Review by Pyro Vesten
Reviewed: 08/04/01 | Updated: 08/04/01
A rare sight indeed. A movie-based game that is actually good!
Star Wars, Episode One was a great movie. Most Starwars fans will agree that it was not as amazing as the first three Starwars movies to be released, but it still did extremely well at the box office. After the movie was out, along came the hundreds of different bits of merchandise. From the usual mugs, hats, shirts, keyrings, action figures to some more unusual items. One of the most memorable scenes in the movie was the Pod Racing scene. It was extremely fast, intense and action packed. Lucas arts had announced before the movies release that they would be making a game based on Episode one racer for the PC, Playstation and N64. The playstation version was scrapped though, as lucasarts said “the playstation simply doesn’t have enough power to do the game justice”. Later down the track a Dreamcast version of the game saw the light of day.
Was Star Wars: Episode One Racer to be your average move to game mediocre attempt at taking advantage of the huge Video Games market, and trying to make a few bucks, or was it going to actually deliver a fun and very enjoyable game that let people take one of the best parts of Star Wars: Episode One the movie back to their homes? Time to Find out.
This game is fast. Really fast. It gives you a real sense of speed throughout the game.
Pod Racing is a very big sport you see. People from all over the Star Wars galaxy compete in competitions that are also held all over the galaxy. Each racer has their own Pod Racer, which is basically two massive, beefy engines, that a capsule is attached to with wires, which trails behind the two mighty engines. Pod Racers come in all shapes and sizes, as do the people who race them. The Pods have a number of upgradable statistics, such as Traction, Top Speed, Repair, Acceleration, Turning and Cooling.
You earn cash for each race that you win. But there are three winning setting you can have, On gives the least money for first out of the choices, and the most for fourth place…. Ok, I don’t think you’re following me. The setting go like this:
(_) FAIR (_)
1st Place - $1600
2nd Place - $1400
3rd Place - $1200
4th Place - $200
(_) SKILLED (_)
1st Place - $2400
2nd Place - $1200
3rd Place - $600
4th Place $200
(_) WINNER TAKES ALL (_)
1st Place - $4400
2nd Place - $0
3rd Place - $0
4th Place - $0
If you’re good, or have practiced a track a lot, and know you will win, the smartest idea is to set the winning mode to “Winner takes all”. If you come 4th in a race, you get the prize for fourth, and the rest of the prize money is given to the other racers. So you can only place in the top four once, and then the prize money is given out. You could go through the entire game coming 4th on “Winner takes all” and end up never getting a single dollar. So you have to play your cards right if you want to be able to get money to upgrade your craft along the way.
There are 25 tracks, spread over 4 tournaments. Amateur (7 tracks), Semi-Pro (7 Tracks), Galactic (7 Tracks) and finally Invitational (4 Tracks).
The races take place in a huge variety of places. From the desert like Tatooine, to the Mon Gazza Speedway, to Snowy levels, Swamp races, Underwater tunnel races, and even races on tracks suspended above the planet they are hosted on.
On each of the tracks there are man places where the track splits off and you can take two or more different paths. There is plenty of varied scenery you’ll come across on the way as well.
The races are extremely fast, but will take from around the low one minute mark, up to almost 5 minutes for you to complete the required three laps.
Overall Star Wars: Episode One Racer retains all of the speed and excitement of the Pod Racing scene from Star Wars: Episode One the movie, as well as adding loads of new tracks, racers and stats. It’s usually rare too see a game based on a movie (or part of a movie) turn out to be little more than average, usually they turn out to be an extremely rushed, and poor game. Star Wars: Episode One Racer is a well welcomed exception. Lovely stuff.
Star Wars: Episode One Racer looks pretty good. It came out not too long after the N64 Expansion pak, and does make use of it for slightly enhanced graphics, but it doesn’t make too much of a difference (but what can you expect, lucasarts didn’t exactly have much time to fully utilise it did they?).
The framerate is very high, which is necessary, because the game moves sooooo damn fast it would be hard to play with a lower framerate.
There is minor fog to be found in the game, but this isn’t an issue. The textures are pretty decent, as are the Pods and tracks. The graphics won’t have you waking up in a pool of strange liquids, that’s certain, but they are good, which does the job for me.
From the delicious Dual of Fates menu music (though it is kinda cut-down) to the fully orchestral in game racing music Episode One Racer sound like Starwars through and through. The sound effects are good enough, with lots of noises, from environmental effects to the Pod Racer engine noises to the sound of your Pod exploding, or having an engine overheat.
The music is where the game does best. The music is well suited to the areas in which it is applied. Because of the fast speed of the game, the music in a lot of places also seems to be “fast”. All of the music is orchestral and sound really good. Most of it is nothing that you’ll be humming when you’re not playing, but there are a couple of memorable tunes in the game.
While the single player aspect of the game is it’s strong point the multiplayer just makes the game a tiny bit stronger, and more appealing in the long-term. You can only play with two player, and this bring in the fog, pretty close infront of you. The mutiplayer is fun, but hasn’t got a thing on some of the great N64 mutliplayer titles, such as Goldeneye, Mario Tennis, Perfect Dark and Super Smash Bros.
It’s better that they inculded a multiplayer mode than didn’t. And it turns out to be good fun for a few hours every once in a while.
You’ll be playing this, most likely for at least a month before you complete the single player. After that, you *may* want to play it through with another of the 20+ racers, but more than likely you’ll be left with the Time Trail mode, and Multiplayer. The Time Trail mode may keep you goig for a little while, but most probably you’ll get sick of that pretty soon. But every once in a while you’ll pull out Episode One Racer when a friend is over for a quick bash.
This is somewhere in the middle of the scale. It’s certainly not impossible to beat, but you’re not gonna knock it over in a day either.
(_) What??? A movie based game that isn’t horrendous? What’s going on………?
(_) FAST! FAST! FAST! This game is fast!
(_) It’s StarWars
(_) Good orchestral score
(_) My first copy of this cost $20 Australia ($10us roughly)……. I found it not too long ao for $1.50 AU, yes, $1.50! That’s about $0.75Us (at the time of writing this).
(_) The game could have been a tiny bit better with just a month or two more of development
Buy. I suppose not everyone will love it. But for the most part, it’s a worthy game to buy (and extremely cheap too). You really can’t go wrong if you can pick it up as cheap as I’ve been able too.
If you’re unsure, rent if first and see how you like it.
Star Wars: Episode One Racer is a good game. It’s far better than most Movie-based games, and is a very good purchase for starwars fans, and high-speed racing fans alike. I’ve put in quite a few hours on the game, and it was well worth my $20Australi ($10Us)……
Overall 8.9/10 (Rounded to 9/10 for GameFAQs)
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