tiistai 3. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - Star Wars: Yoda Stories (1997)

GENRE(S): Action / Adventure
RELEASED: March 1997
DEVELOPER(S): Torus Games (GB), LucasArts (PC)
PUBLISHER(S): THQ (GB), LucasArts (PC)

In 1997, LucasArts produced a Windows desktop game named Yoda Stories, sort of a spiritual sequel to Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures; a collection of puzzle-oriented adventures with a Star Wars theme. Just like Indy's desktop game, Yoda Stories wasn't well received, but two years after its release, it was ported to Nintendo's Game Boy Color, in hopes that it would do better as a handheld game. They ended up with one of the all-time worst products to carry the fine name of Star Wars.

I'd just as soon kiss a Wookiee

During his Jedi training, Luke Skywalker is sent on several errands across the galaxy to investigate disturbances in the Force and just about everything else Master Yoda comes up with.

Let's go back to 1997 for a short, little jiffy. 1997 was a huge year for Star Wars and related merchandise, since it marked the 20th anniversary and the special, revised editions for the whole trilogy. I went to see Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in a Dolby theater, and man, was I pumped up about Star Wars more than ever myself, or what!? I read this review of a game called Yoda Stories for the PC, and it didn't fare too well. I didn't even bother to read the review, I just scooped up the conclusive rating, which was something like 60 out of a possible 100. I thought to myself: it's Star Wars, and back then, anything with the Star Wars brand on it couldn't have been that bad. I forgot my abysmal experiences in the past completely, and when I heard they were making a Game Boy Color port of Yoda Stories, I was pissing myself. When I finally played the game, I was just pissed.

I'm fucking lost.
The graphics aren't really that bad. It's like poor man's Zelda, fairly detailed and colourful. The Star Wars main theme plays ALL THE TIME, in the menu, during Yoda's briefing, all the way through the levels. Not just any version of it, but an off-key MIDI that sounds like it was sequenced by a group of first-graders.

The game is quite easy to explain, and at the same time, it's easy to take care of all the things wrong with it. Yoda gives you a random errand and a key item. You need to travel different locations by foot and "solve puzzles" with other key items to be able to make it to the end and use that given item to conquer the quest. Solving puzzles simply means that you need to find an item and haul it over to some very cryptic location or to some NPC, all the while that lackluster version of the Star Wars theme drills a hole in your skull. Most of this game consists of running around like a moron across an average amount of 20 screens, searching for items, talking irrelevancies with NPC's, and praying for streaks of both luck and patience. Every time you find an item, it flashes on the screen for about ten years before you can move on - you'd think the game crashed or something. I find myself missing Link's quick "look what I found" pose accompanied by the "ta-da-da-daah" jingle every time I find something random in this game.

The items can be found everywhere from some sort of treasure chests to the insides of vehicles. Even tauntauns count as vehicles, which makes one wonder: how does one search a tauntaun for a large key item without gutting it like Han Solo, and therefore killing it? ...My lunch is ready in five minutes, so I'd rather just let that thought be.

Oh, you half-assed landspeeder
sequences, how I miss you.
The lightsaber is the only weapon in the game that has any use, and even that has the tendency of slashing right through enemies, with no visible damage dealt. Sometimes the enemies even magically teleport out of the way, and thirdly, they seem to spawn out of nowhere from time to time. Fourthly - is that a word? - you can't distinguish NPC's from enemies before you see the consequences of contact. The controls are simply horrid. One would think a top-down view automatically results in good traction and straight tracks, but no, Luke moves pretty much the way he wants and keeps bouncing off corners and obstacles.

Under three minutes, Star Wars: Yoda Stories turns from an extremely mildly entertaining, little handheld bundle of irrelevancy into an extremely boring game - one of the most literally boring games I've ever played. It can't quite match Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones when it comes to the most horrible, useless video game merchandise released under the Star Wars name through all eternity, but it really isn't much better. I just hope I can sleep without hearing that God-awful tune play in my head for the whole night.

SOUND : 2.0


GameRankings: 34.92% (GB), 50.00% (PC)

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