While Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace hasn’t quite stood the test of time like many executives were hoping, it still holds a place in the hearts of fans of the series. And it also led to the creation of a number of licensed video games, with some faring better than others.
Among those titles was Star Wars Episode I: Racer, which released for the Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast and struck a chord with fans that wanted to relive the exciting race sequence from the film. It’s a well-done racing experience and continues to be fun to this very day. But what can gamers do if they don’t have classic hardware to play it on?
Well, that’s simple, thanks to Aspyr. The game is available now on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch for a reasonable price ($15 at last glance!), and packs all the racing action of the original. Only a few minor tweaks have been made in its transition to new systems, but it continues to be a timeless thrill ride for those looking for something to play in these special Star Wars days. Hey, it beats working with Jar Jar Binks in a Jiffy Lube, tell you what.
In Episode I: Racer, you’ll choose from a fine variant of alien racers as you attempt to conquer each race, using your wits and speed boosters to keep ahead of them. There’s no Mario Kart style power-ups, just the skillful need for speed. And that’s fine by us, since this isn’t really Super Bombad Racing. This is a more serious racer, and one that pays off in dividends.
The gameplay is fantastic still, with capable handling of your hovering vehicle across turns and straightaways. For good measure, the neat system where you can earn speed boosts and repair damaged engines on the fly is awesome, simple to use and master over a course of a few runs. It’s really convenient, provided you don’t crash your vehicle going over 400 MPH. Oh, yeah, you’re going Mach speed here.
The game has little going for it in terms of options, with mainly a general story mode (introducing some of the planets and the competition), as well as a two-player split-screen mode. There’s no sign of online multiplayer, sadly, but here, the racing is the thing. And with the price and the quality of the title, that’s not a bad thing.
Speaking of quality, Episode I: Racer really delivers on this front when it comes to presentation. While the visuals are about the same as before, with just the right amount of classic game grain, it does feature a nice speed boost, running at a beautiful 60 frames per second. That’s on all platforms, so no one’s going to miss out if they’re playing on a PS5 or anything. The vehicles look great, and the track design is elegant yet tricky enough to keep you coming back for more. And all this is accompanied by John Williams’ excellent music score, which still holds up after all these years.
While Star Wars Episode I: Racer has its quirks when it comes to lack of features, it more than makes up for it with classic racing fun. The presentation is the best it’s ever been; the gameplay still holds up; and the two-player races are still highly enjoyable. So if you’re down for turning racing opponents into Bantha Fodder, you shouldn’t hesitate to hit the throttle.
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