N64 Star Wars

Alien Brigade – By Atari
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  Star Wars Episode 1: Racer - By LucasArts

Ever wondered how Episode I would’ve turned out if Anakin Skywalker stayed on Tatooine? LucasFilms is no stranger to “alternative universe” theories, so let’s entertain that thought. Let’s say Anakin never joined the Jedi Order and became a professional pod racer instead, taking part in high-stakes races across the galaxy and living the fast life of a gambler at the salty age of nine. Well, Star Wars Episode I: Racer lets you get behind the controls of your own pod racer and live that dream. Here’s your chance to take Anakin and his signature pod racer to the professional circuit as you blaze through deserts, weave through canyons, and leave the competition in your dust. If you place well in the races, you’ll win prize money depending on the payout table for that race. As your wealth increases, you’re able to upgrade your pod racer with parts that you purchase from Watto’s junkyard. The more money you put into the machine, the better it will handle and the faster it will be, so upgrading is an absolute must. Anakin is the main character of the game, but you can choose other racers as well, some of which should be familiar to Star Wars fans. You’ll even square off against Anakin’s old rival Sebulba. Episode I: Racer is very polished, with interesting course designs, authentic soundtrack, and detailed character models. The Expansion Pak allows for enhanced textures without slowing down the gameplay, and that’s a good thing because the races themselves are incredibly fast. Though the game is designed well, it doesn’t offer much outside of the circuit mode, so it can become stale after a while. Nonetheless, it’s a very capable racing game that should appeal to Star Wars fans and anyone else who enjoys a good, fast racer.

Review by wyldephang

7/10

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  Star Wars: Rogue Squadron - By LucasArts

Climb into your favorite Star Wars starfighter and join the ranks of the Alliance as you defend the galaxy from the Imperial menace in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. An arcade-style combat sim, you’ll find no blaster skirmishes or lightsaber duels here as all of the action takes place in the air. Luckily, the Nintendo 64’s analog control is tailor-made for 360-degree combat, and that’s a good thing because you’ll need to pull off magnificent aerial moves and engage TIE Fighters in dogfights over valleys and mountains. The story mode is a series of mission-based objectives. Sometimes, you’ll need to escort a convoy of Alliance vehicles to a checkpoint, and other missions have you defending buildings. My favorite is the classic “seek and destroy all Imperial scum.” If you’re shot down during a mission, you’ll respawn in a fresh starfighter, but should you fail an objective you’ll need to restart the mission. However, the radar is always guiding you toward your objectives, so it’s generally easy to keep track of things. After each mission you’ll get a medal which reflects how well you did. Initially, you’ll be piloting the iconic X-Wing, but as the game progresses you’ll commandeer A-Wings, Y-Wings, and other vehicles. There are some tactical differences among the starfighters: the A-Wing is fast, the Y-Wing sturdy, and the X-Wing balanced. Knowing each vehicle’s strengths will be an asset as you replay the missions. Rogue Squadron was one of the first games to showcase the potential of Nintendo’s Expansion Pak: the textures are highly detailed and authentic to the movies. Though it lacks multiplayer options, the single-player mode is a lot of fun and you’ll feel as if you were recreating your favorite dogfights from the movies—the originals, of course. Just the way Ben Kenobi would’ve wanted it.

Review by wyldephang

8/10

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  Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire - By LucasArts

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was conceived in 1996 to expand the storyline between Episodes V and VI of the film saga. As expected, the game features multiple movie tie-ins and cameo appearances by characters like Luke Skywalker and Boba Fett, but the player controls Dash Rendar, a freelance smuggler who is aiding the Alliance in their campaign against the Sith. SOTE is essentially a first- or third-person shooter—depending on which camera angle you’re using—with the occasional space combat segment thrown in. Your goal is to uncover a conspiracy involving the crime boss Prince Xizor, who has placed a bounty on Luke Skywalker’s head. To bring Xizor to justice, you’ll need to fight your way through stormtroopers, droids, wampas, and other recognizable foes from the Star Wars franchise. Most stages will have you blasting enemies on foot, picking up power-ups for your pistol, and fighting bosses like the AT-ST walker and dianoga sewer monster. Other levels have you racing through Mos Eisley on a swoop bike or taking out Imperial forces on Hoth in a snowspeeder. You’ll also have a chance to pilot Dash’s spacecraft, the Outrider, for stages involving dogfights with TIE Fighters. Whether you’re on foot or in the sky, SOTE provides an authentic Star Wars experience that is brought to life with sound effects and music sampled directly from the films. The game is well designed, but it’s unmistakably an early game in the Nintendo 64 library, which is to say that the graphics and mechanics are a little crude. Movement is very slippery; if you’re not careful, you can easily slip off a ledge and plummet to your death. Also, the Outrider stages lack the depth of games like Rogue Squadron. But overall, SOTE is a worthwhile investment for Star Wars fans.

Review by wyldephang

7/10

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