(Wii Virtual Console / Super Nintendo)

Super Star Wars (Wii Virtual Console / Super Nintendo)

Game Review

Super Star Wars Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Spencer McIlvaine

Is the force strong with this one?

When Super Star Wars was released in 1992, it was an instant success. Offering old-school platforming but set in the Star Wars universe and culminating in the destruction of the Death Star, the video game format fit the movies like Harrison Ford fits the role of a roguish scoundrel. At the time, video game critics and Star Wars fans alike heralded the game as a great success. But has it held up over time as well as the movies have?

In Super Star Wars your goal, as in most platformers, is to relentlessly charge from left to right in your pursuit of whatever comes next. However, Super Star Wars succeeds in breaking this cliché by changing things up in two ways. First, not every screen requires you to move from left to right and often you will actually have to figure out which direction to go. It’s not quite like Metroid or Castlevania as there is still always a starting and ending point to every level, but it feels a bit more open ended than most other similar games.

Second, not every level is platforming-based. Starting in the second level, the game dabbles in other styles of play. In this case, driving around in a speeder using Mario Kart-style Mode 7 graphics. Unlike Mario Kart, however, this level looks ugly and plays awkwardly by today’s standards. But at the time, it was considered something of a revelation to have a platformer not be just a platformer and as such it was very original for its day.

Most of the game is still a platformer. And even though you have weapons, you’ll still be doing a lot of platform jumping. Most famously, this game includes the infamous exterior sandcrawler stage where the player must hop around from platform to platform on a moving sandcrawler all while dodging random projectiles that can knock you backwards slightly if they hit you. If you fall, it’s back to the beginning. This is perhaps the hardest level in the game and you get hit with it right at the very beginning.

But don’t expect the rest of the game to be a cakewalk as this is relentlessly old-school difficult game play. Every inch of this game is a challenge, even on easy mode. The game gives you multiple lives and continues and you will no doubt use them all on the default difficulty level until you eventually have played the game enough times to figure out and anticipate all of the obstacles you will face. This is a game designed for repeat trial and error gaming and so you will need an incredible amount of patience if you ever hope to blow up the Death Star at the end.

Part of the challenge is the controls. Many of the platforming elements of the game require the player to push up as well as a direction to jump in order to jump higher. There is no "double jump" here like some other games include to make platforming easier. So although you can slightly influence your jump mid-air, you must aim with considerable precision at the very beginning of the jump. This difficulty is compounded by the problem that at some points in the game you will have to make a leap of faith with no idea where your target landing area is until after you jump.

If you die, the game allows you to use a life or a continue like in most other games in this genre until you run out. However, you lose any weapon upgrades that you have accumulated. This means that if you die in a particularly difficult spot, you will have to replay that spot with the smallest, weakest pea-shooter in the game. As a result, getting through the game from beginning to the Death Star at the end is easiest accomplished without dying at all.

Incredibly, unlike its two sequels, Super Star Wars does not feature a save or password system. This means it was intended to be played from beginning to end in one sitting. That doesn’t mean it’s a short game, however. And because of the difficulty you will no doubt be playing many of those games over and over before you finally reach the Death Star. This is where the Virtual Console shines as the game now has a very much-appreciated save feature built in, as does every other game on the service.

Many fans have hailed the ‘accuracy’ of the story in Super Star Wars and its faithfulness to the Star Wars movies. This is frankly perplexing as even the “Special Editions” of the movies gathered more fan hate for less tampering with the storyline. Without any spoilers, let's introduce the plot to bring everyone up to speed:

On a typical day on Tattooine, Luke was killing scorpions, womp rats, and what are possibly Krayt Dragons, all of whom seem intent on working together to kill Luke as well. In the middle of this slaughter, Luke meets C-3PO who tells him to rescue R2-D2 from the Jawas. With blaster fully loaded, Luke heads to the nearest Jawa sandcrawler and proceeds to kill every man, woman, and youngling inside. At the end of his rampage, he takes what he came for, a droid that under both Imperial law as well as the laws of the Republic before it no doubt legally belonged to the Jawas as salvage. And that’s the story of how R2-D2 met Luke. The movie would have you believe that it was the Empire who ruthlessly killed those Jawas. Now we know it was Luke all along. It seems he takes after his father after all.

Don’t worry about the rest of the story. As you can see it doesn’t really match the movie at all, except in the most general sense. But the story is told in glorious cutscenes, which were also a fairly recent innovation in 1992. Perhaps fans were willing to overlook the obvious story disparities in exchange for fancy drawings of scenes from the movie. Who knows, with George Lucas at the helm, in a few years this could be the new “Special Edition” storyline. After all, every epic story gets better with each retelling.

Alongside the modern “cutscene” storytelling device is the classic John Williams musical score to the movie. Offered in stereo, it was considered to be a major selling point at the time. But like much of the rest of this game, this feature has been overshadowed by more recent Star Wars games such as the Rogue Squadron series on N64 and Gamecube which features near CD quality recreations of the music.

Conclusion

Super Star Wars was a groundbreaking game for its day, but like Mark Hamill it has aged terribly. Because of its popularity when it was new it will no doubt please many former fans on nostalgia alone. And as a series it only seems appropriate to play this first entry before moving on to the superior second and third entries. But newcomers to the series should be prepared for relentless, unfair punishment like one would expect from working as Darth Vader’s secretary. The early but beautiful examples of cutscenes make the challenge worth it, even if the story has an annoying tendency to rewrite the script. But the game should not be approached without a fair amount of caution, and is only for those strong enough in the force to have, for example, a Mega Man game or two under their belt.

More Stories

Game Trailer

User Comments (81)

pixelman

#4

pixelman said:

Noooooo. This game is so an 8! I played it to death, and I owned a GameCube at the time. I will say that no password system hurt it, but the debug cheat lets you "continue" after you game over.

Knux

#5

Knux said:

This game is awesome, it deserves a 8! It is SO difficult, but I have two Mega Man games under my belt. :P

Rawk_Hawk

#6

Rawk_Hawk said:

I am playing it for the first time and really enjoying it. The graphics and music are really awesome for a SNES game. I think it's an 8/10.

astarisborn94

#8

astarisborn94 said:

I was hoping for higher, but this is a good week for the Virtual Console. This also means, WE HAVE FINALLY GOTTEN AN DECENT LICENSED GAME!

Knux

#9

Knux said:

Would somebody please tell me how to do the debug cheat with two Gamecube controllers!? THIS GAME MAKES MEGA MAN LOOK LIKE A CAKEWALK!!

Metang

#11

Metang said:

@SuperSonic1990: Ditto. This does make Mega Man look like a cakewalk, and yes it deserves an 8. Other than that, great review Spencer! I got a big nostalgic flood from finally playing it again after all these years... Wow. I'm only 13, but I feel old... :P

zane

#12

zane said:

The comments on Mark Hamills looks was very uncalled for, he is still a human being you know. I give this review a 5/10.

Egg_miester

#13

Egg_miester said:

i agree with the other posts that the game should be an 8 at least
sure it has parts where its hard as hell but with all the secret lives and power ups the difficulty isn't that bad

Machu

#14

Machu said:

I only dabbled with this as a lad, probably because it was so hard. I'd love to test my skills on it now and hope it comes to Europe soon.

The story sounds ace btw. :P

Tails

#15

Tails said:

I can't beat the First Level... could maybe someone help me with it? but otherwise i like the game i never really liked Star Wars that much but the game is awesome so is the music 8/10 is what it should get from me and i have mega man 1 2 and 3 under my belt. :p

Odnetnin

#16

Odnetnin said:

I expected a better than "decent" score for this game. Usually only Corbie is that cool.
Also, a banned user by the new name of "BMFJOSEPH90" is spamming topics with the following message:
"┌∩┐(0_0)┌∩┐ lol"
Thought I should report it 'cause he did it to my topic, lol.

Nero

#17

Nero said:

Maybe I've played it too much, but how are people finding this difficult? I played it again today and didn't loose a single life until that part in the sandpeople level where you can farm extra lives (which I did, but lost the plasma blaster :( ). Sure I can see people having difficulties playing it for the first time, but still it's not that hard.. I still love this game.

harusame

#18

harusame said:

"like Mark Hamill it has aged terribly"

That was a really cheap shot and you should be ashamed of yourself. Hamill is 57 and hasn't tried to cover it by shooting his face full of botox like the average Hollywood star. He looks good for his age and still does great voice work.

JayArr

#19

JayArr said:

Run Spencer! They are going to sick an Ewock army on you!

The 7 is fair and the review is honest. I respect that.

Olimar_91

#20

Olimar_91 said:

Mark Hamill is a cool dude, negative points on the review for that remark.

Otherwise seems fairly spot on. Once I finish Icaria-... Er, NyxQuest this one will get a download from me.

That_Guy_from_Faxana

#22

That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

Well-written review. I think the game is very good but definitly has flaws, so seven is a fair score. I actually prefer this over the sequels. passwords made "Jedi" too easy, while "Empire" is just too hard anyway. The sequels revolve a lot about collecting bonus tokens (especially "Jedi") while this first game is more straight forward action. We need more games like that now that any actiongame has to be an epic adventure.

rustythekid

#24

rustythekid said:

This one perhaps is a 7 but to me it's a solid 8, the other games are an 8.5/9. And the Mark Hammil remark it's not something I would say in a review and, while it's true, just tell me something: Who, at almost 60, ages like freakin' Sean Connery????

MattL

#25

MattL said:

Have to agree, the review is good until the conclusion. Personal insults shouldn't enter a professional article, save it for the tabloids ;)

Still, game looks cool. And if it is the one I remember from all those years ago then it was an extremely challenging game. A potential download :)

jordanr

#26

jordanr said:

I REALLY hope this hits PAL regions this week. I spent so much time on this as a kid and have had the urge to play it again for years. Why did I have to give my SNES away??

Supermarioman

#28

Supermarioman said:

David77:
Whats MDK 2?

I don't care about the review's 7, a 7 to me is a recommended purchase and I will definatley buy and try this one, if I like this one I'll buy the rest of the trilogy.

SonicMaster

#29

SonicMaster said:

@supermarioman
I looked up MDK 2 on wikipedia. It's a third-person shooter for dreamcast,
ps2, and pc. I was expecting a 9 from this one. maybe I'll wait for more reviews or something..

Edwin

#30

Edwin said:

@ Tails86

Are you playing on easy? Make sure by checking the options menu before you start. Other than that, just make sure to pick up all the hearts that enemies drop.

TwilightV

#31

TwilightV said:

Seriously. Hamill's the freaking Joker! That comment should never have existed!

...or should at least be aimed at Harrison Ford (no offense :( ).

Adamant

#32

Adamant said:

A 7 is fair, the game certainly has it's flaws. But eh, it's not THAT hard, people. I beat it on Easy first time playing it after downloading it,spending only one continue, and it's been so long since I last played it I didn't remember much of the levels. Let's not scare the kids away from the game, here.
Loved the bit on the game's plot, but I agree with the others - cheap shots at Hamill: not cool.

jbrodack

#33

jbrodack said:

lol @ mark hamill comment. I think its more aimed at his career than his looks.

MetalMario

#35

MetalMario said:

The hardest level is OUTSIDE the Sand Crawler? No. It's INSIDE that will make you want to hurt yourself. Hope you all know how to slide!

KnucklesSonic8

#36

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Dunno why everyone's picking on Spencer for his review. Sure it could've been a tad better at one or two parts but otherwise, it's a great review. I just wish it convinced me a little more to get the game. I think I'll take a wait-and-see approach and see how the other Star Wars games fare before deciding if I should get one, 'specially since I don't have points to get any of them anyhow. Glad to hear people are enjoying it though. Nice contrast from readers vs the writer ("the game hasn't aged very well" VS "the game's great/awesome").

Gabbo

#38

Gabbo said:

"Cheap shot". "Personal insult". Hmm. Now I'm glad I didn't go with the Carrie Fisher in a metal bikini joke.

Ricardo91

#39

Ricardo91 said:

Even though I love Star Wars, I'm not interested, especially with all this talk about it having insane difficulty. I'll just wait for Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

GN0LAUM

#40

GN0LAUM said:

This game is great. Yes, its not as good as TESB and ROTJ but its a solid platformer/run-and-gun/adventure game and its difficulty will keep you interested. Its not insurmountable but at the same time it saves you from a Kirby-cake-walk-bore-fest.

Strongly recommended. If you don't have the points, I'd recommend ROTJ as a nice starting point (whenever that is released) before you buy all of them. Otherwise, show Nintendo you're willing to support the VC and buy something from the VC this week!

GN0LAUM

#41

GN0LAUM said:

@Ricardo91
If you're a Star Wars fan, PLEASE don't let people turn you off of such a great Star Wars experience. You'll love it, I promise. This game is not as hard as Mega Man 9 or even Castlevania. Just play it on "easy" and you'll be fine.

Mach-X

#42

Mach-X said:

I'm ecstatic over this release, and I probably won't even play it. I'm just not a star wars fan. But many others are so in one release we got a major license, a very much wanted game, a sign virtual console ISNT dead, and those reasons alone are enough to celebrate. I guess Chicken Little (THE SKY IS FALLING VC IS DEAD) can go home now.....

DamoAdmin

#45

Damo said:

@ICEKnight - When it was originally released it was given glowing scores, but these days it's not quite as essential. That's what Spencer means when he says 'aged terribly' and I agree 100%. I loved this game back in the day but I'm not quite as excited about it now.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#46

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

I haven't played this in an age. But I do remember playing it for huge lengths of time. I loved it, but I'm not sure about re-visiting it now.

I'd personally give it an 8 with all things considered but FAIR review. Thank you.

ICEknight

#47

ICEknight said:

@Damo - That's what I meant, I think the reviews should be given scores more based on how they've aged, and not just copy whatever ratings they got back then.

A rating as high as a 7 for a game that was admittedly not too good by the reviewer, just isn't fair to other games that ended up being overlooked jewels.

teamdoa

#48

teamdoa said:

I enjoyed playing this again, but only on "easy". I think the worst thing about this game is the terrible "jump", apart from that it was fun. I am looking forward to the other games in the series.

I would love to see the N64, Shadows of the Empire hit Virtual console.

potomas

#50

potomas said:

to be honest the big draw back in the day was the amazing music.played this a lot when i was a kid, but would'nt go back to it now. it's just a below average platformer

Sean_Aaron

#51

Sean_Aaron said:

I do seem to recall not being able to get very far playing this at a friend's house, so I'm a bit cautious. Of course it's not available here yet, so no worries!

KeeperBvK

#52

KeeperBvK said:

@ David77: That's the most ridiculous stuff I've read in a while. I beat it on hard and while it can get a bit tough near the end, it's nowhere near being the hardest 3D game.

Uncle_Rick

#53

Uncle_Rick said:

7 is a fair score for this game. I thought it was a decent review, and I giggled at the Mark Hamill comment.

Metang

#54

Metang said:

"like Mark Hamill it has aged terribly"

I can look your destiny of death on your face. (A cookie for anyone who gets the reference)

Gabbo

#55

Gabbo said:

Something else to consider regarding the score is that we've got two more of these games on the way that feature better game play, new cool options like force powers, and a lightsaber that actually works like a lightsaber and not a club.

To someone planning on buying all three games no matter what, these differences don't matter. But to someone new trying to pick only one, they need a score to help differentiate between them.

And by the way, a 7 is not a bad score. It's still a recommendation but with some warnings to take into consideration before deciding if this is the right purchase for you.

Metang

#56

Metang said:

"And by the way, a 7 is not a bad score. It's still a recommendation but with some warnings to take into consideration before deciding if this is the right purchase for you."

Well, I know it's not a bad score. But I still say it deserves an eight.

hopes not to get banned

Ender

#58

Ender said:

7 is quite a fair score in my opinion.
The game is quite good but not THAT good...

Mark Hamill comment is something reviewer should consider do the two-hit combo: "edit+delete"
Regards

Ren

#59

Ren said:

Great review and totally fair. There are MUCH more offensive cheeky comments to be found on the internets, I don't mind the little jab at Hamill its pretty funny, I doubt he's losing any sleep over this sites' review. 7 is perfect since this is really fun, and he gives the appropriate warnings about controls and aging tech that was new then.

I do remember the difficulty being a little steep on this one, but thats what makes some of these classics shine and really brings out the nostalgia when actually playing it. They got a little to easy to breeze through on the other two, once they added all the 1ups (two per some levels, if I remember correctly in the other games = endless guys if you get them both each time). Also the force was an awesome addition, but this first one was really an awesome start. Plus this was such a big 'Wow' when mode-7 scaling was still pretty new so the flying levels were neat mostly for that. This is a no-brainer if you're even so much as a minor SW fan and ready to drop a few bucks.

Kid_A

#60

Kid_A said:

This game is so damn hard. I could never get past the first level.

edofthe209

#63

edofthe209 said:

I am a big fan of this game and was stoked about it's release even though I won't be buying it (I have all 3 original carts) but I will admit, age hasn't been overly kind, but it's still a great flipping game. I will say that Jedi has better graphics and all the force powers and characters to play as make it a superior entry, thus I would agree that a 7 is warranted IMO.

Supermarioman

#65

Supermarioman said:

I'll have to get MDK 2 sometime for the Dreamcast, it sound very unique and if you want to know a hard game play Ikaruga on Hard on the last level, may god have mercy on my controllers soul on that game!

David77

#66

David77 said:

@ Supermarioman
I already have played Ikaruga, but never beat it. I love it. You're right. It's hard!

Steviis_Father

#67

Steviis_Father said:

I agree with the points raised in the review, though i would've given it an 8 at least. Still, the game does shine considering what it offered in a single SNES cartridge. I own my original SNES copy until today, and the frayed condition of the box is only testament to how many times I played this game. The idle animations were incredible back then, and making Han Solo roll was an incredible trip! The game should be bought because it is one of the best pre-millenium, retro Star Wars games out there - music, graphics, gameplay variety, relative faithfulness to source material (the Empire game was even better, though Return was not as good... don't even talk to me about the indy game. Pitiful game design compared to the Star Wars games.)

If you don't own this game, enjoyed the previous trilogy, and want to a fun way to play the whole movie in a game...this is by far the best choice, because come to think of it, there has NEVER been another game that has come out (not Lego-fied) that lets you play the entire "Star Wars: A New Hope"! Awesome! Stay tuned for the next 2!

Darknyht

#68

Darknyht said:

Somehow I don't remember the punishing difficulty of this game. I know I finished it multiple times on most if not all the difficulty settings. The lightsaber was most useful when jumping, but it was understandable it was little more than a club given that Luke barely knew how to swing it in the movie.

A-SWE

#69

A-SWE said:

I only had problems inside the sandcrawler. Thats the only hard part what i can remember.

deggs

#70

deggs said:

what can i say. the game's hard. i had it as a kid. i think i've pretty much beaten it every which way i can remember (maybe not on the hardest setting) but it was a brutal slog. when a game get's this difficult because of jumping and impossible bosses, it just becomes irritating and not fun. wait for the next two (super return of the jedi being the easiest of the bunch)

Raptor78

#72

Raptor78 said:

@Prosody You do relise that the Black and White photo was before he car accident which ment he had to have 7 hours of reconstructive surgery just so he could finish filming Star Wars. To be honest I dont think they did such a terrible job. That and the fact the picture is 32 years old.

Gabbo

#73

Gabbo said:

I swear. I can understand people not finding a joke funny. But obsessing over it for months? That's not the internet I know and love.

Yami_Bakura

#74

Yami_Bakura said:

@TwilightV: Last time I checked, Harrison Ford was still very good-looking. Bastard... =/

As for the review, it was...interesting. Maybe I'll try it someday, but not right now. Still have enough of the platforming and jumping around as it is with SA2B, anyway. ^^;;

OnionOverlord

#75

OnionOverlord said:

The problem with Nintendolife reviews is that they tend to compare them to todays standards, hence the term "hasn't aged well". For the time, this was a great game (and to be fair a 7 isn't that bad, though I think it deserved maybe an 8) and as far as I'm concerned, it's still a great game. Hell, I'd rather play this than Mass Effect any day. A lot of games these days seem to have lost touch with the long-lost element of gameplay. I almost never buy new games for my 360 anymore for this very reason.

theblackdragonAdmin

#76

theblackdragon said:

To be fair, OnionOverlord, we do have to consider how well the game stacks up to contemporary titles when reviewing VC/retro games, because people are looking to find and buy them now, not back when they originally came out. That's why we have comment threads, where everyone else can chime in with how they feel about 'em. :3

pacmankid

#77

pacmankid said:

I owned all the games on the real SNES and can't wait to get this(so many memories)!

KAHN

#78

KAHN said:

@James not a fair picture. the picture of Luke on the left is Mark with MAKEUP on. the other pic has no makeup at all.

KAHN

#79

KAHN said:

@tbd
but wouldn't it be a better idea to review the entire game as a whole rather than "if it aged as well as my cheese"? i dont know about you, but i buy games to have fun, not whether or not if they aged well :/

OnionOverlord

#80

OnionOverlord said:

@0LD_SK0OL_PUNK

Agreed. This is a point I've been trying to hammer into Dragons head for a while now. Reviewing the game as a whole is certainly better than simply writing it off as "poorly aged" or something to that degree.

Fandabidozi

#81

Fandabidozi said:

It's a 10 for me! This game was the reason I sold my Mega Drive to buy a SNES. Its easily in my top 10 games ever. I'm gonna download it and SSWTESB and SSWROTJ on VC right now!

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...