As one of the very first video games I ever played, there was an inevitable pang of nostalgia when launching Super Star Wars on PlayStation 4. Before Sony, Disney, or whoever came up with the idea to emulate this Super Nintendo favourite, the last time I’d played it was almost two decades ago, marking one of my earliest encounters with a games console. Obviously, this was a very different time in my life where entertainment technology was only starting to find a foothold in the family home.
Having been brought up on a trio of Star Wars VHS tapes, naturally I was drawn towards LucasArts’ 16-bit adaptation of the original movie. Looking back at the early nineties, the majority of games were fairly brutal back then with many of the things we now take for granted simply absent. Instead, gamers would have to rely on a plethora of tricks and workarounds to sidestep the lack of checkpoints, save systems, and the many other helping hands we barely notice nowadays.
Video Credit: Scottv007
For me, being three or four at the time, the only way I could make any kind of progress in Super Star Wars was to input one of several cheat codes. Even then, when scrawled on the inside of the chunky instruction manual, I vividly remember calling for my uncle to assist me in unlocking the bonus stages and characters. I simply didn’t have the same precision or dexterity that I do now in my seminal gaming years.
Coming back to Super Star Wars after all that time has been a fun albeit short-lived experience. Aside from it being little more than a couple of hours long – if that – the outdated mechanics mean that I probably won’t commit to more than my one playthrough, despite the game having aged considerably well.
For those who completely missed Super Star Wars, or are simply too young to remember, the game takes players from the sand dunes of Tatooine to the fierce space battle surrounding the Death Star. In other words, it directly follows the events of A New Hope, taking creative liberties where it can in order to add more meat to the bone.
It’s predominantly a run and gun platformer through and through yet has a few quirks that place it above your run-of-the-mill Contra clone. Alongside its tidy selection of blasters and eight-point directional aiming, the action is broken up by Mode 7 powered piloting of X-Wings and land speeders.
Still, the way levels are structured reflect that arcade style of platformer many will have become acquainted with over the years. Enemies will continue to spawn as you fire off blaster rounds, forever moving from left to right as your points start to tally up. Bosses will crop up from time to time as well, their rhythmic attack patterns often demanding a change in tactics.
Some of these bosses, however, as well as a number of fiddly platforming sections, are pretty hard to overcome. Thankfully, this latest version of Super Star Wars allows players to save their progress, allowing you to travel back to an exact moment in time. Without this nifty feature, I probably wouldn’t have made it past level three, let alone beat the game with lives to spare.
Unlike Star Wars Bounty Hunter, Racer Revenge, and Jedi Starfighter, Super Star Wars hasn’t undergone quite the same emulation treatment on PlayStation 4. Instead, it’s a utilitarian transplant of the SNES version, sporting the same 16-bit graphics as it did in 1991. That’s hardly a dealbreaker, however, considering the brilliant art direction of the original, successfully capturing each iconic character and setting from A New Hope. The music is also on point as well, emitting from HD-enabled televisions in all its chiptune John Williams glory.
Given the price point and its considerable age, Super Star Wars definitely isn’t for everyone. Finicky controls, unfair boss fights, and a somewhat outdated feel makes this one mainly for the fans seeking a force-infused slice of nostalgia. That’s not to say younger, less familiar gamers won’t have fun with it, though they should temper their expectations accordingly.