Star Wars is back! ..Er, well…. more back…., and what with some heavy ups and downs as of late.

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We’re closing in on four full decades of history of a landmark franchise in science fiction. Ask most people and they will have some stories to tell on how Star Wars has affected their lives, anecdotes on their first viewings of entries, or thoughts on some of the pop-culture bits, drama, and trivia.

But like anything that had an initial rough production, quick propulsion to stardom, and a gritty battle to keep a consistent level of quality, Star Wars has had it’s highs and lows, and in no small scale, over 40 years.

The Good.

The Bad.

The mind-numbingly idiotic.

Though, bear in mind, it’s easy for even an extremely successful series that spans so many decades to have some misses to go along with the many hits.

As opposed to…

One biggie that most can agree upon as a definite hit was Super Star Wars for the SNES that came out in 1992. The first in the game trilogy by JVC and LucasArts, it had a lot to live up to but was in good hands from the start. Sure, there had been many Star Wars games and ports up to this point, but like most initial titles for the early days of the SNES, it was imperative that this prove its worth. Turning Star Wars into an action/adventure game that loosely follows the plot of the film came naturally and many levels are taken straight from the movie with heavy attention to detail and respect to the source material. To really amp up the action though, pretty much everything wants to kill you. Everything! Luke must be jinxed, because just about every living and non-living entity in this game wants him dead. This feels a bit more like Quentin Tarantino presents Star Wars.

After battling womprats and giant scorpions through the deserts of Tatooine, the level 1 boss is Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi fame. It takes a break from its 1000-year digestion cycle (however that works) and you get to see it in all it’s pre-1997-CGI-touched-up glory as it actually emerges from the sand to fight Luke with projectile rocks and hilarious wavy arms that are reminiscent of those used car lot air dancers.

Level 2 sees Luke cruising his landspeeder across the dunes of Tatooine to rescue everyone’s favorite smarmy trashcan R2-D2 from Jawas. Not just Luke’s ride, but all the Jawas have equipped their vehicles to be armed to the teeth. Blow enough Jawas away and Level 3 begins you at the Sandcrawler – which is also armed to the teeth.

Forget negotiating and haggling to get R2 back, once Luke is done shooting down Jawas point blank in the face, there’s the inside of the Sandcrawler to clean out, complete with a giant lava monster boss they keep for such jedi-wannabe infestations. Even pitiful little Gonk Droids that appear want a piece of Luke.

Stages 4 and 5 are the badlands, full of sandpeople, hyper-violent wildlife, a giant mutant womprat, aggressive banthas that explode when defeated (?!) and Obi-Wan somewhere in the mix to track down. Play “Mad Max” again out in the sand dunes, blowing away more Jawas with the landspeeder, and ultimately arrive at Mos Eisley.

No need for subtly and that whole “these are not the droids you’re looking for” crap, it’s time to charge into the town like Lancelot from Monty Python and the Holy Grail storming Swamp Castle.

After a chat with Chewie, it’s time for the epically scored stage of the cantina. The tried and true music adds so much fun to this stage as Luke (or Chewie) charges in slaughtering everyone in site, and he even has no qualms about setting off thermal detonators in a crowded public tavern. You might think Greedo would be the perfect boss of this stage, but no, it’s the Kahlar monster – a dang chess piece is ready to beat the snot out of everyone’s favorite jedi.

And remember, let the Wookie win.

Once you meet Han, you can play as him in the hanger to get to the Millennium Falcon and there isn’t even a shoddy-90s-CGI Jabba to get in the way. Our heroes escape the planet and immediately get sucked into the tractor beam seconds later. Is it time to hide away in a secret cargo hold and wait out a stormtrooper inspection?? – h’eeell no, get out there and kick some imperial ass! Maybe disguise yourselves as stormtroopers and stealthily search for Princess Leia?? – screw that, run through the moon-sized fortress guns-a-blazin’! There are even plenty of lasers everywhere, vertical hallways, and giant crushing thingies that come down from the ceiling – all less than practical additions to a workplace environment. Let’s hope The Empire provides some decent insurance.

A lost scene from Space Jam

There was an intended battle with the trash compactor monster, but sadly, it got cut before the game was produced. Going with the vibe from the rest of the game, it would have been epic. Luke and company battle the tractor beam core (no, seriously), Vader turns Obi-Wan into some dirty laundry, and our heroes escape to the rebel base. You chat with the rebels, head off to the Death Star, fight along it’s outer defenses, get nagged to death by Gold Five who keeps reminding you to “Stay on target!,” and lastly, finish the trench battle, defeat Vader in his Tie and blast that infamous exhaust port to win the game.

Super Star Wars was awarded Best Action/Adventure Game of 1992 by Electronic Gaming Monthly, as well as Best Movie-to-Game Adaptation. The art design and rendering of all your favorite characters is excellently done and the music and sound effects are spot on. It currently lives on via the PlayStation 4, Playstation Vita, and Wii Virtual Console. It can be pretty tough in some spots, but it’s also a blast to play as it’s Star Wars – TO THE EXTREME!

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Michael A. Jones     nerdsintheburbs@gmail.com     www.nerdsintheburbs.com

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