|Title: Super Star Wars
Rom Player: ZSNES
Reviewer: Bad Mr. Frosty
Synopsis: If you were to ask me what one of the best 2D platformer games for the Super Nintendo was, resting comfortably among the top would be Super Star Wars. For a movie-based game, this title succeeded on two levels: It was a fun game to play, regardless of the license it was based on, and it was completely respectful to its source material.
If you don't know the plot of the original Star Wars (and how has your coma been?), it goes a little something like this: R2-D2 and C-3PO, two renegade droids on the run from the evil Empire, crash land on the desert planet of Tatooine to deliver a message to Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the last Jedi Knights. Along the way, they meet farmboy Luke Skywalker who intercepts the message, leading him to unexpected adventures with new allies, and culminates in the destruction of the Death Star. Oh yeah, some guy named Darth Vader isn't going to sit by and let that just happen either.
Whew! Anyway, the plot of Star Wars is worked masterfully into a multi-level adventure that lets you control three of the heroes (Luke, Han Solo and Chewbacca... but no Princess Leia, as found in the NES version) as they save the princess and save the galaxy (Until Super Empire Strikes Back). However, in order to make the game a little more action-oriented, Luke and company do a few things you won't find in the movie: In addition to killing the Sarlaac with a mere blaster, Luke's landspeeder is now equipped with a cannon to fend off Womp Rats and Jawas as you drive towards the Jawa sandcrawler to rescue R2-D2. No droid purchases with Uncle Owen or dreams of visiting Toshi Station for those beloved power converters. No sir, it's a full-on Jawa massacre in the finest style. Well, you do have to take liberties for some of the slower-paced dialogue-laden parts of the film. But from there, the plot follows the movie, from the Jundland Wastes to meet Obi-Wan Kenobi to visiting the cantina to charter a flight to Alderaan with Han Solo.... It all happens. Eventually, you save Princess Leia, deactivate the tractor beam, and fly down the trench to destroy the space station's reactor, all in one game. Today's gaming market would undoubtedly produce multiple titles based on the same movie, such as Star Wars: Episode IV: Jawa Massacre*, or Star Wars: Episode IV: Death Star Trench Run*. You get the complete movie experience here, minus the trash compactor scene with the Dianoga, and the Millenium Falcon's escape from the Death Star, both of which were found on the original NES version. (Perhaps that was being saved for never-released Star Wars: Episode IV: Dianoga Battle* and Star Wars: Episode IV: Escape from the Death Star* games?) Platform action and vehicle racing in just one game? The Episode I movie game could have learned a lot from this one.
Graphically, the game still holds up really well, due to wonderful 2D art that actually looks like the characters and locations from the film. Everything from the Cantina Band in the Mos Eisley background, to the then-impressive scaling and rotation of the driving levels, to the smooth ride down the Death Star trench, the game provides an accurate world for gamers to play in. Also included between levels were digitized still-shot cinematics that looked like they were taken from the movie to keep the story moving along. You never took this game for anything else other than Star Wars due to non-generic enemies and levels. It even had the opening words crawl into space as seen in the film.
Now for sound. Before every game offered CD-quality sound, 16-Bit systems had to make due with the their limited processors and do the best they could. For this game, they certainly did. The game made fine use of the music, sound effects and even a limited bit of voice from the movie. Jawas screamed "Utinni" when you took them down. Tusken Raiders did their frightening howl. Old Ben even told you to "Use the Force". Lightsabers hummed. Blasters sounded right. For 1992, these features were still something of a marvel. Today, it just makes you look fondly back at a great classic game. Again, the NES title had a feature that the Super Nintendo version didn't: Princess Leia's theme.
Control was solid for the most part, although the sliding got a little frustrating at time, and I have a problem with platformers that send dozens of enemies after you while you're navigating a series of really tricky jumps. This wasn't challenging. It was frustrating. But you would always feel that sigh of relief once you got past that difficult part and could continue on your way. Level designs were generally good. Climbing the Sandcrawler was the most frustrating part, as any hit would normally send you to the bottom of the transport. The same goes for getting lost in Mos Eisley Spaceport. Still, curious players were often rewarded with secret rooms and hidden power-ups if you looked hard enough, and there was always plenty to do in each level. It seems that a lot of today's reviewers complain that this game was way too hard. I didn't see that problem with it, as I completed it my first day (only to play it over and over....). It's challenging, yes, but not impossible. Fortunately, it had a difficulty adjustment, but didn't have a password setting, unlike the later two games based on Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Despite a few sarcastic moments in this review, I want to make it perfectly clear that I still love this game, as it's one of my favorite Star Wars-based games ever. Lucasarts did such a spectacular job on this game when it was initially released, and that's why it continues to hold up so well now. I would have liked to have seen a few elements in this game that were only found in the NES version (the Dianoga, a playable Princess Leia with theme music, an escape from the Death Star level), but everything balances out so well, it's easy to look past. My only other complaint in regards to not only this game, but the entire Super Nintendo series, is that Lucasarts should have made a compilation disc of these three titles and re-released it by now. With retro-gaming being so popular these days, it would have been a perfect choice.
Best Cheats: Debug Mode
Press A, A, A, A, X, B, B, B, B, Y, X, X, X, X, A, Y, Y, Y, Y, B at the title screen (this must be done the first time around). You should hear a Jawa to confirm the code has worked. Start the game, and you can use these options:
Stage Skip: Press START on controller 2 to move to the next level.
Debug Menu: Press L and R on controller 2 to bring up the debug menu.
Invincibility: During game play, hold A, B, X, Y, and press select. Release the buttons. Now you can also drop through floors by holding DOWN and B.
Play certain stages with whatever music you want:
Here's how to play certain stages with whatever music you want. First, at any time during gameplay, press and hold A, B, X and Y. Press Start while holding down these buttons to access the Sound Test. Now use the Left or Right arrows to select the tune you want. Pressing Up or Down will switch between Music and Sound menus. This code only works with music. Anyway, find whatever tune you want, press A to play it, then press Start to resume the game with the selected tune playing instead of the stage's normal music! In effect you could be playing the very first level of the game while listening to the ending theme! The only places this code doesn't work are the stages where you control a vehicle (stage II and some others).
Game Play: 9
Overall Rating: 9
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