Saturday, 1 November 2014

A long time ago in pixels far, far away.... (Prequel trilogy and miscellany)

Inferior as film trilogy but superior when interpreted as pixels, let's take a gander at how the galaxy went here, there and everywhere.

The Phantom Menace on PS1 had soundalikes replacing actual actors but environs, plot and chars were largely reminiscent to the terrible film.

Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo made its way to the N64 in 2001 and best described as a poor man’s Rogue Squadron.

Graphics didn't disappoint, but simplistic missions and dodgy targeting system reduced the fun factor.

Looking much like Wipeout wearing F-Zero trousers, Star Wars Episode I: Racer came to a host of platforms in 1999; including Dreamcast and N64.

On Game Boy Colour, it was top down guided not by voices, but arrows.

Racer Revenge on PS2 continued the trend.

As developers enjoy pissing us off, Sega brought the 'same principle' but Star Wars Racer Arcade remained exclusive to insert coin in 2000.

What?

The Game Boy Colour hosted Obi-Wan’s Adventures and Yoda Stories.

The former mixed isometric and top down with decent animation, nice graphics and reasonable controls but boasted the most pathetic jump in history.

Hmmm, the other was… beyond fucking bad.

Imagine a hungover Zelda and/or disturbed Gargoyle’s Quest.

Why do we play Luke?  Surely it should be everybody’s croaky voiced gremlin.

The playing field is almost like an invisible grid as sprites seemingly teleport from square to square, so I guess the assholes were fans of Tiger electronic games.

If that isn't enough to terminate interest, one deserves everything they get.

Republic Commando is a short lived but enjoyable squad-based FPS, with tasty graphics and helmet perspective clearly inspired by Metroid Prime.

To impress anybody who cares, Clive Barker's Jericho also adopted such a system.

Remember how good Flight of the Falcon was?  Well the GBA is at it again…

Attack of the Clones had you play Anakin, Mace Windu or Obi-Wan.

Controlling vehicles such as starfighters, speeders and gunships in Tatooine, asteroid field and Geonosis respectively sounds pretty cool.

Unfortunately, controls are clumsier than a child in a playpen.

The New Droid Army takes place after Episode II.

Anakin takes an isometric approach to Tatooine as talking to peeps, obtaining information and combat involving spirit crushing button mashing.

Graphics and sound impress to a certain extent but is completely mundane and plays like Bantha bollocks.

Obi-Wan on Xbox prequels Episode I and chronicles the exploits of a young Kenbobi, as he must prove himself to master Qui-Gon and the Jedi Council by fighting against the evil Trade Federation in third person.

With dodgy camera, floaty controls, mediocre graphics and a piss poor replacement for Ewan McGregor's yap, the bin enjoys another hearty meal.

Inspired by events between I and II, Bounty Hunter lands mercenary Jango Fett in hot water with assassins, thieves and crime lords which suggests a connection between he and the Clone Army.

In Revenge of the Sith, Anakan and Obi-Wan are surrounded by film footage, the Force, droids and authentic setting.

Even though scenes are extended from events on the big screen, it’s still over quicker than a lightsaber duel short on batteries.

The GBA equivalent reverts to 2D and serves up a surprisingly good Golden Axe clone.

At your disposal are a variety of devastating Force attacks and lightsaber techniques needed to smash through enemy hordes and bosses.

Dialogue between chars screams Metroidvania and overall, gets a thumbs up.

In 2000, the PS1 and Dreamcast hosted vehicular combat with Demolition as chars and crates from the original and prequel trilogy aim to hunt and destroy in landscapes we know but may not love.

Set during Episode I, Jedi Power Battles found its way to PS1, Dreamcast and GBA.

Co-op play was fun and the Dreamcast version not only had better graphics, but also included a two-player duel mode.

Mace Windu, Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon Jinn, Plo Kloon and Adi Gallia are the five Jedis available charged with kicking droid and boss ass in areas of familiarity such as Naboo Swamps, Tatooine, Trade Federation Battleship and Theed Palace.

As well as other goodies, beating the game with whatever Jedi invites other chars to become playable including Queen Amidala and Darth Maul.

Smart visuals and tidy gameplay means this is a force to be reckoned with.

Things got blocky once more in 2005 as Lego Star Wars: The Video Game plied its trade on formats like PS2, Gamecube, Xbox and cut down on GBA.

The ‘sequel’ in 2006 was sensibly subbed ‘The Original Trilogy’ so what was the fucking problem in calling this ‘The Prequel Trilogy’?

Anyway, scenes from all three episodes provide innocent excitement but as this was released before Sith premiered, the flavour of plot could be ruined.

Drop in, drop out co-op play, a shitload of chars, driving numerous vehicles, using the Force to manipulate objects and environments to solve simple puzzles - you know the childlike drill.

Set between III and IV, real time stratgey animal Empire At War tasked you to command and rule the universe.  Expansion pack Forces of Corruption brought even more and Gold Pack integrated both on a single disc.

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga inevitably tied up both trilogies in 2007 and favoured the ‘last’ but not yet ‘obsolete’ gen such as Wii, DS, PS3 and 360.

Predictably, the PS2 missed out.

Here’s fun, associate a worthless pool of piss with a massive brand and it’s bound to sell like hot cakes, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  WRONG!

Masters of Teras Kasi on PS1 saw members of the Empire and Rebel Alliance settling hormones in an epic one on one fighting fail.

Using Luke's lightsaber to batter and firing Han’s blaster is obviously stupid.

Ultra cheap Virtua Fighter ring outs was the final nail in a badly constructed coffin riddled with perverted woodworm.

Introducing a char aptly named Hoar just about sums up this shocking pile of Sith.

Star Wars Chess sounds crazy but actually existed on PC and Mega CD.

Before pieces are taken, they meet in the middle for an animated confrontation to seal a bare-faced Battle Chess rip off.

The PC famously dominated asteroid fields and star charts with FPS (Dark Forces), FPS/third person (Jedi Knight) and space simulations (X-Wing).

Before lengthy live action video sequences became commonplace on CD based consoles, formats like the Amiga were indeed capable, admittedly for seconds rather than minutes.

Featuring rendered graphics, a truly horrific colour scheme and FMV with more grain than rice, Rebel Assault travelled on rails.

Legible yes, but so is a pig wallowing in mud.

Sandwiched between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Shadows of the Empire came to N64 in 1996.

Playing as mercenary Dash Rendar, your goal is to defeat Prince Xizor, head honcho of crime syndicate Black Sun and foil the assassination of Luke.

The said geezer plans to replace Darth and become the Emperor’s new right hand.

Story screens keep the wheels of expansion ticking over nicely.

Dipping into the perspectives of FPS, cockpit, on rails and third person, this aptly observes imagination.

Rogue Squadron watered its arcade roots with mission based mayhem on PC and N64.

As with Indiana Jones, actual actors don't sing like canaries but nevertheless, a decent job is delivered by all.

Objectives are given throughout and with A-Wing, X-Wing and Landspeeder all available, good times lie ahead.

Rogue Leader was a Gamecube launch title and really showed the power of the Dark Side.

Commentary blows more regularly than the wind and again, famous beeps like R2’s communication and TIE screams are present.

Hoth, Death Star trench and Cloud City ring the familiarity bell meaning all juicy titbits are streamlined.

While piloting the Landspeeder, applying harpoon and tow cable ensuring Imperial Walkers enjoy their trip looks all the more spiffing.

Flying whatever kite is fairly generic but succeeds as a triumph for visual excellence, especially since in-game CGI spreads like warm butter.

Completing this particular triple-hit combo was Rebel Strike and while missions remain staple diet, this mixes shit up with getting those knees up on foot.

If anything, matters are now even easier on the eye.

Actual video from celluloid is now streamed against CGI and because we’ve moved on from Mega CD, there is no need to squint.

Using blaster to blast about in blast land when leaving the confines of crate cannot disguise an uninspiring segment.

I suppose riding a Bantha and controlling Princess Lay Her are positives.  Lando, R2-D2, C-3PO and Chewie simply follow like well trained sheep.

The Starfighter series on PS2 combined the meat of Rogue Squadron and X-Wing.

Episode I: Starfighter involved protecting Naboo from the Trade Federation and Jedi Starfighter is set just before Episode II.

Knights of the Old Republic ambitiously wore RPG boots.

With a storyline based around the Mandolorian Wars, it makes for a genuinely interesting adventure as chars evolve in class and partake in subtle side quests.

The Sith Lords built upon the critically acclaimed original.

Once again, decisions made can affect which side of the Force your companions will bat for.

Introducing new powers, weapons, chars, classes etc, shouldn't surprise.

Following the 'moderate' success of World of Warcraft, The Old Republic happily suckled on the concept of MMORPG.

Similar to Jedi Power Battles, The Force Unleashed draped action with HD polish.

As factions from all corners of each trilogy compete to rule the galaxy, Battlefront was conquest based - first and third person style.

Consequently, expect to encompass the beef of titular vehicles.

Due to the aim of destroying enemy or capturing opposing command posts on whichever map, I’d vaguely liken the principle to Return Fire.

Single player modes include campaign (essentially its story), galactic conquest (conquering planets) and ‘instant action’.

Until servers were shut down, battles could rage online.

As with anything on PC, power and performance of your processor, graphics card, RAM etc was more important than the Force itself.

The sequel tweaked gameplay mechanics and predictably added more vehicles, chars, maps etc.

We then entered spin-off territory with Elite Squadron (DS and PSP) and Renegade Squadron (PSP) as campaigns and customisation roared like a proud lion.

Both adopted the more regular approach of vehicular and going walkies.

Elite featured playable heroes and villains from throughout the saga, while Renegade is set within the original trilogy, preferring to be more like the original Battlefront.

Assisted by security droid Zeeo, Lethal Alliance sees enslaved mercenary Rianna hatching a cunning plan to steal plans for the Death Star.

With acrobatics, exploration and lots of shooting, professing anything other than Tomb Raider would be crazy.

Your metal pal can also combine attacks with its spunky master and apart from some cockpit action, riding a hoverboard thing made for a fairly obscure entry to the DS and PSP library.

Marking a new chapter in the 3D CGI animated universe of The Clone WarsRepublic Heroes on 360, PS3, Wii etc is more third person, mission and puzzle based action.

Lego Star Wars III gave fans what they apparently wanted as favourite scenes were included from seasons 1 and 2.

Expect mechanics not to stray too much from previous efforts on PSP, DS, PS3 and Wii.

Lightsaber Duels had wannabe Jedis swinging the Wii remote and executing specials very much like using the whip in Indiana Jones and The Staff of Kings.

Complete with irritating voice acting, chars such as Count Dooku, Kit Fisto, Obi-Wan, General Grievous, Ahsoka Tano and Mace Windu are out to prove a yawnsome point.

Expect something like Power Stone, without the ingenuity or charm

So that's your lot (thank fuck).

Taking place after Sith but a few years before Episode IV, it's only a matter of time before the recently launched animated series Rebels is adapted for the current gen.

In the years to come, VII, VIII and IX will undoubtedly follow suit.

Since its inception in 1983, developers have injected innovation with admirable gusto into a franchise more infinite than the universe itself.

Although Knights of the Old Republic, Dark Forces and Rogue Squadron have quality screaming louder than a fleet of TIE fighters, the requirement of rapidly spitting out bilge in order to make a fast buck from the naive and loyal means only the bottom of a rabbit's hutch contains nastier whiffs.

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