Everyone knows about Star Wars, the series is considered by moviegoers the world over to be the perfect blend of action, science fiction and epic storytelling. Naturally, games came out to cash in on the license, some were amazing such as Battlefront, others not so much (Masters of Teras Kasi) Thankfully, I can say that there is a trilogy of games on the Super Nintendo that not only does the series justice but may be the best Star Wars games out there.
Sadly, I have only been able to play through one of them and that is Return of the Jedi. The game starts with the daring rescue of Han Solo from Jabba’s palace and ends with the destruction of the Death Star. All the scenes from the movie are lovingly recreated and even expanded upon. For example, you get to play a couple of stages as Wicket the Ewok who helped the rebels on Endor. In each stage, you are given a selection of characters, usually Luke, Chewie and Han but can also play as Leia. The controls are very simple to learn, each character can jump, attack with either a lightsaber or gun and use special abilities. For example Luke can throw his lightsaber, heal himself and even turn invisible. Unfortunately, these abilities drain his force meter very quickly, and when it is depleted, you will have to find items to replenish it. However, it isn’t just Luke that gets some neat attacks. Chewbacca, gets quite possibly the best ability in a video game. He spins around for a limited time, making himself invincible and dealing damage to anything foolish enough to get close. Not only that, but it regenerates extremely quickly and without the aid of special items. This, naturally, makes him a boss slaying machine.
Speaking of enemies, Super Star Wars has a wealth of adversaries to fight, each with their own tactics and strengths. For example, a stormtroopers usually shoots on sight where a snake waits patiently for you to get close. Usually in games, if the enemies are varied then the bosses aren’t quite as fortunate, thankfully, there is an abundance of unique bosses to battle, each with their own patterns and weaknesses to exploit. They tend to be on the hard side but once you figure out their rhythm,or use Chewie’s spin of justice, they will fall fairly quickly, except the Emperor, he is a pain. Actually, this method of game play is a good representation of the game as a whole. It is difficult at first but once you learn the individual nuances of the characters and levels, it becomes much easier. But don’t let that fool you, your first few rounds will be hard as nails.
While there may be some challenge, you will find plenty of items and powerups to aid your quest. These can be minor such as a simple healing item, or spectacular like a screen clearing thermal detonator. But that’s not all, you will find equipment that make weapons stronger, increase your total health or even increase your total force power. Sadly, when you die, you lose those upgrades and will have to acquire them all over, so be careful.
From what I have written so far, it would seem that this game is all just hack and slash and guns. Fortunately, the game never devolves into tedium, there is the occasional puzzle to solve and plenty of platforming sections to keep you entertained. But there is more, we have several mode 7 sections to play through, such as the speeder bike chase on Endor, or a battle against a horde of Tie Fighters with the Millennium Falcon. While it does keep the game interesting, I find these sections a bit awkward, especially the speeder bike chase. I found it very tricky to avoid obstacles as they seem to come out of nowhere without any warning. This makes that particular section extremely frustrating. But once you get past it, the rest of these sections aren’t too bad.
Finally, lets move onto the sound design. It is amazing, the lightsaber, lasers, ships, explosions, character voices and other minor details all sound like they were taken directly from the movies. This creates a high level of immersion and you feel as though you are actually playing the movie. But what good is a bunch of blips and boops without some fantastic music? Well, I can firmly say that the music throughout is fantastic and, again, fits the themes of the movies.
Overall, Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is a very solid game that does justice to the Star Wars name. Is it a perfect game? No, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t one of the best games in the Super Nintendo Library. If you have a SNES, give it a go.