Once again, I'm sorry about the length.
Star Wars: Episode 1: Racer - Review
Platforms: Sega Dreamcast, Game Boy Color, N64, PC
Ask people what part of 1999ís box-office smash Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace sticks in their head, and most will reply the heart-pounding Podrace in the middle of the movie (others will reply Jar Binksí annoying antics). So itís hardly surprising that there is now a game based on just that one scene.
There are 25 races in total, held on one of 8 planets, from familiar Tatooine to the newly-designed Mon Gazza. Each planet has itís own hidden perils; ice, methane pools, meteors and, of course, the other 17 podracers who will do anything to win first place.
The early races are easy enough; in fact, I won the first 7 in 1st place on my first go. But they do get harder; much harder. You will race on lush beaches, to busy speedways, in underwater cities, and to top it off, the Classic Boonta Eve race. Yes, thatís right, the one in the movie.
The pods have nice little moves which can make all the difference in a race. For example, holding down a couple of buttons will flip your pod onto its side, while another will give it a short burst of speed. Watch that your engines donít overheat, though, or youíll end up with a trail of smoke pouring out of an engine.
There are a number of podracers you can play as to start with, and completing races unlocks others. Anakin Skywalker is the best one for beginners; he has the most balanced pod in turning, speed and acceleration, plus it looks so cool. Sebulbaís massive orange podracer is probably the best; however, you will have to finish the game before you can race his. Sorry.
Completing a race in 1st-3rd place will win you cash to upgrade with. Upgrading is essential to winning the later races.
Unfortunately, there isnít much replay value in this game. Once the game is completed, you can go back to race again, but you wonít gain any more credits or unlock other pods.
Once again, LucasArts deliver top-quality sounds for their game. Each podracer has itís own little engine sound, be it a tiny chugging to a massive roar. And once again, the music is taken directly from the movie. Itís put together wonderfully, and itís a real pleasure to hear when youíre twisting around Beggarís Canyon.
Jake ĎAnakin Skywalkerí Lloyd is back for this game, as well as Andy ĎWattoí Secombe and comedic duo Greg Proops and Scott Capurro as the two-headed announcer Fode and Beed (along with Ahmed ĎJar Jar Binksí Best, these are only actors to reprise their roles in all the games). A lot of the other podracers donít speak in the movie, so fans will be happy to hear them taunt each other.
With the exception of the Game Boy format, the graphics are truly superb. The pods themselves are amazingly detailed, with all the scratches and dents you would expect to see. The locals are very well realised as well, and the sand blowing up from under the pod on Tatooine is a nice touch. Still, what else would you expect from LucasArts?
Wonderful. Thatís all that can be said. The opening race is especially good, as the others are all introductions to the different planets.
This game came out about the same time as the movie, back in 1999. Electronics Boutique sell this game for PC ($18), N64 ($10, yes, $10!), Game Boy Color ($35) and Dreamcast ($40). For internet buyers, OnVia.com are selling it for Windows at $15.20 with free shipping. With such a wide range to choose from, youíll have no problem getting hold of this game. Well worth picking up.
[This message has been edited by Dave Maul (edited July 31, 2000).]