Star Wars: polygons in space

After updating my old PC with Windows 98 SE (the graphic drivers were getting too messy… this should have fixed my Voodoo 3 issues) I have noticed that, despite my autoexec enhancements, my free memory is not quite the same as it used to be on the banner… I’m somewhat sad.

So I can always cheer myself up with Star Wars. Between the new EP7 trailer and Battlefront, there’s a lot of meat on the spit. It’s a good time to revisit some older stuff as well. There were so many arcade games, for example, but not all of them made it to home platforms. In particular, Arcade Trilogy never left arcades. I must admit though, for a Model 3-2.1 game, it looked unimpressive. Like something out of the far less powerful Nintendo 64 (and more specifically, Shadow of the Empire came out in 1996 and looked a good imho).

Look at the size of that thing! It almost takes the entire 32X polygon rendering power for itself!
Look at the size of that thing! It almost takes the entire 32X polygon rendering power for itself!

Another arcade game is the imaginatively-titled Star Wars Arcade, made for the Model 1 (so expect the usual flat-shaded polygons) but eventually converted for the Sega 32X. Emulators allowed me to play that version.

Y-Wings are underrated. And what happened to my Action Fleet model? I'm not sure.
Y-Wings are underrated. And what happened to my Action Fleet model? I’m not sure.

Unfortunately, the game is not that engaging. It’s a typical arcade space shooter, and presumably one that doesn’t take place in a real 3D enviroment: or if it does, they disabled craft collisions, because I never managed to hit a TIE FIghter head-on. The game is not actually bad, but it feels very repetitive (destroy 15 fighters! Now destroy 20! etc.) and also pretty hard. I got killed in ten seconds in the ubiquitous Trench Run mission.

That TIE Fighter pilot won't live much longer. Oh, explosions are also in 3D.
That TIE Fighter pilot won’t live much longer. Oh, explosions are also in 3D.

The graphics are pretty smooth in the first couple missions, when you are stuck in space. It’s actually quite amazing, and probably one of the most impressive games available on home platforms in 1994. Unfortunately, it all crumbles when you reach the Death Star, and will need to get used to far less stable framerates.

The frame counter says 60fps, but that's just the emulation. Wouldn't it be amazing if the emulator could improve game framerate?
The frame counter says 60fps, but that’s just the emulation. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the emulator could improve a game’s framerate?

The shooting itself is actually quite satisfying. I just wish the game didn’t become incredibly hard so soon. It’s typical of arcade titles, but still disappointing for a home conversion.

I underestimate the cheapness of arcade games that need to get as much money as possible from their patrons.
I underestimate the cheapness of arcade games that need to get as much money as possible from their patrons.

Nonetheless, this was probably the most impressive Star Wars game anywhere in 1994. It was also a good time to be a fan: no Special Edition, no prequel trilogy, no Jar-Jar. Not that I should complain too much, because those have given us Episode 1: Racer, which was rad. There was also Starfighter and Battle for Naboo. Weird how Lucasarts’ output quality took a nosedive after those.

It remains to be seen if Disney can salvage the spaceship and give us not just a great Episode 7 movie, but also some great games to go along with it.

A

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