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Super Empire Strikes Back

1993 JVC (Lucasarts)

Super Nintendo



Before the current prequels there was a sort of early-90's revival of Starwars, begining with the re-release of action figures and toys as well as NES, Gameboy, and SNES games. The technology at the time couldn't give us games as immersive as Starwars Galaxies but did a good job for what they had.

The SNES Starwars games consist mainly of side scrolling action platformer gameplay with a few levels of mode 7 shooting mixed in. These play mechanics are somewhat limiting and liberties have to be taken with the story a little (I've always thought a 16 bit Starwars game would be better realized in an action RPG setting similar to Zelda myself.) The first few levels have Luke on Hoth fighting Wampas and Imperial Probe droids, as well as wierd crystal-type monsters, mynocks, etc. Eventually you end up in cloud city and fight Darth Vader in the final showdown.

The game looks great and has animation comprable to Disney games of the same period such as the Lion King or Alladin. The problem is when you have too much animation in a game like this you end up sacrificing some control to some extent. Say you're running, then change direction. You continue to run forward a little bit while Luke goes through the turning around animation, which means if you don't get it just right you screw up and fall off the cliff/get hit by the Wampa/miss the jump/etc.

On the plus side Luke is very versitile with his Jedi powers and can do all kinds of crazy flips and such, shoot stuff with a blaster, and gets to use the lightsaber from the very begining of the game (unlike Super Star Wars, but I guess this fits with the story.) You can do a jumping Ninja wheel-type slash in mid air and also block enemy blaster shots with the lightsaber. Also the lightsaber sound is taken straight out of the movies.

But all is not right with the force. This is one of those games where enemies relentlessly generate. So you kill a wombat, walk back a few inches, and the wombat is there again. This leads to situations where you're trying to scout ahead for a critical jump and an enemy is constantly generating right in front of you. Also the "camera" wants to keep you right in the middle of the screen at all times but seems to lag a half second behind, which is very evident when you change direction. This can get pretty disorganizing and lead me to screw up several times. Couple this with with Luke's apparent slow reaction time due to his fluid animation and you can see the controls can be a bit bitchy. I suppose you can't become a Jedi overnight, but still it shouldn't be this hard.

Still the game has a lot going for it and once you get past the wierd controls you end up having a good time. It is Star Wars after all.

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