RetroSpective – Super Star Wars

Super Star Wars InfoThe Force has well and truly awoken, and Star Wars fever has gripped the planet thanks to the long awaited release of The Force Awakens.  However, Star Wars is a franchise steeped in history, and that’s also true with regard to the franchise’s video game heritage.  So, to celebrate I’m heading back to Super Star Wars on the Super Nintendo, the classic 16-bit adaption of A New Hope.

First released in 1992, Super Star Wars may not have been the first Star Wars game, but it was certainly one of the first to truly capture the feel and spirit of the 1977 sci-fi classic.  So much so, that the Super Star Wars titles are still considered to be some of the best movie adaptions you’ll find.  A point reinforced through the game’s recent HD re-release on the PlayStation 4.

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The game’s opening stage on Tatooine.

Super Star Wars is a game that really does utilise the power and technology that was offered by Nintendo’s 16-bit console.  In fact, it’s clear right from the moment you hit the title screen, and hear John Williams’ Star Wars theme play in glorious stereo sound.  This is a factor that was touted as a major selling point back in the 90s, and is a feature that still lives up to the hype even today.

In fact the soundtrack as a whole is excellent, and utilises the full range of the A New Hope’s score.  Yes that does include the Cantina!  It’s not just the soundtrack either, the sound affects are also just as absorbing and accurate.  From the clash of Luke’s Lightsaber, to the sound of Han’s blaster, they all sound just as they do in the film.

This dedication to the presentation is something that flows throughout the game.  Pixel perfect is used far too often when looking back on classic gaming, but when it comes to the Super Star Wars trilogy, it really is justified.  The game feature’s three playable characters, and you’ll find that Luke, Han and Chewwie are recreated down to the last detail.

This is also true of the environments and locations.  Much like the film, most of the game takes place on either Tatooine, or the Death Star.  However, the developers don’t allow this to make the game dull or boring, by exploring a multitude of different areas within these key locations.  Whilst it may not have the range or variety of the latter two games, it certainly doesn’t suffer from a presentation aspect because of this.

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The use of Mode-7 really showcases the graphical qualities of the game.

Additionally, the use of Mode-7 stages not only pushes the game graphically, it also adds diversity to the gameplay.  This comes in the form of the Landspeeder and X-Wing stages that play out in third person, offering a break from the standard gameplay experience.  That’s not to say that you’ll want a break from the core gameplay, as this is actually where Super Star Wars shines the most.

Combining both platforming and action, it was one of the first times that gamers could immerse themselves in the struggles of Tatooine, or as part of the battle to destroy the Death Star.  Within the game player’s will find themselves tackling a variety of side scrolling levels, all of which have enemies in abundance, alongside a larger than life boss to finish off each level.  In fact, if you don’t keep on moving forward, you can often find that enemies will simply continue respawning indefinitely.

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In true Retro fashion the bosses add an element of tactical play to the game, requiring players to work out each bosses strategy to defeat them.

This all isn’t helped by the fact that Super Star Wars is another game that is notorious for it’s high level of difficulty.  Moreover, this first entry is arguably the hardest, given that there are no save files, or even a password system (although there are cheats).  This can be quite a cause of frustration, and does put a slight negative on the experience.

However, thanks to the fun and engaging combat, you’ll find yourself wanting to continually keep coming back. Combat is divided into two main weapons, Luke’s Lightsaber, and the blasters that all three can use.  These blasters can be aimed in an eight point display just like in other classic run and gunners such as Contra, and can also be upgraded.

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Luke’s spinning Lightsaber attack becomes invaluable at certain points in the game.

The blasters are especially useful for ranged combat.  However, nothing quite beats slicing your way through hordes of enemies with the Lightsaber.  Not only is the Lightsaber the strongest weapon, it also offers an invaluable spinning jump attack that renders you near invincible.  This is something you’ll definitely want to make good use of.

Ironically, whilst the combat is engaging and addictive, the same can’t be said for the story.  Here there are more changes made to the plot than a George Lucas Special Edition.  It has all the key moments, and for the most part follows the plot, with it all brought together through some really nice cutscenes.  However, changes had to be made to accommodate for all of the action in the game.

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The bulk of the story is delivered through cutscenes that appear between the levels.

This includes Luke slaughtering his way through a never-ending pile of Jawas, in order to rescue C-3PO and R2-D2, rather than just buying them, and Han or Chewwie having to face down a “Kalwar Boss Monster” before escaping the Cantina to name but a few.  Not only that but the enemies are just as obscure and off the wall as some of the plot points.  Nevertheless, whilst this will annoy many Star Wars fans you have to wonder what sort of a game there would be without having enemies such as scorpions and Kalwar monsters to fill the gaps.

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Whilst accurate to the film, the very short final stage in the X-Wing is a very different experience.

However, despite the alterations to the plot here and there, it thankfully doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment.  This is also true of the difficulty.  As despite presenting a challenge akin to games such as Mega Man, just like the best retro games, the quality of the gameplay makes you want to keep on playing.

Yes it may have it’s flaws and frustrations, and it may be the smallest offering of the three.  However, what Super Star Wars does, is lay the foundations for fantastic trilogy, all whilst still being enjoyable and highly polished in it’s own right.  Make no mistake, the force is strong with this one.

Super Star Wars Verdict

Simon Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that I've written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DudeXChill or @RingsandCoins.

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