadn't gotten rid of it now. Since you've reviewed it I suddenly want to play it again.