Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Great Playthrough - Game 66: Super Star Wars

It's a bit fuzzy I know... no not the photo - my hair!
Super Star Wars
Released on: SNES
Played on: SNES  
Release date: 1992

You may have noticed that there is a lot of Star Wars love in our house. The fact that I have already reviewed three Star Wars licensed games on this playthrough so far (The Force Unleashed, Racer Revenge, and The Clone Wars) should give you this idea, but this is the first game I've played that is based on the original trilogy and not the prequels / part of the expanded universe.

So by the laws of Star Wars, that should mean it is better, right?

Well.... no.

Don't get me wrong, it's a fun romp. And as it's on my favourite console, of course I am biased to like it's well drawn graphics and wonderful 16-Bit interpretations of John Williams' expressive score. And it's a lot of fun once you load it up.

But it is hard - this is the era that the phrase "Nintendo-Hard" comes from, and boy is it applicable here.

Super Star Wars is a run-and-gun platformer. In the first level, you control Luke as he traverses the desert trying to find the escape pod that he has seen crashing to Tatooine...

.. Wait. That didn't happen in the film....

There are a few liberties taken with the plot (although none as large as some other licensed games have done in the past) which on the whole, I didn't mind, as it just streamlines the plot down to making sense (and getting to the bits that make good video-game levels).

The levels are long and full of enemies that keep re-spawning until you leave that part of the screen, there are no mid points, no save points, if you die you go back to the beginning of the LONG level, and you start again. So that's one are of annoyance.

A second annoyance is that because the enemies respawn more randomly than an Rand() command on Excel, you can't PLAN your way through a level. And since Luke has only ever heard of aiming in 8 directions, and the desert floor isn't flat, so you go up and down little tiny hills, it can be a nightmare to actually hit the enemies that are approaching until they are almost on top of you!

And then, once you get to the end of the level, you have to fight the Sarlaac pit monster (which looks more like a sandworm from Dune and ALSO doesn't belong in a game based on the first movie) which is a ridiculously hard boss for a first level!

It may sound like I'm moaning, and I am. I really wanted to love this game and the mechanics are sound. In many ways it is similar to Ghosts n' Goblins and you all know how much I loved that game. But that rewarded you for progress, and as you could learn the layouts (and it has mid points in the levels) you always felt like you were moving forward, even if it was inch by inch. Whereas Super Star Wars just gets frustrating. After losing all my lives and continues once, I finally managed to defeat the boss at the end of level one, at which point I got onto the landspeeder level - which is easier, once you figure out what the controls are and what the hell you are trying to achieve...

And then I got to level three - where you are trying to climb up a sandcrawler. With pixel perfect jumping, respawning enemies, and no mid-level save points... and I died again.

I'm not proud of it, but that was the point that I gave up. I love a game with a challenge, but Super Star Wars just felt like it was unfairly difficult, and I wasn't getting anywhere further no matter how many times I practiced the levels, because there's just a little too much randomness in the respawning of enemies etc to plan your route.

And unfortunately for me, the difficulty was the deal breaker. I'm sure that later levels depicting some of the more exciting events of the film will be fun to play, but it felt like I would NEVER get there, and the slightly bland level design of the levels I already played didn't help...  

So I popped it out of the SNES and back on the shelf.

Sorry Star Wars - I tried, but I failed. The force was clearly not strong enough with me.

Rating: 6/10
Time played: 45-50 minutes
Would I play it again? I might do, but I suspect I still won't get past level three!