Retro Review: Super Star Wars

Super Star Wars

Released: 1993

Platform: Super Nintendo

Publisher: JVC/Nintendo

Developer: Sculptured Software/Lucas Arts

SNESSSWStar Wars is an incredibly important movie series for me. I must have seen A New Hope over a hundred times in my life and that film shall always remain in my top ten movies of all time. I recall my mom taking me to the cinema to watch Return of the Jedi when I was 7 years old and I can still distinctly remember being so excited. The afternoon showing couldn’t come quick enough. Of course you can’t mention Star Wars without The Empire Strikes Back. Being honest this was my least favourite of the trilogy when I was younger but as I’ve gotten older I can fully appreciate its wonderful darkness and sombre tone compared to the other movies.

When I mention Star Wars I’m referring to the original trilogy and not the CGI borefest prequels. In fact we don’t discuss them in our house and I try to forget they exist. Although I will share my memory of seeing The Phantom Menace. I saw it on the opening day at the cinema. Again, I went with my mom which had a sense of déjà vu considering we’d seen the last Star Wars movie together some 16 years prior. The whole cinema cheered during the opening credits. The excitement was palpable. It’s as if we’d all waited for this moment, like holding your breath until it becomes unbearable. By the end of the movie you could sense the collective disappointment. It was like someone had promised you an amazing present, asked you to close your eyes then farted in your face! For the record I’m very excited to see what J.J. Abrams does with the Star Wars universe.

I have extremely fond memories of Super Star Wars so it was great fun to see if it stood the test of time. The first thing to hit me was the beautiful renditions of the John Williams score. This is probably some of the best music I’ve heard on the SNES. Although it isn’t original, the fact that they have managed to put such faithful recreations on the cartridge is simply amazing.

The game starts with that iconic scrolling text and a Star Destroyer attacking a rebel ship. An escape pod jettisons, landing on Tatooine. It really is a wonderful way to open up the game and gets you more drawn into the experience. As I’ve said before, the SNES has some amazing intros.

You start off as Luke Skywalker on the dune sea with the gameplay taking the form of a side scrolling shooter. Of course Luke isn’t a Jedi at this point so he has his trusty blaster to fend off the enemies. Luke is quite agile considering he isn’t even a Jedi, somersaulting around and sliding across the dusty terrain. Luke shoots endless attacking enemies including womp rats and scorpions that can fire laser-like substances from their tails. This all leads to a battle with the almighty Sarlacc pit monster.

The graphics are very good with visual representations of the characters and locations of the Star Wars universe being instantly recognisable. Even the health bar looks like a light sabre.

Along the way there are upgrades for your blaster which make life considerably easier. Superbly animated cutscenes lead you to your next encounter, which on this occasion is a mode 7 feast for the eyes. In this level you control Lukes land speeder searching for R2D2. You’re being attacked by pesky Jawas who let out their famous cry when you take one down.

One of my issues with the game is that these sections don’t quite work as well as they look. A lot of it is to do with trial and error and it’s difficult to see where you’re been attacked from. My advice is to just keep driving forward and shoot rather than chase after the Jawas. In the distance you see a sandcrawler and once you’ve destroyed your quota of Jawas it’s time to attack their mobile home.

The sand crawler is like a mobile armoured assault tank with all sorts of defences that need dealing with as you slowly ascend to the top of the vehicle.

I’ve got to be honest and say that I find this level particularly frustrating because you can be almost at the top and get knocked off, which means you have to climb all over again. Meanwhile the Jawas are constantly re-spawning and desperate to knock you off platforms with their bombs. It’s also often the case that the defences you destroy magically reappear causing you more grief.

It’s worth saying that the platforming element isn’t the games strongest suit. This is a theme which runs throughout with jumping being particularly frustrating. However it’s difficult and perhaps a bit unfair to criticise a game from this era for being challenging. Saying that, the air was turning blue and this level alone must have taken me 30 minutes when in reality it should take me 5.

The game continues, taking you to some more iconic locations such as Mos Eisley and the Death Star. The final level sees you attacking the Death Star in an X-Wing with another display of mode 7 loveliness followed up with the classic trench run.

The sound effects throughout are superb with samples from the movie sounding authentic, with the blaster and lightsabre sounding like they’re supposed to. The Jawas and Sand People all sound great. There’s even some sampled speech of Obi Wan Kenobi telling you to use the force.

Graphics – Excellent graphics with the Star Wars universe being very well recreated . 9

Sound – Hugely impressive music and sampled sound from the movie. 10

Playability – A fun game for the most part with the shooting feeling great. The jumping, platforming and vehicle sections not so much. 7

Re-Playability – Some levels seem a little familiar and it can feel repetitive, but it moves at a fair old pace. 7

Overall – Even played on easy you will die frequently which means it can be a very frustrating game. However, if you fancy a challenge then Super Star Wars is worth checking out, especially for the music alone. 8

Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With and ‘The Same Coin‘)