Sunday, 10 August 2014

A long time ago in pixels far, far away.... (Original trilogy)

You could build New York from what's available and still have bricks to spare, so the level of detail on those that feature will vary at my discretion.

Atari conceived the first Star Wars arcade in 1983.

This and The Empire Strikes Back in 1985 aptly demonstrated that back then, vector graphics were the cat's whiskers.

Forming the same graphical principle, Denton Design’s Dark Star was technically amazing.

Apart from blasting the shit out of whatever, The Liar (inspired by spaceship Lying Bastard from Larry Niven’s sci-fi novel Ringworld), had a fondness for passing through jump gates, liberating planets and stealing resources.

Despite low detail, it’s as though the Speccy was ‘overclocked’ because vectors managed to zip around at breakneck speed.

Empire was brought in 1980 and trilogy climaxed in 1983, so you’d think the Return of the Jedi arcade would follow a few years later, but appeared before the sequel in 1984.

WHAT?

Hey Chewie, your thoughts?

Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr?

(He proceeds to choke me).

(Cough, splutter).  Back the fuck off fur features, it’s not my fault.

Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Okay, okay.  Buy me a shit mixture at Mos Eisley and we're even.

Incidentally, Jedi favoured sprite over wireframe models and pioneered by Sega’s Zaxxon, preferred an isometric perspective.

To be fair, much of what happened in the film, made its way here.

Essential retro beast, the Atari 2600 didn't go without.

Based on the Death Star assault stage, Star Wars: The Arcade Game was viewed from some kind of 3D outlook.

Dressed as a scruffy Defender clone, The Empire Strikes Back saw something resembling a snowspeeder attack an endless army of Imperial Walkers.

To be fair, the four-legged monsters did look something like what we remember and bizarrely changed colour when put on a forced diet of laser.

Occasionally, the Star Wars theme beeped away signalling invincibility.

Nailed on rip off Attack of the Mutant Camels always gave me the hump.

Jedi Death Star Battle oversaw the operation of a tiny Millennium Falcon as after a barrier was penetrated and sweet spot was located, expect the Death Star to go boom in a separate section.

Phoenix was a 1980 Galaxian clone thing with eggs, birds and also required the pummelling of a mothership.

In 1981, Namco’s Galaga built upon what Galaxian brought, with exciting beeps and swooping formations.

To add spice, a specific enemy emitted a tractor beam in mid flight and the brave would allow his/her fighter to be captured, effectively losing a life without dying.

You could work this to your advantage as when the game resumed, (exactly as it would if you succumbed to enemy fire), defeating the kidnapping ship would see you reestablish control with double firepower.

The weirdest Space Invader hybrid was the extremely obscure The End by Konami in 1981.

Insects launched from, I guess, a mothership, and apart from shooting, munched on pseudo barriers.

The aim was to survive the swarm and go from there.

Moving on, Mr Tom.

When direct conversions of respective arcade were brought, home computers balked at different results.

It may interest that in 1989, Domark cobbled together all three games for Spectrum, C64 etc, in one mega value pack called The Star Wars Trilogy.

In 1987, Japan, Star Wars and the Famicom simply excelled by delivering content more spaced out then a stormtrooper high on crystal meth.

Vader becoming a shark, pterodactyl or scorpion?  A thing of purest beauty.

Oh yeah, Luke hitched a ride on a whale.

A long drawn out ‘yeah’ leaps quite high and my friend fuck only knows what Namco were smoking.

Unlike this drugathon, the 1991 NES game cared more about the film's plot, with Game Boy and Game Gear ports following later.

Now I present a forgotten set of three…

3D Star Wars was presumably spoofing Return of the Jedi in 1983, as Luke Clearthinker singlehandedly takes on the entire rebel fleet in a crosshair themed shmup.

Before the Griffins and friends got their teeth into the trilogy, claymation sketch show Robot Chicken had already dedicated an episode of similar ilk.

This is referenced in Blue Harvest when Peter remarks “I wouldn't worry about it, Chris.  I don't think people are even aware of that show's existence.”

At the time, a more famous parody was Bored of the Rings and CRL adapted the novel into a text adventure in 1986.

Mildly amusing variations of Tolkien’s famous fantasy chars included Fordo, Grandalf and Bimbo.

Boasting an ‘officially licensed’ Star Wars theme, Death Star Interceptor was a 1985 System 3 Spectrum effort.

The SF-1 dived and climbed in your pursuit to obliterate the Death Star.

Banking left and right was essential as this allowed you to shoot from a different angle.

Hearing your Spectrum announce the static of ‘Prepare to launch’ was great.

Although causing destruction helped, this was all about survival.

Once inside the trench, repeat the previous strategy until a direct hit could be scored in the exhaust port.

That really is it and even by Spectrum standards, must be one the shortest games ever.

Star Wars Droids: The Adventures of C-3PO and R2-D2 was so fucking bad, it induced a chronic state of nausea in 1988.

Amstrad and Spectrum owners were tortured by a piece of shit that even a desperate fly would avoid.

Crash landing on prison planet Aurem, our droids are captured by The Fromm Gang and must escape from hell (this game).

You play Threepio while R2 lags behind.

R2 became playable when logging on to a terminal, which instigated a sub-game to open doors and call lifts.

The clunky controls were horrendous and hatred resonates.

Making the inevitable leap to 16 bits is when the Force came of age and all SNES games were handled by Sculptured Software.

Super Star Wars, 1992

We see the famous slogan, hear an excellent rendition of the famous John Williams theme rolls and story melts away.

To save repetition, this is true for each game.

Luke takes point, but Chewie and Han play a supporting role.

Aside from regular blaster, pop guns include seeker and plasma.

I’m pleased to say that the titular weapon of a Jedi Knight isn’t forgotten and when acquired, can be used to deflect enemy fire.

Accompanied by dialogue, cut scenes connect events nicely which lead up to the climatic Death Star scene.

Noises and occasional speech samples ripped straight from the film ensure presentation is authentically smashing.

Traversing over familiar terrain such as the Mos Eisley Bar, inside and out the Sandcrawler, Bantha territory and Cantina fight adds to the occasion.

Regular threat is typical Empire fodder but the Sarlacc pit monster, Jawenko lava beast and Kalhar creature provide end of level tests.

You also get an Imperial Defence Droid and a mutant Womprat.

Mode 7 stages look great static, but in motion are absolutely terrible.

Environs littered with tricky jumps and leaps of faith made one’s blood boil.

Super The Empire Strikes Back, 1993

Lucasfilm already released Empire on NES in 1992, so I suppose many would consider this an uber version.

Presentation and graphics impress more than before as cut scenes, setting, sound and speech are giving high fives.

We play Han and Chewie, while Yoda’s presence permits the Force in the Dagobah System.

On Hoth, a Tauntan can be ridden.

Spiffing.

Legging up Imperial Walkers with a cable is unsatisfying and awkward.

Mode 7 during Hoth and flying the X-Wing above Cloud City remain unconvincing but a lightsaber duel with Mr. Vader is satisfying.

Unfortunately, this is Bantha bollocks because it's totally unfair and frustratingly difficult.

A section involving Snowspeeder becomes a scrolling shmup (if you like), but avoiding enemy fire is practically impossible because your crate is so fucking huge.

Imagine if Mega Mario in New Super Mario Bros was put in the same situation.

To top it off, bosses take an eternity to defeat because they possess what seems like endless vitality.

On this evidence, the designers couldn't organise an orgy in a brothel.

Super Return of the Jedi, 1994

They made up for the previous debacle with a definite improvement.

Essential noise bites include Jabba’s laugh, Chewie’s roar and Darth’s breathing.

Tatooine, Sail Barge, Forest Moon on Endor, Jabba’s Dance Hall and Wicket Village are environs to gladly feature.

Princess Lay Her and a wicket expands upon char variety.

A fruitless attempt at 3D with the Speeder Bike section reaches a new fucking low.

We rotate the Falcon as we shoot down the TIE forces and the same vehicle is used with Mode 7 over the Death Star.

Before the space station is destroyed, kicking the bony Emperor’s ass is a necessity.

Giving Luke a shock is fine but I'm not quite sure why he's flying...

This qualifies as being a more balanced affair and importantly, bosses can be taken down quicker than it takes to watch Ben Hur.

Not so 'Super' ports found their way to Game Boy and Game Gear but at least you could play Luke, Chewie or Princess.

For the ultimate on rails experience, hook up with Sega and the Star Wars Trilogy Arcade.

I’m sure those who spent a few quid in 1998 (or thereabouts), had no regrets.

Yavin, Hoth and Endor are chosen to represent powerful 3D excitement as destroying the Death Star, Imperial Walkers and Shield Generator motivate joystick junkies to stay on target.

Duels with notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett and Lord Vader are stages pretty special.

Action now goes portable with the Game Boy Advance.

Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon came to pass in 2003 and contrary to title, also drove you crazy.

The physics in this horror show are a right son of a whore.

In flying sections, laser blasts are kind of inverted so you pretty much have to aim away from the reticle in order to secure a hit.

This is dull - with a captial D.

In regards to driving vehicles...

Dodge. Survive. Repeat.

Or more appropriately.

Swear. Snooze. Repeat.

Visuals move slower than shit and appalling pixelation made this a great game.

Cloud City, Mos Eisley and Death Star bring atmosphere but I'm unsure why anybody would persevere long enough to care.

Sleeping pills?  Who the fuck needs them?

Star Wars Trilogy: Apprentice of the Force came out to coincide with the 2004 DVD boxset.

Just to make this fact more obvious, they used the same cover art.

It’s basically GBA interpreting SNES, but we only command Luke.

He can use the Force and freely swap between lightsaber and blaster at will.

The vast majority of the game is platforming action and at regular intervals, you’re forced to clear the screen of enemies before being able to progress further.

It’s like what you’d expect in God of War or Devil May Cry etc.

This kind of ‘ambush’ is abused to an irritating degree and quickly becomes tedious.

When flying the X-Wing, it becomes a moronic Asteroids clone.

Mode 7 becomes overhead, with trench run and speeder bike chase particularly unexciting.

Imperial Walkers merely stamp feet in a lazy terror tantrum.

Levels are held together by dialogue and digitised screens, animation is smooth and I don't think many will grumble over graphics.  

Fighting Darth at the end of Empire is done well and as per the film, Luke ultimately loses.

We end with something more entertaining than rummaging through a nettle bush.

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy was brick hot and warmed the cockles of system hearts in 2006, such as PC, DS, GBA, PS2 and 360.

We build and ride vehicles, alternate between chars and using parts from others, create your own favourite pizza.

Archetypal humour, general frivolity, slapstick recreations of famous scenes, co-op play and splendid visuals pleases in every department.

Until next time, may the force be with you.

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