This week we have not only a new retro review, but a retro review on three games! Super Star Wars is an action platformer series released back on the Super Nintendo in 1992 to 1994 and today we are looking at the entire trilogy. While each game managed to make moderate improvements to animations and balancing, I feel they are all similar enough to warrant a single review.
Live the adventure of the original Star Wars trilogy in these action-packed 16 bit games!
The Super Star Wars trilogy are action-platformers loosely based on the events of the films they are based on. Throughout the trilogy you get to play as characters like Luke, Han and Chewie. Return of the Jedi added to this roster by finally including Leia and even a random couple of levels as Wicket. Many vehicle levels are also thrown into the games allowing you to experience the Death Star attack and Battle of Hoth among others.
Levels in the Super Star Wars games are long and, let’s be honest, challenging. I don’t think I have played many games that are harder than Super Empire Strikes Back. Levels are usually beat by reaching an endpoint but they can also include an end level boss of some kind. Boss fights are pretty hit and miss; while you do fight many from the movies, like Vader or the Rancor, you also get some weird ones like the Death Star tractor beam or shield generator. Platforming and shooting feel nice but there are some issues present. The first issue is guns can’t hurt enemies that are too close to you, which becomes a source of constant irritation as many enemies like to rush you. The second and more irritating issue, is how every little hit sends your character flying from their positions, ruining certain moments of precise platforming. Vehicle levels, on the other hand, usually require defeating a certain number of enemies. Unfortunately, vehicle levels just aren’t really that fun because they are plagued by horrible collision detection which results in cheap deaths and never dying enemies.
Your standard weapon in the Super Star Wars trilogy is the blaster. Upgrades can be found in levels to enhance its power. Finding 4 of these powerups grants you the plasma blaster and it feels awesome to use it to rain destruction down on the Empire. Halfway through Super Star Wars you get the signature weapon of Star Wars which is, of course, the lightsaber. While this seems like it would be better than the normal assortment of blasters, it isn’t. While dealing minor damage and putting you closer to harm, it ends up working out better for you to just stick with the blasters for the first two games. Thankfully Super Return of the Jedi finally gives the weapon the justice it deserves!
Audio is probably one of the most defining thing in the trilogy. Each weapon has its own unique and crisp sound effect and the music is probably the best representation of the Star Wars themes ever on 16-bit consoles.
Graphics in the Super Star Wars games are mixed. On one end of the spectrum you have the beautifully detailed sprite work and level environments. Each character and enemy is exceptionally detailed and is up there with the best the SNES has to offer. On the other end, you have the vehicle levels. Utilizing the SNES’s mode 7 graphics capabilities to simulate a 3D effect makes everything look blocky, muddy and ugly.
Despite the random liberties taken with enemies and levels, the Super Star Wars games could have been standout Star Wars games. Unfortunately, between frustrating platforming and terrible vehicle levels they end up falling short. As it stands now the only people I could recommend the Super Star Wars trilogy to are platforming and Star Wars die-hards. If you are only casually curious in these games save yourself the frustration and play something else.
TL;DR: Star Wars/Platforming fans only need apply.
So, how can you play this game?! The Super Star Wars trilogy is available on the SNES and Wii as part of the Virtual Console service.
SNES – Super Star Wars – (~$10) The original release
Super Empire Strikes Back – (~$15)
Super Return of the Jedi – (~$14)
Game Boy – Super Return of the Jedi – ($5) – A Game Boy port of Super Return of the Jedi. All levels mostly in tact with reworked vehicle levels.
Game Gear – Super Return of the Jedi – (~$20) – A Game Gear port of Super Return of the Jedi. All levels mostly in tact with reworked vehicle levels.
WII – Super Star Wars – ($8) Emulated ports of the SNES games
Super Empire Strikes Back – ($8)
Super Return of the Jedi – ($8)
PS4 – Super Star Wars – ($10) An enhanced emulated port of the first Super Star Wars game with faster framerate and included graphics options.