GameSpite Journal 10 | Super Star Wars

Super Star Wars | Dev.: Sculptured Software | Pub: JVC | Genre: Action Smorgsaborg | Release: Nov. 1992

I think back then, it was the music that got me and everyone I knew hooked on Super Star Wars. We were simply convinced it couldn’t get any better. It sounded exactly like John Williams’ famous movie score, and anybody who said different had no idea what he was talking about. Although after playing Super Star Wars again now, almost 20 years later, I freely admit that we might have been a little bit overreacting back then. While certain songs like “The Little People Work” are impressively close to their orchestral original, others may sound similar but lack the oomph only a real orchestra provides.

Nevertheless, back then nobody had heard comparably faithful renditions of all the classic Star Wars tunes. After all, 1992 was a time when the release of a new Star Wars games was a reason to celebrate, a real event. Games based on the three Star Wars movies were an absolute rarity and almost all of them were good. Just like Super Star Wars.

Of course, Sculptured Software’s intperpretation of the first movie took a few liberties with its source material -- or do you recall scenes from the movie where Luke is speeding around the desert shooting Jawas, climbing all across their sandcrawler, or standing in quicksand, shooting at a rather small Sarlacc? No, me neither. Still, the game did a great job capturing the movies atmosphere: Apart from the music, we also had finally the correct sounds for lightsabers and blasters and thanks to the SNES’ graphical capabilities, the desert of Tattoine felt just as real as the Death Star’s metallic corridors while a few impressive Mode 7 sequences provided a nice change of pace between the sidescrolling stages.

Oh, and maybe I also should mention that Super Star Wars was hard as hell. No later than in level three, where Luke has to climb the sandcrawler, will you start cursing like a sailor—one wrong jump, and you could start climbing the damned thing from the start. And thanks to the slightly fidgety controls, wrong jumps were a rather common occurence. Then there was the matter of power-ups. Before he gets his hands on a lightsaber, Luke only has a rather weak blaster that can be powered up for more damage and some homing-capabilies, but lose one life and you’re back to your small little beginner’s gun. It gets worse: Apart from these aforementioned malice on the developer’s part, Super Star Wars was a very, very long game that featured neither a backup battery nor passwords. I’ll be honest with you: Without the various cheat codes, I would have never seen the later stages or even the end of the game -- a problem its two sequels remedied by incorporating said password system.

While most Western developers never really excelled on 16-bit consoles, Sculpured Software is one of the few exceptions. Although the controls could have used some tweaking and the uneven difficulty level makes quite a few stages hard to enjoy, in terms of design and technical achievements, they could stand toe to toe with their Japanese colleagues. And of course it was much better than most of the Star Wars games that followed. Truly an elegant game for a more civilized age.

By Thomas Nickel? | Dec. 19, 2011 | Previous: Out of This World | Next: Final Fantasy V