SNES A Day 62: Super Star Wars

super_star_wars_us_box_art

Approximate Release Date: June 1, 1992
Genre: Action
Developer: Sculptured Software
Publisher: JVC/LucasArts

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 story line 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!

12 thoughts on “SNES A Day 62: Super Star Wars”

  1. Whoa, I remember this game very well. I don’t remember loving it, but I kept playing just because I wanted to attack the Death Star. After I beat it, I don’t think it was ever played again …

      1. Death Star was pretty cool once you finally got through the inside. I seem to remember the garbage monster was ridiculous.

        I think I enjoyed the TIE fighter attack more than the Mode 7 Death Star surface attack. It’s been a while.

        Yes, I owned Empire and it was OK. I rented Jedi, beat it and took it back. Can’t believe I remember that…

  2. I feel your pain on this one – there have been so many Star Wars games that have wasted hours of my life, but I keep … going … back. The lure of the lightsaber is strong!

    I’m glad you were able to let this one go after three levels – and I really enjoyed the line “Shooting scorpions and mutant rabbits is very un-Star Wars.” Truer words were never spoken.

  3. I just played this on Wednesday. I wasted so much time with it as a kid. I remember being so impressed with the graphics and sound when I first played it. Then magically after a few hours I was tired of getting my butt kicked so much. So why did I waste so much time with it. The cool sound effects and music. The fact that you could access all of that stuff as an extra was very rad. We used it a lot in videos we made as kids, and also to make Jerky Boys style phone calls, which I’m sure were very unfunny.. One of our favorite things to do was to stick speakers out the windows of our house and loudly fire off the laser guns. Good times.

      1. Actually way nerdier. I had some recording equipment and we’d pre-plan out the sounds we needed and record them, then hook up the tape to a guitar amp so it sounded all loud and echo throughout the room in the background. It was serious stuff!

  4. You’re not wrong, but it does get better. I grew up with this and Empire and loved them both, despite some frustrating shortcomings. I’ve beaten the trilogy maybe three times in the past decade or so and I despite their flaws, I think they’re top notch SNES games, and possibly the best adaptations of films I’ve ever played.

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