Tag Archives: lucasarts

FGC #157 Kinect Star Wars

Bum Bum BuuuuuuumThere’s enough negativity on the internet, and I always try to be positive in my little corner of cyberspace.

I try.

I really do.

Full disclosure: I was biased against the Kinect from its first moment. It looked like yet another attempt by Microsoft to bite on the success of another device and steal some of the Wii’s voluminous thunder. Don’t get me wrong, despite being in a field that calls for me to curse M$ every ten seconds, I actually generally like Microsoft. I can’t get mad at those guys, because I’ve seen what other tech companies do when they have control, and Gates’ Fabulous Machine has at least steered in a direction that allows for things like writing your own programs without the express written permission of the Jobs estate. But ‘Soft has a tendency toward wholesale theft of whatever is working in the industry, and then attempting to replicate its success without really understanding what made the original so great in the first place. Kinect looked like another Zune from day one, and, when I finally picked one up over a Black Friday sale, I saw nothing to divorce me of this notion.

The Kinect always, always had issues. It was, I suppose, ideal for bars or frogurt factories, but in the average living room, playing a game that was meant for you, Kinect owner, had a tendency to go south real fast. Kinect has been calibrated for Goggle Bob. Welcome, Goggle Bob. Goggle Bob, it appears you have moved six inches to the left, I will now identify your t-shirt as a second player, and you as a guest. That couch behind you is an arm, right? Wow, that arm doesn’t move very much, you have failed. If this problem persists, please rearrange all the furniture in your home. Now shout your commands at me. I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that, but if you’d like to exit the game you’re currently playing, we can recalibrate the microphone again in an environment that doesn’t have background music. Have you considered playing all of your videogames on mute? Pew PewYou might enjoy it. Why are you turning me off in the system settings?

So, yes, not a Kinect fan.

And, as I’ve covered before, I’m not really a Star Wars fan either. I mean, I like Star Wars, I like lasers and laser swords and lasering planets, but it’s never been a must-buy situation. Kinect Mega Man? I’m buying that on day one. But Kinect Star Wars has no great hold over me. So why buy the game at all? Simple: Lucasarts has been working on ways to make “real life lightsaber battles” a reality for ages, and I figured here would be the culmination of that pan-galactic pursuit.

It makes sense, right? Lightsabers are, like Kingdom Hearts, light. There’s not much weight to a sword made of light, and there’s even less to a sword made of nothing. While the common complaint regarding The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword involved pointing out that shaking a wiimote around was nothing like holding an actual, weighty (Master) sword, there’d be no such issue in the Star Wars universe. I’ve seen Jedi twirl those things around like batons, so it’s perfectly canon that wielding a lightsaber would be pretty damn similar to the Kinect’s usual wave your hands around like a dork.

So, great news, thanks to Kinect Star Wars, I’m now completely over this whole “want to use a light saber” thing.

Okay, that isn’t completely true. I still want the ability to easily dice off limbs and cut through walls, but the actual dueling in Kinect Star Wars is about as fun as bathing a wookie. This actually makes me think of Skyward Sword again, because this is yet another game that reduces the act of dueling to Punch-Out-esque “tells” and motions. But please don’t think that because I evoked the good name of Punch-Out that I think this is any good: everything about this dueling system is pretty much the exact opposite of how anyone thinks of superpowered, exciting swordfights. People are fond of comparing Punch-Out to rhythm games, which is wholly justified, but Kinect Star Wars’ duels are practically (super slow) Dance Dance Revolution. VeeeewDown, up, left, attack, down, attack, push… Christ, I just realized this is more Hologram Time Traveler than anything. That’s not good!

And it gets worse! Viewed from a distance, this game is just a series of minigames. I’ve been focusing on lightsaber duels because they broke my heart, but there’s also pod racing, dancing, and Incredible Hulk Rancor-ing. And that’s all well and good, but some nitwits decided to solder a plot on to these events, and… ugh. Like, okay, remember Star Wars Episode 1? Of course you do. Remember the pod racing scene? Well, you’ve got two options there: you either enjoyed that entire protracted sequence, or you found it boring as hell, and spent all your time fantasizing about when that dreamy Darth Maul was going to show up. No matter your choice, now imagine doing that while standing up. It’s cool that Lucasarts decided to produce a Star Wars “cinematic experience” for this otherwise lightweight game, but every minute spent watching a prologue crawl of text or listening to Yoda jibber jabber about light and dark is also a moment you’re expected to be standing and at the ready, and it gets exhausting. Sure, you can sit back down, but then get ready for your Kinect to get confused and mistake the cat for your left foot, again.

At a certain point this game crosses the threshold between “bad videogame” and “psychological torture”. How long have you been standing there in your living room? To access the next level, begin repeating back to your Kinect how many Microsoft and Star Wars products you would like to purchase…

Think about itOh, and the whole thing is “hosted” by C-3PO and R2-D2. If you ever wondered when their crazy antics would get old, well, here you are.

Kinect Star Wars is terrible. It somehow manages to cram absolutely everything bad about the Kinect into one licensed game. There’s potential here! There could, one day, be a good lightsaber game. I think we already had a pretty alright pod racing game. And who doesn’t like to wreck stuff? But what’s here is a game that practically revels in tormenting the player, and brutalizes mind and body in the pursuit of a more “immersive” experience.

I don’t want to be a jedi. After Kinect Star Wars, I don’t even want to stand up.

FGC #157 Kinect Star Wars

  • System: Xbox 360 with Kinect. I don’t normally note required peripherals, but it seemed necessary here.
  • Number of players: I don’t know… two? There’s no way I’m admitting to another real life person that I own this dreck.
  • Kinect Komplaints: I think the number one problem with this peripheral is that, after decades of buttons that work just fine, Microsoft forsook all of that for bizarre hand gestures and commands that are about as precise as Mr. Magoo threading a needle with his kneecaps. Like, if you’re playing Mortal Kombat, you hit the start button, and nothing happens, then, okay, you know this game doesn’t have a pause feature. Attempt to shout the “pause” command during a Kinect game, and nothing happens, you don’t know if there isn’t a pause function, or maybe you said the wrong thing, or maybe it didn’t hear you, Owieor maybe you have to hold your hands in the shape of a giant P, or… what do you want me to do, you blasted machine?
  • Are you sure you’re not just lazy? Look, the physical dangers of standing up over long periods have been chronicled in medical journals that I’m sure I read at a doctor’s office sometime around sixth grade. More recently, though, I’ve read up on cult indoctrination, and guess what’s a great way to wear down a person’s stamina? Kinect is trying to make you do something.
  • If you can’t say anything nice: Alright, I do appreciate that choosing your dominant hand is seamless, and that you’re not forced into being a righty, like a certain right-washed Nintendo elf.
  • Did you know? Thanks to Disney purchasing Star Wars, this was the last Star Wars game designed by Lucasarts. So whenever someone tells you that it’s Disney responsible for over-merchandising Star Wars…
    At least he's alive
  • Would I play again: This is one of the rare games that I couldn’t even wait for an auto-save. I hit the half hour mark, and just declared myself done, and popped out the disc almost immediately. That’s it. No going back.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Family Dog for the SNES. Bark along with our nation’s thirtieth most popular animated dog from the 90’s! Please look forward to it!

FGC #120 Lego Star Wars: The Video Game

BUM BUM BUMLego Star Wars: The Video Game started the Lego video game franchise, and, arguably, revitalized Lego itself as a brand for an entire generation. Obviously, there’s a direct line between Lego Star Wars and the eventual Lego Indiana Jones or Lego Marvel Super Heroes games, and I’m also of the belief that we would never have seen the fantastic Lego Movie and the forthcoming Lego Batman without the success of this one game. Lego Star Wars: The Video Game was the cornerstone of an entire media empire.

And I want to say it was an accident.

LSW:TVG was developed by Traveller’s Tales, a British video game development studio founded in 1989. Want to hear some of their pre-Lego output? Well, this was the studio behind the video game adaptions of Weakest Link, Finding Nemo, and Toy Story. But wait! TT also worked with established gaming mascots like Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot… in Sonic R, Sonic 3D Blast, and Crash Twinsanity. Woof. Your mileage may vary, but Mickey Mania, a 16-bit title featuring Mickey Mouse traipsing through a number of his classic cartoons, seemed to be the only Traveller’s Tales developed video game that could be described without saying “it’s fun, but…” before 2005.

Also, don’t confuse Mickey Mania with Disney’s Magical Quest: Starring Mickey Mouse. Magical Quest was Capcom, and it was unequivocally astounding.

But let’s not spend all day insulting Traveller’s Tales releases, lets also look at horrible Star Wars games. Practically from the moment the You build 'em, you drag 'em aroundmedium was invented, there have been a lot of Star Wars games. It only makes sense, as practically everything in Star Wars translates well to the idea of a video game, from laser duels to space shooting to Han Solo having a dance off against Lando. Unfortunately, your average Star Wars video game… sucks. Like, really horribly sucks. The Atari games were passable, but still very much Atari games. The Super Star Wars trilogy was faithful to the series, but also nearly impossible. And then there’s the glut of games that decided to just focus on some random bit of Star Wars “gameplay”, like the abhorrent fighting game Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, or that wretched Star Wars Episode 1: Racer. Star Wars games have gotten better in recent years, but I maintain that the best Star Wars game still sits in another franchise. It’s the best Han Solo fanfic out there!

So, given that history, Traveller’s Tales and Star Wars together should not have been any more historic than Muppet RaceMania. And throwing in the Lego franchise, too? What was that supposed to do? Lego is meant for block building, for unfettered imagination that doesn’t require a controller. Sure, everyone has fond memories of Legos, but we all have fond memories of eating boogers, too. You get over it.

But here’s Lego Star Wars: The Video Game and it’s pretty alright. Thanks to Lego figures (minifigs) being literally made for easy customizations, LSWTVG features a whopping 56 playable Star Wars characters. Right off the bat, that’s awesome, because it seems like game designers have a tendency to ignore how very badly the public wants Darth Maul and Darth Vader to hang out. Hell, you could probably sell an entire series on the promise of a Star Wars Universe ping pong tournament. Padme and Leia playing doubles against Anakin and Han… admit it, you’d line up for presales. Lego Star Wars exploits this desire wonderfully, and even creates some memorable moments with its expansive cast.

Weesa gonna dieLSWTVG has ridiculously simple, “easy” gameplay. For instance, you can’t die. Well, you can “die”, but you respawn immediately, and the only consequence is losing a few studs (basically points). The gameplay is essentially closest to being a beat ‘em up, but there are no combos or complicated button presses. Just jump, attack, and “special”. Special, at least, is where the game shines. In order to make the huge cast more distinctive, every character gets a unique action to their class, like Jedi can use the Force to shove blocks around, or gungans can inexplicably jump high. Some of the classes seem like a stretch (blaster characters, like Amidala, get grappling hooks, and “small” characters like Anakin can fit into tight passageways), and, if you think about it, the Force users should have all abilities (Qui Gon can jump higher than Jar Jar and you know it!), but it all blends into a fun reason to switch around between Star Stars. Maybe “beat ‘em up” is the wrong genre… puzzle platformer? Is “remember which character is a Jedi” a puzzle? Is it still a puzzle game if the puzzles are for kindergarteners?

So Lego Star Wars: The Video Game is fun, but is it enough to launch a franchise? Yes, it’s fun for kids and parents alike, but you don’t see Nicktoons Racing setting the shelves ablaze. And keep in mind that this game was released in 2005, well past the time when “run jump maybe shoot” could launch a six part series. This was the same year the perennial Shadow the Hedgehog was released. LSWTVG was a better than average Star Wars game… so why the love?

Well, I think it’s a matter of timing. LSWTVG was released in 2005… before the release of Star Wars Episode 3. Want to know what’s going to happen in the upcoming, highly anticipated finale of the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy? Well here’s your answer, wrapped up in a fun game! Sure, it’s a game that looks and plays like it’s made for babies, but it has answers. Sweet, delicious answers!

Never underestimate a nerd’s desire to know what happens next. If the finale to Game of Thrones was written on George R. R. Martin’s ass, you better believe Gamestop would make a killing selling combination bifocals/nose plug sets.

So sadI take it back, Lego Star Wars: The Video Game wasn’t an accident. If there’s a franchise in this universe that knows how to merchandize, it’s Star Wars. Knowing full well the fan reaction, LSW:TVG was released ahead of Episode 3’s cinematic masterstroke (citation needed). A “pretty alright” game was instantly grabbed up by children, parents, and lonely, spoiler starved nerds alike. The masses catapulted LSW:TVG’s sales into the stratosphere, and it became one of the best selling games ever for the Playstation 2. And a franchise birthed a whole new franchise.

And, really, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of minifigs.

I said it before, didn’t I? Traveller’s Tales games were never that great… but they rarely received sequels, too. Sonic R? There’s obviously a great game featuring Sonic and his pals racing (and has the subtitle “Transformed”), but we weren’t going to see it on a maiden voyage across the stormy Saturn seas. Lego Star Wars: The Video Game wasn’t all that great, but it succeeded. And that begat Lego Star Wars 2, and then Lego Other Franchises, and now, today, we have fully-realized, amazing Lego game experiences like Lego Marvel Whatever or Lego City Undercover. The series may have exploited a “cheat” to get there, but now we’ve got complete Lego Worlds to play with.

I guess you could say Lego Star Wars: The Video Game was some kind of… building block.

FGC #120 Lego Star Wars: The Video Game

  • Pew PewSystem: Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, PC, OS X, and Gameboy Advance. Game gets around.
  • Number of players: Two, simultaneous, and the game is just plain perfect for playing with a younger sibling, child, or someone who is just plain bad at video games thanks to the nigh invulnerability of minifigs. It’s like someone finally remembered the best feature from Kirby Super Star.
  • Forgetting something? Oh yeah! There are all these vehicle stages to break up the monotony of playing as an adorable lil’ Lego man (or woman). They’re… not that great. But at least they’re not long!
  • Mission Complete: And, yeah, I suppose thanks to the “easy” gameplay, I was subconsciously forced to collect every doodad and stud hidden in this game. All minifigs unlocked (yay Kit Fisto![?]), and my lil’ Lego hangar is the swankiest.
  • Other Tales: Never confuse Traveller’s Tales for Telltale Games. Two tooooootally different companies.
  • Favorite Character: General Grievous, who is quad-wielding lightsabers, and thus the best possible character available. No stupid cough for this cyborg!
  • LAVA!Did you know? According those that combed the code, Spaceman Ben, classic blue Lego astronaut, was planned for this game, but scrapped. That silly shapeshifter assassin from Episode 2 was also supposed to be in there, but who cares?
  • Would I play again: Another “I love this game but there are better sequels to play” situation. At least this one offers that unique Star Wars Prequels flavor, but if it comes down to this or Spider-Man, I know which one I’m going to choose.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Chameleon Twist for the N64! Let’s (Chameleon) Twist again, like we did last (N64) Summer! Please look forward to it!

FGC #076 Star Wars (Arcade)

Star Wars is bigger than every man, woman, and child on Earth, and that’s a good thing.

If you’re reading this, I am, incidentally, assuming you are a Star Wars fan. No, I don’t mean to imply that you are putting the finishing touches on your Count Dooku costume, that your wedding was wookie themed, or even that you have a lightsaber hanging over your fireplace across from your wampa-skin rug. What I mean is that you like Star Wars, you’re likely to see the new movie, and you’ve probably seen a number of the previous movies (I’d say “all”, but I haven’t seen that animated one myself, and I’m a stickler for technicalities). Big Bang Theory characterization aside, it is entirely possible to be a fan of something, like Star Wars, and not emblazon your life with a thousand metaphorical (or literal) Death Star tattoos. So, again, given you are reading what is predominantly a video game blog, I’m going to go ahead and guess that you like Star Wars. Probably a pretty safe bet.

That said, I myself am a fan of Star Wars, but not a fanatic for Star Wars. This is not to disparage anyone who is fanatical for the Force. We’re definitely dealing with a glass houses thing here; it would be downright disingenuous for me to mock anyone’s collection of Storm Troopers when I’m writing this in the shadow of a rather ominous Galactus toy, and, while I’ve never dressed as a Jedi, I’m pretty sure there’s a few photos of me floating around with a rather intricate Pokémon costume. Star Wars has never exactly been my thing, but that is likely not the fault of the series or its fandom, just that there’s only so much room in my heart for space battles in far off galaxies, and Voltron has already combined to fill that position.

All that is just preamble so I can say this not as a fan (or fanatic), but as someone who claims to pay attention to culture: Star Wars is now a religion. And that’s still a good thing.

Nobody wants to hear this, but I’m going to say that if you were born after the release of the original trilogy, you’re going to live to see a remake of Star Such GraphicsWars IV. You’re going to see Luke Skywalker played by someone other than Mark Hamill. You’re going to see a C-3PO and R2-D2 that are updated for “modern audiences”. This isn’t a matter of “if”, it’s “when”. If this sounds crazy to you, consider that they’re casting a “Young Han Solo” as we speak, and that’s a hop, skip, and jump away from, “you love the character, not the actor, right? Prove your love.”

And, yes, it will be a shameless cash grab. Yes, they’re going to remake Star Wars IV for the same reason they’re remaking Final Fantasy 7 as a multi-part “series”: everyone already knows that you care about the original trilogy more than any tale of rebellious Bothans or Darth Vader’s childhood racing career, so why bother with all the fat, let’s get right to that juicy, juicy steak. You’ve been begging for something that made you feel like you were watching A New Hope for the first time for decades, so, ya know, here’s A New Hope, new, again, for the first time. John Williams Jr. is set to compose the score.

Cash grab or not, though, this is how myths work. Consider Hercules, Gilgamesh, or even Batman. There are stories of Hercules dying and ascending to godhood, there are tales of Gilgamesh off and committing non-Humbaba related deeds, and we’ve all heard about the time Batman became an old man and started ranting about whores way too much… but that’s not what people want. Okay, yeah, there are always people who want the whole story, the story of how Superman one day retires, or the tale of what happens after the Odyssey, but look at the stories that are told over and over again. The average man on the street probably can’t name a single one of ‘em, but he’ll know that Hercules was known for twelve labors. Your momma might not know a thing about Batman, but she knows he fights the Joker over and over again. And, heck, Final Fantasy’s Gilgamesh and PEW!Enkidu may have next to nothing to do with their original portrayal, but that’s the nature of myth, that the general thought remains, and a hero searching eternally for something is more powerful than what some tablets (stone, not digital) ever claimed Gilgamesh actually did. There is a reason every damn Spider-Man story goes back to the Uncle Ben well, and ignores that time Peter Parker killed Mary Jane with radioactive sperm.

For all its profit mongering and copyright hoarding, Disney Corp knows what to do with a myth. Everyone always whines about Disney’s “straight to video” oeuvre, like Beauty and the Beast and Christmas, or Cinderella 3 (a movie that contains an unusual amount of time travel), and the general sentiment is that these movies are crass exploitations of brands that should remain unsullied with pointless sequels far beyond the scope of their initial creators. So… which creators are we talking about here? The people that made Disney movies back in the late 1900s, or the original authors who wrote this stuff down centuries ago, or even the storytellers who first pioneered the downtrodden girls who turn out to be princesses and raging beasts that are just cursed little boys archetypes? Disney has taken these tales and codified them, to the point that the idea of a “Beast” that looks nothing like 1991’s version seems foreign, and the concept of seven dwarfs without descriptive names is just bizarre. It’s not like there haven’t been a thousand productions, shows, and books about “Beauty and the Beast”, but one company has, for better or worse, made it theirs, and that’s what Americans of all ages believe in.

Disney is going to make Star Wars something that is never ending. And that’s still a good thing.

Look at itStar Wars is a lot of things to a lot of people, but that’s what myths are. Back in elementary school, we’re told that myths were simply stories created by frightened primitives attempting to explain the world around them. Thunder and Lightning aren’t scary, they’re just Zeus bowling. The volcano is erupting because we haven’t sacrificed nearly enough virgins. The sun travels through the sky because it is chased by an all-devouring pink ball that is envious of its fireball ability. But the greatest myth told to children is that myths were the be all and end all of explanations for earlier societies, as if an unwavering belief in the gods was all it ever took to placate the masses. Obviously, I don’t have the inside scoop on any archeologists, but, call me crazy, I no more trust that every last Grecian believed in Helios ferrying the sun around than people today believe every truck is secretly a robot in disguise. Myths, more than anything, are entertainment, and always have been. The finer myths, the ones that really do move from generation to generation, those myths possess some truth, some explanation for the world, but you’ll get the same satisfying morality from Oedipus or Luke’s dysfunctional relationships.

And, really, that’s why Star Wars can become a myth that will go on forever. Hero’s Journey, Western, Samurai Flick, Flash Gordon; wherever you want to place its origins, the original Star Wars is many things to many people because it is many things. Star Wars drew from many, many different sources for its final product, and the melting pot of themes and characters got a strew going that can appeal to practically anyone. We’ve got a whiny farm boy that turns out to be the savior of the universe for all you kids that scribble emo poetry on your Livejournal, there’s the cool jock that is just too good for all this played by a guy who is convinced he’s too good for all this, and a pretty pretty princess that is incidentally a blood-thirsty murderess/sex symbol for a generation. And on the other side of the aisle there is maybe the most iconic, menacing bad guy in the history of cinema, Grand Moff Tarkin, and also some dude wearing his finest funeral cape and a spray-painted samurai helmet. And then there’s Emperor Palpatine, the guy who had to be super-duper evil to stand over Vader’s It's a crap!generally evil, so that way when Vader flips at the final hour, there’s this old man that nobody feels bad about giving the ol’ shaft. So if you want to like the bad guys, feel free, because there’s a worse guy.

Star Wars, original Star Wars, is filled with amazing characters and worlds (a whole universe, let’s say) that are simultaneously lovingly defined and just vague enough to be anything to anybody. There’s a couple of “absolute rules” for each character, but beyond stuff like Chewie wouldn’t eat Leia, you can take these folks and stick them in any situation. Han can be a young thief, smarmy smuggler, or reluctant mentor, and it works, because he’s Han Solo. And if it doesn’t work? Who cares, we’ll keep the stories that we do like, and cut out the chafe during the next reboot.

That’s the other thing about myths: their canonicity is forever in flux. Sorry, person who has to write the latest Guide to the Star Wars Universe, but your work might be for naught in a few short years. We’ve already seen it once with Star Wars, when all the voices of the Expanded Universe were suddenly silenced as Goofy steamrolled into town. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever read those stories again, simply that they’re not the “answer” they once were. Bad news for nerds: there is no end for Star Wars, there’s barely a future beyond Vader’s death, and that’s all there ever be. Episode 7, 8, 9? They’ll continue the story, but if nobody likes them, or someone just wants to tell a new story in thirty years, they’ll be taken out with the trash like that time Chewbacca took a moon to the face. Just for you, CaitlenOh, we need Chewie again for another story? Erm… that never happened… he’s… he’s up and he’s cool and dating a woman named Mara Jade, or something. It won’t happen immediately, but our children, and our children’s children will be complaining about the latest holonovel featuring the stupid seventh iteration of stupid C-3P0, and why can’t they just go back to the human-shaped version of the character, he was so much funnier before he had six tentacles!

Star Wars will never have a consistent canon again. And that’s a good thing.

And you know why this is all a good thing? Because we’re all going to die.

If you are reading this, you’re old enough to be able to read. If you’re old enough to be able to read, you have a whole host of preconceived notions and beliefs that will only grow more inflexible and stubborn with age. What you consider normal will, inevitably, by the time you are an old fart, be something that is holding society back. You can see it right now with centuries of outmoded gender and sexuality beliefs coming to a head with one generation saying, “who cares?” and another responding, “because!” I’m not going to claim to be immune, either. I am a Level 9 carnivore, and cannot enjoy a meal unless I am thoroughly convinced some other creature suffered before landing on my plate. I consider myself a friend to animals, and I am well aware that any given meat product is the end result of horrendous torture on individual creatures, and also an ongoing assault on the environment in general. And, still, I move my mashed potatoes around a little bit to simulate a teeny tiny hunt, because I must have that primal, delicious feeling of crunching down on prey. It’s bad for everybody involved, including myself, and I rationally know this, but you will have to pry a porterhouse out of my cold, dead hands to get me to stop. And that’s just it, the only way society as a whole ever gets anywhere is not because an entire, gigantic segment of the population decides to change their collective minds, but because the old generation eventually goes extinct, and finally the next guys can make some actual progress without having to appease grandpa.

VrooomGeorge Lucas was 33 when Star Wars was released. While there are an overwhelming number of “older” influences on the film, A New Hope’s mere existence is a sign that Lucas was not satisfied with what came before. Star Wars was literally birthed of youthful exuberance.

The absolute core of Star Wars fandom for many people is a need to feel that same joy that could be experienced as a child. Unfortunately, that’s no more possible for fans than waking up one morning to find your childhood puppy licking your face. Don’t worry, you can still love Buster VIII like Buster The First, but you’ll never feel that exact sensation again. But while your childhood will forever be out of reach, there are a billion children out there waking up to their Buster, their Star Wars. Yes, their Star Wars could be something completely different, and we shouldn’t force our fetishes on a fresh generation, but now Disney will see Star Wars go on in perpetuity, so the possibility is there. My grandfather, a retired WWII Navy man, loved Popeye, and so did I, because Popeye is silly. I don’t even have kids, left alone grandkids, but I can tell you that if, when it’s my time to sit out on the front port in a rocking chair and rant at clouds, I can also talk with my grandkids about how cool R2-D2 is, well, I’d consider that a small price to pay for having to hear about the fact that R2-D2 rides a hoverboard and wears shades now.

Let Star Wars evolve. Don’t limit it to just what you want, and let it become something new, something different, something for the future. Let it go, let the next generation make their own memories, and let Star Wars become something more than it ever was. Let the Star Wars movie become the eternal Star Wars myth. Let yourself change, and enjoy what Star Wars can be.

And, trust me, it will be a good thing.

FGC #76 Star Wars Arcade

  • System: Arcade, 32X. That’s about it.
  • Number of Players: Two. Yes, one of you can be the heroic pilot, and the other a lowly droid. We serve your kind here.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: I’m going to claim this is the most limited Star Wars video game in the universe, including any and all Atari releases. This is a game that, released decades after the original trilogy, covered only the absolute final act of Episode IV, and doesn’t include a single lightsaber, wookie, or even a contemptible ewok. Actually, this kinda falls into the same hole HEAVY BREATHINGas its 32X brother, Kolibri: it’s a fun enough game, but it feels wildly limited, like an early Nintendo game tried to play at being quadruple the bits. I think this game does have the same number of stages as Donkey Kong…
  • And you’re no good at it, are you? Okay, that’s also true. Head’s up, if you ever need someone to aid you in a dog fight, I’m probably not your guy, because it seems like the only time I’m ever good in this genre is Star Fox. How does Nintendo do it?
  • So, basically, you found the shortest Star Wars game available so you could rant about the films? Guilty. Though, in my defense, I did claim this could happen in the FAQ.
  • Did you know? If you took all the Star Wars trivia on Earth, wrote it all down, and piled it end to end, it would reach as far as the moon. Wait a minute, that’s no moon!
  • Would I play again: I barely played this the first time. If it wasn’t for limited credits (a tradition that I will forever be thankful for ending), you could probably finish this entire game from start to finish in like 45 minutes. And, yes, I mean “you’ve never played the game before” start. Poor choice of a launch game for the 32X, though not a bad tech demo.

What’s next?
Random ROB has chosen… the best Star Wars game that was ever produced to close out Star Wars week. What’s the name of the game? Well, you’ll have to pop back in on Friday to find out. Please look forward to it!

FGC #075 Super Star Wars

Williams Score not includedRecently, there’s been a lot of hype about some sort of Star Wars movie, apparently the seventh one, as I understand it. So, being the inquisitive sort, and, understanding that many of you out there in the blogosphere have no time to see the original Star Wars, (titled, simply, Super Star Wars) I have taken it upon myself to write a detailed summary of the events that occur in this first Star Wars.

Our story begins in a galaxy far, far away, where a beautiful princess is apparently getting her hands dirty and working with some terrorists to bring down a gigantic empire headed by some black guy. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound racist, but I didn’t catch his name. Anyway, Dark Darkley apparently captures Princess Leia and…

Meet Luke Skywalker, as played by a young Guybrush Threepwood. Luke leads a difficult, desert-based life hunting pterodactyls and scorpions. He uses his mighty zapper gun to bring down these creatures, and then collects their pelts, (they look very similar to Valentine’s Day hearts) which can be traded for goods and services. Occasionally, a desert dweller will explode into a new gun, but that is very unusual, as scorpion digestive tracts very rarely process food into weapon upgrades. Eventually, Luke meets a Sarlacc Pit Monster, a monster that would be deadly to only the weakest of hunters, and is very upset when the sandworm completely explodes, leaving not a scrap of precious… anything behind. Sadly, Luke’s family will go hungry tonight.

But there is a new hope! Luke finds a golden robot calling himself C-3PO. C-3PO asks Luke to find his “partner” that has been captured by jawas. So they hop in C-3PO’s hover convertible and roam ZOOOMthe desert beating the partner’s whereabouts out of the various jawas running about. Luke must kill 12 jawas before gaining information about the captured ‘bot. Oh, and the jawas? They’re like little teddy bears in cloaks. They make the most adorable little squeal as Luke mows them down, and, frankly, I think there is no partner droid for C-3PO. I think the machine-man is programmed to hate and murder furry creatures, and is using Luke as the trigger man. I can’t blame him, but still, seems kinda weird for a kid’s movie.

Eventually, Luke and C-3PO find the Technodrome, which is apparently the jawa home base. Luke infiltrates the teddy bear tank, and leaps across the spike-filled, instantly fatal pits inside on his way to rescue a soulless automaton. And there’s lasers friggen everywhere. If there’s one thing these miniature fur balls know how to do, it’s build laser death traps. I’m not sure how advanced the jawa culture is supposed to be, but they apparently got too many design ideas from Quick Man. At the bottom of the tank is C-3PO’s partner, (I apologize for my earlier distrust of the killer robot) but it is being guarded by Lava Beast Jawenko. LBJ is slightly unusual in that he is rising from desert sand and calling himself a “lava beast”. SpicyI know special effects haven’t always been up to the standards we have today, but if Izzy’s Quest for the Olympic Rings can have legitimate lava monsters, then Lucasarts can spring for them too.

LBJ succumbs to Luke’s master death ray skills after some time, and C-3PO’s pitifully named partner, R2-D2, is rescued from certain standing there all day. To move the plot along, R2-D2 demands to be taken to Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is, as best I can tell, some sort of desert dude like Luke. Maybe he’s his dad or something? Anyway, Luke knows the way to Old Man Ben’s place, so the trio takes the quickest route possible, which contains a great deal of levitating rocks. And falling rocks. And exploding rocks. There’s a whole big rock thing going on.

Luke survives Super Rock Wars and finds Obi-Wan, who, as it turns out, knows Leia’s dad, and demands Luke go off and rescue the blue woman. Speaking of blue, Obi-Wan also grants Luke a blue sword that he claims is the weapon of a “jedi knight”; however, Obi never explains what a “jedi knight” is, but I suppose that’s something that comes up in the sequels. In the meanwhile, it appears the best Jedi Knight Luke can do is club buffalo banthas over and over again and watch them explode. There are a surprising number of volatile desert creatures in this picture.

Oh, and for approximately 5 minutes, it’s back to hover-car jawa killin’ with everyone’s favorite furry frying contraption, C-3PO. Luckily, this is the last we see of him for the rest of the movie, so thank your lucky stars at will. While it’s never explained why he goes missing until the very final shot, I would assume there is some sort of censorship on my copy, and he most likely dies an unnecessarily gruesome death, maybe at the hands of the adorable jawas. Hey, it’s karma.

Mos Eisly (some sort of barrel factory) is the next stop, where a new, explodable enemy appears. The storm trooper, a white clad flunky of the dark clad flunky, now attacks Luke en masse. While the troops aren’t too good at shooting, their greatest ability appears to be falling directly on top of our hero. Perhaps they were trained in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Who's the boss?Luke then meets Chewbacca, a large hairy fellow, that, surprisingly enough, MS Word recognizes as a properly spelled noun. I think Chewbacca is a grown up jawa, but this, like many things in Super Star Wars, is completely unexplained. Guess that’s why there are sequels.

Chewbacca and Luke then take on an entire bar of crazy monsters that are never seen again, all set to the most exasperating fight music ever conceived. I think I’d heard it before on a Lego commercial, but definitely not by choice. At the far right of the bar is a creature calling himself Kalhar Boss Monster, who gets shot a couple of times, and then explodes. He must have been an evolutionary offshoot of those desert creatures.

Han Solo then decides to join up, and he’s got a ship! Yay! Finally these morons can get off this blasted desert planet. Come to think of it, a planet is a very big place, so likely the entire planet isn’t desert, it’s just the area that Luke lives in that happens to be a desert. After all, it would pretty short-sighted and childish for there to be a “desert planet” and then maybe an “ice planet”, “swamp planet”, or “lava planet”, because we have all of those environments on our limited planet, and we’re not even the biggest planet in our solar system. I’m sure the creator of this series took that into account, and didn’t just think up a new planet every time he needed a new environment.

Anyway, after a brief detour through a factory followed by a battle with the terrifying Maintenance Droid; Luke, Chewie, and Solo reach their ship and are immediately captured in the dreaded Death Star’s tractor beam. Their combined rescuing skills are subpar at best.

The Death Star is aptly named. First of all, there are giant open holes all over the place. I, personally, have never been to space, but Up and awayI have seen a great deal of filmstrips on the subject, and, as I understand it, if you have a structure in space with giant holes in it, said structure will kill everyone and everything in it, and possibly destroy the universe. But Luke need only leap over said pits to save his own skin, while those storm troopers, still anxious to use their amazing landing abilities, fall straight to a spacey death. At least instant, horribly painful annihilation is what happens in our universe, maybe in the Lucasverse, now sponsored by Disney, empty space is filled with delicious candy. The Death Star also contains the Imperial Defense Droid, which is a giant metal frog. This empire is corrupt, and possibly in love with reptiles. Somebody call Bucky O’Hare.

Luke, finally, rescues the princess, who, luckily, is not in another Death Star. Meanwhile, the rarely seen Obi Wan battles the even more rarely seen, but at least now named, Darth Vader. And then nothing happens. We get one scene of Obi Wan and Darth Vader with lightsabers drawn, and then nothing. It’s either sloppy editing or more censorship, but I still can’t believe they clipped the climatic duel between two characters that appear in maybe one scene each. Oh well, I assume Obi Wan wins, because wizened old mentors are invincible forces of immortality.

And it’s time for Luke to destroy the Death Star! Apparently the planet-sized space station has some teeny tiny shaft that will blow the whole thing sky high… or… something. So Luke pilots his Red-5, which is a space jet that controls like an underwater tank, and shoots an awful lot of things. He’s told “May the Force be with you,” but this “Force” thing was never explained, and it turns out to be Think about it“the R button”. It’s odd. But Luke hits that R button and launches missiles right into the Death Star’s giant gaping weakness. And the universe is saved! Great shot, kid!

But as the credits roll, an ominous message scrolls by… The Empire may strike back. Will it? I don’t know, this Super Star Wars kind of took a while, and I’m none too interested in getting toasted by another “lava” monster. But I hope this synopsis has helped you to better understand the events in Star Wars VII. I hear this time Darth Vader is a woman? I don’t know. But may the force be with you! I think!

FGC #75 Super Star Wars

  • System: Super Nintendo, and then Wii, and now Playstation 4 and Vita out of nowhere.
  • Number of Players: One, but depending on the level, you have your choice of Luke, Han, or Chewie. Come to think of it, this game would be just right for a 2-Player Co-Op Remake.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: I’m really curious about the intention of the designers on this one, because the game is difficult. Like, “never going to see the fourth level” difficult. You’d think that a game themed after Star Wars, generally considered a “fun kids’ movie” for a decade or so, would be a Hard lifelittle lighter on the challenge, but, nope, prepare to die over and over again, Vader rules the universe forever. I realize this may have been an outgrowth of that pervasive thinking that a “difficult” or “hard to beat” game was more likely to be purchased (and not just rented), but, come on, guys, at least let Luke survive long enough to get a lightsaber.
  • Further Spell Check Woes: MS Word can deal with “Chewbacca”, but not “lightsaber”, apparently.
  • Choices, Choices: Is there any reason to play as Han or Chewie? Luke’s lightsaber is amazing (he made spinning lightsword attacks cool before Yoda or Zero), and he can resort to a blaster whenever he wants. Han gets… the ability to roll around? Chewie… smells terrible?
  • How memory works: I blame Nintendo Power, but Kalhar Boss Monster’s sprite is burned into my brain for some reason. I think I recognize that thing on sight more quickly than Jar Jar.
  • Did you know? The Debug Code (which you better believe I abused as a kid) that allows you to skip levels and be invincible also allows you to choose whichever character you’d like for whichever stage you’d like… except the stage where you meet Han Solo at the end, where, despite being able to use Han in every stage prior, he is unavailable. I guess more than one Han in the same place would cause a universe far, far away to buckle under too much awesomeness.
  • Would I play again: Unlikely. If I want the Star Wars experience, I’m going to play a game that isn’t so actively against me. Or, ya know, just watch the movie.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Star Wars Arcade for the 32X. Fair warning? It’s going to be another article where I use the “Maybe actually talk about the game for a second” bullet point, because you better believe I have other things to talk about in this franchise. Please look forward to it!

It's all true