keskiviikko 13. huhtikuuta 2011

REVIEW - Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1994)

GENRE(S): Action / Platform
RELEASED: October 1994
AVAILABLE ON: GB, GG, SNES, Wii Virtual Console
DEVELOPER(S): Realtime Associates (GB), Sculptured Software, LucasArts (SNES)
PUBLISHER(S): THQ, Black Pearl (GB, GG), JVC (SNES), LucasArts (Wii)

Return of the Jedi was my favourite Star Wars movie when I was a kid, due to the fact that I loved the Ewoks spin-off. When I matured some, The Empire Strikes Back overwhelmingly took that spot. However, Return of the Jedi is almost just as good. No matter what you think about Ewoks, you can't deny that Return of the Jedi is another great classic, in this series that has three great movies, two good movies and one "movie of the week", so to say. Critical reception to Return of the Jedi was initially very mixed, and it still is today. Most fans love it just as much as the last one. Interestingly, the reception to the last game in the Super Star Wars trilogy was just as mixed. Some critics that had praised the previous game blazed at it because "there was nothing new", while some regarded it the best game in the series. I'm with the latter on this one: it might be just like the two previous games, but that's the idea - it's a trilogy! Besides, I disagree with those who say this game offers nothing new. I think that once again improved gameplay, atmosphere and respect for players' feelings are quite enough to make Return of the Jedi an enjoyable, fresh experience. At least in this one you have some slight, faint hope of making it to the final boss honourably! ...But that's about it...

Strong am I with the Force, but not that strong

Nice and easy does it. A soft landing, finally.
Jedi knight Luke Skywalker returns to his home planet of Tatooine together with Leia and Chewbacca to rescue the imprisoned Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt's palace. Meanwhile, a new Death Star is being constructed, and Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader's Sith master, arrives to oversee the construction work in person. While the rest of the rebel alliance stays on the forest moon of Endor to plot a concentrated attack on the yet incomplete Imperial space station, Luke willingly enters the Death Star, to confront Darth Vader one last time and attempt to bring his father back from the dark side of the Force.

The graphics are once again improved to the point there really is no more capacity to go around. The Mode 7 sequences are smooth, and the ones in which you control the Millennium Falcon's turret are in seamless, full 3D, which was pretty much unparalleled work from a third-party developer at the time. The standard 2D graphics are very detailed, although at times, the environment's kind of flat. The sound's just what you'd expect after two games that were very strong in that department. This is some truly heartfelt Star Wars schtick, I love it.

An awesome move.
After the mayhem and emotional torment Super Star Wars and Empire put me through, I was very nervous going into Return. The game starts off a lot easier than either one of the previous games. The first stage is a Mode 7 landspeeder sequence, in which you don't have to shoot anything, you don't even have to concentrate on steering the vehicle. You just need to dodge rocks and jump over some occasional chasms. The second stage is the pathway to Jabba's palace, and you can already choose your character between Luke, Chewie and Leia. Luke's the same as always, but since he's a Jedi knight now, you have Force spells at your disposal from the very beginning, including the healing spell and one in which he throws the lightsaber at an enemy and you can then remotely control the weapon to do some extra damage. Very cool. Leia has a similar somersault attack to that of Luke's, but her normal attacks have crappy range. Chewie is the only character in this stage of the game to have a blaster at his disposal, which obviously makes him essential in long-range combat. Sometimes, you simply need a long-range weapon; you don't want to get caught between two enemies in this game. That spells death.

Leia at least attempting to kick some ass in
Jabba's dance hall.
The bosses in the game are difficult throughout the line, they're pretty much THE challenge of the game. They take a million hits, each and every one of them. Luke's essential to use in boss fights since he has the Force on his side. You wouldn't believe how much one or two healing spells per fight can help. As you progress, the game turns out to be very difficult in general, and Palpatine is one of the meanest motherfuckers ever to appear as a boss in any game - but the game manages to entertain with its difficulty on a whole new level, it never borders on impossible quite like its predecessors. The game's pretty generous on health items, and checkpoints turn up often in the form of R2-D2, which is definitely a first in this series. Also, you can start over from the last checkpoint as long as you have continues left. When you don't have any left, you'll have to start any stage all over, but at least you've still got a password to go on. This is one of two things the Super Star Wars series needed: forgiveness.

The other thing Super Star Wars needed was better level design, and in my opinion, Return of the Jedi manages to impress with that quality as well. There are many different stages and different types of them - all of these sequences did not happen in the movie in any shape or form, but it doesn't matter. They still fit the bill, and don't affect the mood and atmosphere in any way.

Looks awesome in motion.
It might be nearly impossible to beat, but at least it isn't impossible to play and enjoy. Besides, if you are lucky enough to make it to Palpatine, you can simply write down the password and keep trying, you never have to repeat your very possible success in the previous areas again. You still have to fly the Millennium Falcon and blow that shard of crap they call the Death Star to smithereens, but after you've done away with Palpatine, you've pretty much done away with the game. That guy is a serious prick.

Yep, I pretty much regard Return of the Jedi as the best game in the Super Star Wars trilogy. It has the best atmosphere and level design out of all three games, and it's challenging in a much more amusing way, which also makes it the most lasting and replayable Super Star Wars game. As a personal sidenote... I must say my love for Ewoks hasn't gone anywhere. I love playing as Wicket, and this is the only game in history I can do that in. It's not worth an additional point, but it's worth this special note.

SOUND : 9.3


Making a game entitled Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi for the Game Boy wasn't quite as weird as making one for Sega Game Gear; after all, Nintendo pretty much owned the rights to use the "Super" exclamation. This Game Boy version is a comprehensible, and actually somewhat expected release. To remind you, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were both released for the NES and Game Boy. Then, LucasArts decided to reboot the franchise on the SNES. In 1994, the lifespan of the NES came to an end, but Game Boy was still going strong. Since it never got a Return of the Jedi game, Realtime Associates and Black Pearl took the simple way out and ported Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi to Game Boy. How can such an audiovisually pleasing, physical game work on the Game Boy?

Mess No. 1: the bike chase.
Well, it's not surprising that it can't. Let's start with the graphics: can you spell "one-dimensional"? Most of the game's difficulty level is based solely on graphics. It's rather weird: in some levels, there are no details at all, while in some, there are so much details that enemies are easily camouflaged in the background. The one Mode 7 sequence of the game proves why Mode 7 should've never even been tested on the original Game Boy. Probably wasn't "tested" in the core sense of the word before they made this game. It's a mess. Remember the Millennium Falcon's Death Star infiltration? Well, congratulations to you if you can make out the ground levels the obstacles are on. The music is horrible. Just a couple of tunes, circulated and remixed from the beginning to the end, in genuine Game Boy fidelity. Kind of reminds me of those good old Mario educationals.

Mess No. 2: the attack on
Death Star.
The one thing you must do before even trying this game is that you must forget its name. Yes, it is a port of the Super Nintendo game. Quite faithful one in terms of progress, just a few stages are cut. But, we are two primary action buttons short, so no Force spells this time around. As if you would need them, anyway, because the game is easy - one of the easiest games I've ever played on the Game Boy. The total graphical flatness of the game is the only thing that really poses any true challenge. You can stand right next to Jabba the Hutt and beat the shit out of him, no problem, no health lost. Luke's famous whirl attack, which of course is also in Leia's repertoire, but I prefer Luke, is pretty much inpenetrable. In other words, you can easily pummel Boba Fett, Darth Vader and even Palpatine himself to another dimension with the whirl attack, never even breaking a sweat. You can also use Luke's lightsaber to deflect blaster shots back at enemies. This is like "Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi on the SNES in five minutes", you can simply run through it until you get to the Falcon bits, which are pretty much impossible to beat without resorting to trial and error. Oh, but you can definitely afford some trial and error, there are no game overs. Some stages are frustratingly lengthy, though, and all of them don't even have checkpoints at all.

The Game Boy version of Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is not exactly an awful game, it's just one of those games that make me wonder the purpose behind it; it's a needless port, no doubt about it. It's playable at least to some certain extent, I guess that's all that matters when we're talking about an old school handheld game.

SOUND : 4.5


a.k.a. Return of the Jedi, Super Return of the Jedi

GameRankings: 65.00% (GB), 83.00% (SNES)

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