Star Wars has always held a special place in my heart, and I grew up on Star Wars games like Rogue Squadron, Rebel Assault II, and Shadows of the Empire. Lucky for me, there are numerous old titles available on the PlayStation Plus Classics Catalog. I decided to download a few Star Wars titles and see how these hold up after so many years. And with that, let’s dig in.
Star Wars: Demolition
And we are not off to a great start. I remember this title was big around the time that other vehicle destruction games such as Twisted Metal, Vigilante 8, and to a lesser extent, Destruction Derby were big. This game asked the bold question “how about Vigilante 8 but with Star Wars wallpaper?” The first thing that reminded me that I was spoiled by modern tutorials was that there is no tutorial in this. For my younger readers, games used to come with an instruction manual that explained controls and other important parts of gameplay. Sometimes they even had key story elements that helped to explain the plot.
Trying to play Demolition sans manual was a challenge as the game doesn’t tell you what the different colored bars around the vehicles mean. The characters are an interesting group with known characters such as Boba Fett and Aurra Sing, along with a random lesser-known cast of characters and vehicles including the Rancor. Demolition’s visuals were unappealing during its zenith, and it has not gotten better with age. The controls were unpleasant and the title depressed me, but I was still hopeful that the next one was going to be better.
Star Wars: Racer Revenge
It wasn’t. I loved the original Star Wars: Racer on the N64 and feel it was an underappreciated racer as a whole. I grabbed Racer Revenge which I have never played before and entered, once again, without a guide. The controls felt slightly different than the first title and had these really janky early PS2 graphics that were as smooth as the production line at the Gillette factory. What really bothered me was somehow the graphics were worse than the N64, and the hardest part was racing against the environment.
To explain further, the first race will act as a great case study. Like the first title, you begin at the Tatooine race from the movie. What is different from the first game is the track is a lot tighter, so you start out playing bumper cars before any real racing. Then, I kept running into the walls because the textures made them look like banks, which is something also present in the first game as well, and they were very much not.
I don’t understand how you can take a great formula and then completely miss the target a couple years later. Overall, I’d take the disjointed and ugly Demolition over Racer Revenge. At this point I was wondering if I had enough nostalgia to finish out my downloads.
Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter
This title was the closest I was going to get to redemption in terms of PlayStation ported classics. I remember playing this, along with Star Wars: Naboo Starfighter, when I was younger. Also, anyone who knows me will tell you that I love ship games. This title held up as much as I thought it would, and it was nice to sit back and enjoy it. Starfighter is a great example of showing a progression in mechanics when you compare it to Star Wars: Squadrons that released decades later. Starfighter felt like everything was set to half speed.
I will say it did feel slower compared to some of its contemporaries including Rogue Squadron and Rogue Squadron 2, but Starfighter was fine. These titles showed me something about old LucasArts games. When they tried to be innovative or fresh (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: Republic Commando) they made interesting games with strong stories and impressive mechanics. However, when they tried to copy popular game archetypes (Star Wars: Demolition, Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing) the titles were uninspired and of poor quality.
Overall, these Star Wars titles did not live up to my nostalgia as much as I would have hoped. But they are great to look at from a historical perspective. Thankfully, PlayStation didn’t let them fall to the sands of time. If you have the higher tier PlayStation Plus, you can try these Star Wars titles in the PlayStation Plus Classics Catalog for free. Otherwise, I would just let them live in your memories.