Quality Control – Star Wars (NES)

Star Wars Box ArtWell, I tried to beat this game. I couldn’t. This game is very hard. That said, I made it through Tatooine, with the help of the map in Nintendo Power, and I made it through the asteroid sequence through what I guess is dumb luck. However, after arriving on the Death Star, I ran into a brick wall. Well, not literally, but figuratively. I couldn’t find where to go next. That said, I do feel that I experienced most of the pieces of the game experience, at least enough so that I feel comfortable rating the game. So, let’s get started

The Premise:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away… oh you know the whole plot already. Seriously, the game sticks fairly close to the basic plot points, though it embellishes on them to bring the game to a length that would be acceptable for a commercial release.

The Good:

The weapon selection of the game is moderately balanced. All the playable characters carry blasters, which don’t do a lot of damage, but have very good range – in that the shots go the entire length of the screen. However, they don’t deal a lot of damage in comparison to Luke’s light saber, which will kill most enemies in one hit. However, most enemies will kill you in one or two hits if you make contact with them, but blaster bolts will take a bunch of hits to kill you.

Additionally, spikes won’t kill you instantly. Usually, if there’s a platform nearby at a jumping height you can survive while losing only about one-third-to-one-fourth of your life bar. After being killed numerous times from Castlevania to Mega Man to Ninja Gaiden by lightly brushing spikes, this is a very nice touch.

The Bad:

During the asteroid sequence I didn’t get much feedback about where the asteroids are coming in, and having enemies on the over-world on Tatooine when you can’t fight back is also a pain in the neck. Some of the jumping puzzles were also a nuisance, and I’m not a fan of the falling damage – that’s a “feature” that could have been eliminated from the game entirely.

The Ugly:

From Mos Eisley on I found myself basically encountering bullet-hell segments in the game. In particular, the Bounty Hunters on Mos Eisley are incredibly cheap, as once you shoot them they’ll take off with their jet-pack while still shooting, and if they hit you once, all their bullets will home in. Also, once I got on the Death Star, I actually ran into a situation in one room where there were enough bullets being shot at me on screen that the game lagged. Now, if this were Contra, where my gun had more power to it, and I could shoot on the diagonal, this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem. But it’s not Contra, I can’t shoot on the Diagonal, nor can I shoot straight up or down, or jump high enough to take out some of the more dangerous enemies who are shooting at me. Thus, the deaths I end up experiencing can justifiably be described as “cheap”.

Yes, I am aware that this is an “old-school” NES game, and old school NES games are hard. However, as I’ve said repeatedly, they weren’t always hard in a good way. Some times they were hard because they tied one or both hands behind your back. That’s not a good way of being hard, that’s a bad way of being hard.

This game is hard, in the bad way.

The Verdict:

For now, I’m going to recommend giving Star Wars for the NES a miss. As it is there’s Super Star Wars as well, which I’ll be reviewing later, when I come to it.