In the spring of 1999, I freely admit I was caught up in the Star Wars hype machine. I eagerly anticipated the release of the first new Star Wars film since 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was the name of the movie and I saw it on opening weekend and I loved it. Then I saw it again in theaters shortly after and while I still enjoyed it, I no longer was in awe of the special effects. The bad acting, dialogue and convoluted plot became clearer to me on second viewing with the sheen of newness and anticipation now wiped clean. Not to mention the movie had one of the most annoying film characters of all time, Jar Jar Binks. Regardless of the quality of the film, this particular Star Wars prequel was a phenomenon to behold in 1999 and it was inevitable that there would be movie tie ins that touched all aspects of popular culture, including video games.
The Star Wars franchise was obviously not new to the video game licensing business with Star Wars related games available in arcades and various home consoles throughout the 80’s and into the early 90’s, long after the last movie was released. Now with updated hardware to work with, LucasArts could deliver a game that more closely matched the source material in terms of graphics and gameplay. Star Wars Episode 1 Racer took the most exhilarating part of the movie, Anakin’s pod race, and turned it into a high quality racing game for the Nintendo 64. Everything about this game looks and plays great and is a must own for the system.
Star Wars Episode 1 Battle for Naboo was released the following year but still feeding off the popularity from the previous year’s film and the Star Wars name. Another gorgeous looking game, Battle for Naboo is more diverse than Racer. In Battle for Naboo, there are dogfighting sequences high in the sky but also closer to ground action using a floating vehicles. Still a shooter at heart, Battle for Naboo is another LucasArt winner with no sign of Jar Jar Binks to be found.
Currently in my collection:
- Star Wars Episode 1 Racer – game only B
- Star Wars Episode 1 Battle for Naboo – game only A-