Approximate Release Date: June 1, 1992
Developer: Sculptured Software
Super Star Wars fails the “Time to Lightsaber” test.
Here’s my theory in a nutshell: If a Star Wars video game features lightsabers, the quality of the game is inversely proportional to the amount of the game that has to be played before being granted the use of the lightsaber. In Super Star Wars, Luke gets his lightsaber around halfway through the game.
That sounds about right.
I remember renting Super Star Wars as a kid in the late ’90s and hating it because it didn’t follow the storyline of the film closely at all. Looking back on it, the game is close enough. This isn’t “Darth Vader turns into a scorpion” levels of making stuff up; the game changes events and invents action sequences because this is a video game. The music and sound effects of the film have a surprisingly accurate level of quality to them, and even though the Super Nintendo isn’t quite powerful enough to render the customary Star Wars opening text crawl in a readable way, the visuals overall get close enough too. You can’t play Super Star Wars and not have scenes of the movies running through your head.
But “Time to Lightsaber” dictates that Super Star Wars is a middling game, and it’s true. Immediately obvious is how the game is brutally difficult on the default Brave difficulty level. Knock that down a peg to the much more enjoyable Easy difficulty, which might be a little too easy but the game features two things I hate which justifies it: infinitely respawning enemies and wonky platforming. Jumping just isn’t very responsive, as I found myself just walking off platforms because my button press didn’t register. The shooting is fine but unremarkable, but because Super Star Wars relies so heavily on blasting enemies from afar I question how useful the lightsaber will be when the player finally gets it.
By the way, a corollary to the “Time to Lightsaber” theory is if a Star Wars game features a useless or underpowered lightsaber, the game is bad. I never got far enough to test that because the first three levels in Super Star Wars sapped my interest to play much more.
- Level 1: Shooting scorpions and mutant rabbits is very un-Star Wars. And because you can only shoot in eight directions in a level with lots of slopes and hills, it becomes difficult to hit these stupid things. Fighting the sarlacc boss is pretty cool though.
- Level 2: A Mode 7 vehicle level with endless enemies and fuel management. If you run out of fuel, you move slower and lose the ability to turn left or right. You probably need to do to finish the level. I’d rather the game just hit you with a loss of a life than crippling the player so severely.
- Level 3: This is where I mentally gave up. Tiny platforms, an unclear path to take, and enemies which hit you and knock you back to the beginning. Hoo boy.
I managed to reach Level 4 when making the video for this entry. It didn’t make me want to play any more!
I know folks love Super Star Wars and later games in the series, but I’m not feeling it. Maybe this is like Pilotwings where you had to have been there near its release to properly enjoy it. Star Wars fans surely got a kick at seeing the looks and sounds remain so faithful as the film series, but it’s not very fun to play today.
Tomorrow: Be sure to goe grab a friend to play the first Goemon game to come to the United States, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja!