When I was a kid, most of my free time involved the three S’s: SEGA, Star Wars and The Simpsons. Sometimes, though very rarely, these things would mix. Simpsons games would appear on the Genesis, The Simpsons would parody Star Wars and Sonic 2 would feature the Death Star inspired Death Egg. Despite all this intermingling of my favorite media properties, I never was able to play a Star Wars game on my SEGA Genesis due to Nintendo getting all the games. I recall seeing the Super Star Wars Trilogy in magazines and thinking “why can’t the Genesis get those!?”. As time went on, Star Wars games began to appear on SEGA consoles, and in 1999 I finally owned a console that would receive some of these games. Now, in 2012, I’ve amassed most of the SEGA consoles and all of the Star Wars games. With The Phantom Menace 3D hitting theaters this weekend, I thought it would be fitting to look back at five of my favorite Star Wars games that appeared on SEGA consoles. Do they still hold up? Let’s find out!
Star Wars Arcade – 32X
Of all the Star Wars games on SEGA consoles, this one is my favorite. Star Wars Arcade has the distinction of being a 32X exclusive, and is one of the better games in the 32X library. Gameplay is simple, and as the title suggests it is very arcadey (is that a word?). One or two players take on TIE fighters in an astroid field, attack a Star Destroyer and blow up the Death Star. The ship you fly depends on your player selection. One player pilots an X-Wing, while two players fly in a Y-Wing with one player piloting and one player acting as gunner. Graphics are dated and very blocky, but I’m one of those goofballs who love retro blocky graphics. It’s amazing that something like a Star Destroyer, that is insanely detailed in the movies, can be so easily “dumbed down” to a few simple shapes and still be completely recognizable. If you own a 32X, this is a must have.
Star Wars: Rebel Assault – SEGA CD
Although released on multiple platforms, the SEGA CD version of Star Wars: Rebel Assault is one of the more easily accessible versions of the game. Aside from the PC version, the Mac version no longer plays thanks to Apple dropping support for Classic applications and who the hell owns a 3DO. The game itself is so-so, and unlike Star Wars Arcade it carries with it the bad kind of dated graphics. With the grainy videos and difficult gameplay, this is a game only for real Star Wars fans. The player takes on the role of a character who is a lot like Luke Skywalker, but isn’t Luke Skywalker. You play through the events of A New Hope, with the battle of Hoth thrown in, and end the game with an assault on the Death Star (isn’t that how ALL Star Wars games end?). Putting negatives aside, the game IS one of the better FMV games for the SEGA CD and it’s fun seeing live action Star Wars footage, even if the production values were low. The game itself is incredibly cheap and easy to find, so I’d recommend picking it up if you’re a SEGA CD owner and a Star Wars fan.
Star Wars: Demolition – Dreamcast
Developed by Luxoflux, the people behind the Vigilante 8 games, Star Wars: Demolition is the stupidest Star Wars game out there. But it’s a great kind of stupid. The plot is this: after podracing is outlawed in the galaxy, Jabba the Hutt creates a new sport in which players from across the galaxy battle to the death in arenas. Fighters include Boba Fett, Aurra Sing and a number of new characters in recognizable vehicles from both trilogies. My favorite would have to be Wittin the Jawa, a background character from Return of the Jedi, who has a remote controlled Battle Droid piloting a blaster mounted flying machine. So you’re controlling a character who is in turn controlling a character who is controlling a vehicle. It’s like the video game version of Inception. The game is at its best in multi-player. Seeing a Rancor, a podracer, Darth Maul and Boba Fett fighting it out on the surface of the second Death Star is a crazy sight to behold. Stages also feature some pretty awesome remixes of John Williams’ Star Wars themes.
Jedi Power Battles – Dreamcast
All three Star Wars games on the Dreamcast were ports of existing Playstation and N64 games. Both Demolition and Jedi Power Battles originated on the Playstation, and Jedi Power Battles is definitely the worse of the two when it comes to showing its age. Graphics are just far too blocky and glitchy, the Dreamcast can do far better than what Jedi Power Battles presents. The best aspects of the game are the music, as it is lifted from the film’s score, and the simplistic yet fun beat ’em up gameplay. One or two players run through action scenes from The Phantom Menace, taking out hundreds of battle droids and finally facing Darth Maul. The character roster is unique, in that it features a number of Jedi who had little screen time in the first prequel, but have since become popular characters thanks to episodes II and III as well as the tv series The Clone Wars. Mace Windu, who sat on his ass for a majority of Phantom Menace, wields a lightsaber two years before Sam Jackson got himself a purple saber in Attack of the Clones. The Dreamcast version got a few exclusive playable characters, including the coneheaded Ki-Adi-Mundi and Darth Maul with his duel edged saber (the Playstation version of the game had Maul with a standard saber, boring!). Fans of beat ’em ups should enjoy Jedi Power Battles, and Star Wars fans will love seeing background Jedi in action, but if you fall under neither category I’d give this game a pass.
Episode I: Racer – Dreamcast
It may not be the superior SEGA developed arcade game, but Star Wars Episode I: Racer is still an excellent racing game. Graphics are at N64 levels of detail, but thanks to the Dreamcast’s increased power, everything is very sharp and the framerate is consistant (the N64 version suffered occasional drops in framerate). The Dreamcast and PC versions of the game featured full unedited background tunes, including the always popular Duel of the Fates. The game touts a large roster of racers as well as a number of tracks. Fans will enjoy shout outs to the movie, including Tusken Raiders shooting at you as you race past and races taking place on Malastare, a planet which originally was just mentioned in passing by Qui-Gon: “They have podracing on Malastare. Very fast, very dangerous.” Of all the Dreamcast Star Wars games, this is the one to get.
Aside from the five games mentioned, a few other Star Wars games exist for SEGA consoles. The Master System saw the release of Star Wars, an average platformer which strayed from the movie as much as it could. Remember the scene in which Luke was avoiding green slime in a cave? I don’t! The Game Gear had two Star Wars titles, both of which were pretty bad. Star Wars was like the Master System version, but had a few new levels. Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, despite the title, is not like the SNES version of the game. Players choose from Luke, Leia or Chewbacca (no Han?) and run through a series of frustrating platforming stages. Finally, the SEGA CD has The Software Toolworks’ Star Wars Chess. It’s chess, with Star Wars characters and long load times. The redeeming aspect of the game would be the crazy animations that occur whenever one piece takes another piece. You can see all the Rebel wins in the video above.Ad: