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Star Wars Super Bombad Racing
Review By:  Christopher Coey
Developer:   Lucas Learning
Publisher:   Lucas Learning
# of Players:   1-4 (multitap)
Genre:   Kart Racing
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   8-13-01

I will admit that I knew very little about this game when I first put the disk into my console. Having just completed Star Wars: Starfighter (earning a gold medal in every mission, I humbly add), and not yet having quenched my thirst for all things Star Wars, I decided to give this game a chance. Thinking to myself, 'well, its not another bad adventure title, and Pod Racer (on N64) was incredible. Besides, it is after all a Lucas Arts game'. The problem being, that, I didn't notice the OTHER developer logo: Lucas Learning. I always grimace a little whenever I see that sad little Lucas Learning logo, thinking I've somehow purchased a 1st grade electronic 'hooked on phonics' program. At first, however, I was pleasantly surprised.

The game itself has a cartoonish feel, which is executed very well. Turning even the devilish Darth Maul into a cute Ewok-like character. And the cartoon Jawas are adorable. As for the gameplay, there is no disguising that this is PlayStation2's answer to Mario Kart Racing. Which isn't a bad thing. Some of the best multi-player games are based on the simplest of ideas. I can't count the number of hours I've spent playing games like Bomber-Man (SNES), Face-Ball (GB), or Mario Kart with friends. And Super Bombad Racing fits right into that list. It may not be flashy, or spectacular like some of today's frag-fests, but the great games in the one thing that really matters, fun. Don't get me wrong, though, this game is far from great.

There ARE a few flaws. Although visually the game is very much a Star Wars game, most of the sound effects are original, and those sounds that are from the actual movie are lost in the background. The music is good. But the composer was working on a Saturday morning cartoon version of the original score, and in some instances he strays a little too far, making a lot of the tracks unrecognizable. Still enjoyable, just not very Star Wars.

The actual sound effects are annoying at best. And once again, very much leaning towards the Looney Tunes area (where are the Star Wars sounds?) As for the voice acting: Couldn't they find ANYONE that sounded even remotely like Ewen McGregor? Simply putting on a British accent does not make you a Jedi Knight. Either put in the effort, or don't try at all. Jake Lloyd (Anakin) and Ahmed Best (Jar Jar) actually DO supply voices for their respective characters. However, Anakin never has anything that interesting to say in the game, and NOBODY wants to listen to Jar Jar.

The graphics are second rate. I enjoyed the 'still drawings' associated with each of the tracks, and the intro 'cut-scenes' were sometimes funny (have I mentioned the cartoon Jawas?) Otherwise, the low polygon-count characters and blocky landscapes, although flashy and colorful, are uninspired. If you do look carefully, you can find a number of movie inspired touches that can be rather amusing. Unfortunately 'somewhat amusing' is the highest level this game ever reaches.

Gameplay wise: What starts out as mildly fun, quickly turns to angry frustration. Particularly the first couple of times you find yourself leading a difficult race, only to be blindly hit from out of the sky by a weapon fired by some guy at the back of the pack. THEN spending way too long recovering from the blow while all other racers pass you by (this cheap multi-player trick can also cause a few shoulder punches from your friends whom you've just knocked out of the race.) Plus, it is FAR too easy to get turned around, or lost altogether, in the middle of a race. Some of the tracks, while trying to be multi-routed, are overly confusing.

One thing that might have helped this game would have been a better reward system. In order to open the locked tracks the player must place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the previous track. But the game doesn't keep a record of what your placement in fact was. So there is no incentive to replay any of the tracks in order to better your time. Also, there is a built in Circuit Race for each of three circuits, but you don't have to complete the previous circuit to unlock the next, you simply have to unlock the tracks in that circuit by placing in the previous track. For myself, I spent many days racing tracks over and over again in Star Wars: Pod Racer, just to get gold medals on all the tracks. In Super Bombad Racing, there is little point, unless you want to record you times on a piece of paper. As for the ultimate race: Galaxy Circuit, since the circuit is bases on a point system when you place in each race, you need only actually win 5 of the nine races to clinch the gold medal. Again, not much of a challenge.

My opinion: Lucas Learning has a lot of learning to do if it wants gamers to continue to buy its products. I can foresee a day when even I, one of the most diehard Star Wars fans I know of, will pass over a game with the Lucas Learning logo if they keep giving me games like this one.

HIGHS:

  • It's a Star Wars game
  • The 'cartoon' angle is an interesting variation on what is becoming an old theme

LOWS:

  • Frustrating gameplay
  • Annoying sound effects
  • Little replay value, and no reward system

FINAL VERDICT:

All in all, if you're a hardcore fan and looking for a great Star Wars franchise game, you might want to look somewhere else. But if you particularly enjoyed the Podracer and Jar Jar Binks scenes of The Phantom Menace, or have a particular love for Cartoon Jawas, this might be the game for you. Grab some friends, and a few controllers, and have some fun (while trying to ignore the flaws).

Overall Score: 4.5

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