TBT - The Super Star Wars Trilogy - The Force Is Strong With These
Last week, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has arrived in homes across the states, so we at Gaming with Swag want take a trip down memory lane to an era when only one trilogy was canon, Han shot first, and the Star Wars fandom was not forever splintered into factions like a galaxy at war. To recapture that former age, I’d like to remind everyone of three carts for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that kept fans glued to screens as long as the run time of any given Star Wars film (if not much, much longer). I’m referring to Super Star Wars, Super Empire Strikes Back, and Super Return of the Jedi.
Casual fans might casually remember this beloved set of games thanks to levels where you could bullseye wamprats in a land speeder, run through Hoth on a Tauntaun, or jump across Skiff’s over the Dune Sea (ie. in Act 1); but the hardcore fans will recall the horror and frustration of the Game Over screen after hours of gameplay to reach the Death Star, incomprehensible leaping required on Dagobah, and the sheer surprise of Wicket being a playable character on Endor.
Like all games, this trilogy separated the Jedi from the padawans before the latter even had a title. They were tough. While the bulk of the gameplay was either 2D hack-n-slash lightsaber waving or run-n-gun style blasting, the SNES Star Wars games also offered several vehicle-based levels where fans were able to fulfill their wildest dreams (of Star Wars, anyway). All three carts took players through familiar worlds with recognizable puzzles, beasts, troopers, and falling debris trying to ruin you every step of the way. Oh, and for that first outing, the game offered no passwords/saves to leap levels, which meant I never beat it. And despite the password feature on SROTJ, I am pretty sure I never piloted falcon Successfully out of Death Star II either.
Lucasfilm has always been known to push technology, but these games really took it to the limit at both a fan-service level and a programming level. I’ve already mentioned the glee of so much recognizable Star Wars Stuff, but the other thing that made this game so memorable (infamous?): I cannot recall any other game of the era whose screen would so often be so overloaded with sprites that the system slowed and teased a complete carbonite freeze. When I remember the Super Trilogy, I feel like I see the game in slow motion because I did…because this happened constantly, and that was even on easy mode.
And perhaps that’s yet another great irony of Star Wars. These games hit shelves in 1992 (SSW),1993 (SESB), and 1994 (SROTJ), so I would have likely played them from age 10 - 14—the peak age range right? But these games were brutally difficult at any setting. Seriously, this game would have so much happening that it threatened to make the console quit, let alone the player. (And did I mention how that first one had no password/save system?)
Of course, at that age it didn’t matter. It was Star Wars. In fact, it was a fresh new way to re-experience Star Wars in our favorite format of the day. Gone were afternoons of pretending you were Luke Skywalker or playing with an action figure of Chewbacca. No. Now you could BE Han Solo running around the Death Star like a lunatic. This was a real new hope. Same story, different medium, new experience. Who cares if it’s impossible? It’s Star Wars.
And the Force was strong with it. It was then. And is now.