Thursday, December 17, 2015

Super Empire Strikes Back (Super NES, 1993)

This game is even better than the first. Much like the movie.

Remastered post, now with Nintendo Power scans and added awesomeness.


We begin with the Empire... striking back. How zany would it be if the Phantom Zone spun by in the background with General Zod in it?

Luke -starts- with the lightsaber. Liking this more than the first game already. I'm also a fan of ice levels, and roughly a third of this game takes place on Hoth.

Our hero RIDES THE TAUNTAUN as he swings at snow-bats. THIS... is Empire Strikes Back intensity!

Ice caves follow. I'm also a huge fan of ice caves. Donkey Kong Country has the best ice cave ever recorded, but this one isn't too shabby.

These caves are home to Yeti with ice-breath that freezes you. Sometimes bats also join in and peck at you while you're frozen. Worst part is, when you're stunned in this game, enemies can knock you all over the place... probably right into a pit.

The first major boss is MASSIVE. No idea what the hell this thing is supposed to be. The one thing the original game did better than this one? Boss life meters also had their name. Lots of jumping somersault slashes are the way to go here.

After a VERY DIFFICULT first boss, Luke emerges into the frozen wastelands. This game is taking his journey to the snowbase and totally extending it, much like The Hobbit being turned into a trilogy of movies. Peter Jackson uses all parts of the Tolkien, much like the Native Americans.

Another, even awesomer ice cave. ...except for all the time you spend getting knocked into pits. These platforms aren't exactly reliable footing.

A bunch of miniboss probe droids attack outside. They're no match for jumping lightsaber attacks.

The big boss is a probe droid on steroids. It's another way-too-difficult early boss fight, but thanks to spin-jump attacks, I eke out a win. Luke's most effective move continues to be the Screw Attack (or Crono's Cyclone, if you will). Problem is that he can still be damaged while spin-jumping.

 Quick back-in-time detour: Here's the NES version of Empire Strikes Back. It's significantly less super.

Time for the much-applauded snowspeeder stage, usually a hit in every game it appears in.

But first... autoscrolling bike-shooter level! There's so much variety in this game that it's a constant blast to play. If you haven't played it... go play it right now. I'll wait.

The snowspeeder stage begins by putting you against a bunch of easily-dispatched probe droids. Get past that part, and you're in an open arena with AT-ST and AT-AT Walkers. Have to take out a certain amount of them to succeed.

There's an AT-AT. After all this time, these things are still intimidating beasts...even when they're showin' you their butt.

 Another quick trip back in time: Empire Strikes Back for the Atari 2600! We have come a long way.

After that we get a significantly less cool side-scrolling stage where you fly up and down and completely mow your way through a bunch of enemies.

Luke hops out of his snowspeeder to climb an AT-AT leg. Stormtroopers with jetpacks accost him at every turn.

The boss here is an AT-AT head. Victory is a matter of blocking so that you reflect all of its shots back at it.

Han Solo: One Strapping Lad.

Ladies love to wear Han.

He's the next character you play as. To balance things out a bit from the previous game, Han is now the first character with a blaster (Luke only has a lightsaber) AND Han has a limited supply of smart-bombs. Regardless, Luke is still the best character in this one.

Not sure what these armored mechs are, but they're bad-ass.

The player must face a chain of boss fights as Han escapes from the rebel base. This attack copter is super-irritating, with its spinning death-chains.

Next up, a RAD fight with an AT-ST on foot. These graphics are sweet.

The final level of the extended, massive Hoth section of the game is a rail shooter where you take out asteroids from the gun-deck of the Millennium Falcon. Nice.

When I said Hoth was a third of the game, I was wrong. It's more like half, as it turns out. This game transpires primarily on three worlds: Hoth, Dagobah, and Bespin. So there are two left, but neither approaches the length of Hoth. They went all-out with the amount of Hoth levels.

Next up? Dagobah. This is the shortest of the worlds, clocking in at a mere three levels and one boss.

Hey kids, do you like mushrooms?

This makes me think of the underrated classic Metroid Prime 2. It too has three "worlds". The second is a swampy bog, while the third is a flying city. Just like this game. The first is a dry, acrid wasteland rather than a snowy wasteland, though.

Here's Yoda, the Rupert Giles of Star Wars. He's totally naked under that robe.

These levels are so confusing. I don't know if it's more because of the backgrounds or the layouts, but neither one is particularly easy to deal with. At this point you get Force powers, and retain them for the rest of the game. They make Luke even more OP.

The boss here is...a massive swamp monster. Imagine if the movies had all of these bosses. It'd be a longer series than Lord of the Rings.

Here's the massive selection of Force Powers. They're basically spells, and you more or less have an MP meter now. The best power is, naturally, Heal. You can manage a few shots of it, which effectively quadruples how much health you have.

Force powers are a huge part of why this game is better than its predecessor. Here are the rest of them:

Deflect - Causes enemy shots to not affect you. Not useful, since you have...

Invisible - Causes all enemy attacks to not affect you, effectively making you invincible. Super-useful against the final bosses.

Elevation - Lets you fly around. This one is pretty damn great, since you can soar over gaps and collect out-of-reach powerups.

Mind Control - Lets you take control of an enemy. Fairly useless considering you can beat almost any enemy in two hits or so.

Saber Control - Cool but not very useful. Lets you throw your lightsaber and control where it moves around the screen.

Slow - Slows down all foes onscreen. Not very useful since there are a lot of enemies who aren't affected by it. Also, it isn't as good as...

Freeze - Freezes everything onscreen for a couple of moments.

Aside from some obvious redundancy in these powers, and the fact that Heal trumps most of them (aside from perhaps Invisibility), they're a sweet lineup.

Our heroes arrive in Bespin.

"This isn't the first docking bay that ole' Han has eased into!"

Han may be a scoundrel, but he's also your character for this section. Kinda unfortunate that right after Luke gets all of his Jedi powers you can't play as him for a while.

Lots of weird bounty hunters attack in Bespin. These are probably the toughest stages in the game.

Boss fight! ...not sure what the hell this thing is supposed to be. A bounty hunter ship?

IT'S A TRAP.

Now we finally get to play as Chewbacca, as he does battle with...

...hordes of vicious, rabid gnomes.

The boss here is a gnome in a Dr. Wily ship. Chewie attacks with a blaster, just like Han, and it can be upgraded. While Chewbacca is slower and harder to use, he still has a ton of health. His special attack is a Mike Haggar spinning clothesline, effective against ground-based foes. ...weird.

 SPIN, MIKE HAGGAR! SPIN!

Next, Han Solo battles... the carbon-freezing machine? My God, they really DID go all-out in their search for bosses! Even this thing must be slain!

NO! YOU BARBARIANS!

Chewie does a Captain Morgan pose while jumping.

Next boss? Boba Fett, one of the most iconic characters in the saga. It's amazing that Capcom didn't get sued for copyright infringement for completely copying this guy with Vile.

On that note, when it comes to having ideas stolen and used for people/places/things in videogames, the Star Wars series might be the only one that has the Alien series beat.

...which makes it kinda funny that Chewie copies Mike Haggar's move.

Chewie dishes out the Haggar Clothesline to pummel Fett into submission while MC Chris' "Fett's Vette" plays.

Next up: Fett's clothes-iron ship, the aformentioned 'Vette. These fights are quite difficult, and Chewie's low mobility doesn't help.

Meanwhile, Luke takes off for Dagobah. Will he get there in time to save everyone? He's like Gokou.

Next up is an X-Wing level where you battle imperial goons in the skies near Bespin. This is another sweet level.

You can even spin and fly upside down.

The goal here is to take out a certain number of enemies. After that, Bespin appears on the horizon. This game really does "get it right" and I wonder why so many Star Wars themed games since then haven't been able to get it right.

Our hero finds himself face-to-helmet with Darth Vader almost immediately after arriving.

IT'S TIME! IT'S TIME! IT'S...VADER TIME!

For some reason, Vader doesn't have a life meter. This fight doesn't go on for very long before Vader knocks Luke through a window.

What follows is a fairly lengthy stage in Bespin's massive vertical chute. This stage is especially difficult because you're in constant danger of being knocked into a pit.

Reach the end, and here's Vader again... now with a life meter, meaning the fight is actually winnable.

Not easily, though. Vader throws a lot of objects at you, and it's difficult to get around his massive frame in this 2D environment so you can get cornered.

Invincibility is a huge help here, as Vader's attacks do so much damage that even Heal has a tough time counteracting it.

After a pitched battle that involves tons of invincibility-spamming, I eke out a win. Though Vader still emerges victorious in the end via cutscene, as in the movie.

And here's our cliffhanger ending. GOOD game, with a real final boss this time. They also make sure to let us know that there's a third one on the way. The NES version of this series never got to Return of the Jedi.

Brave mode? Once again, no thanks. That was difficult enough already.

 This game was on the cover of the first Nintendo Power I ever got after I subscribed to it (Issue 53... I missed the Mario All-Stars issue by one month!). Their coverage of the game is what really got me into Star Wars to begin with. I liked it before that, but it hadn't entirely captured my imagination. Nintendo Power had a way of making everything seem awesomer.

Side note: It sorta looks like Luke is peeing in the background. With no hands. Well, that's one way to use Force powers...

Since I took a look at the Nintendo Power coverage of Super Star Wars, let's continue that trend and take a look at what we've got here:


The main picture here is very Empire-themed, which is fitting. They're down, but not out. Got lots of appealing items to collect in this game.

I like "Jedi Gymnastics". The terrain of Hoth is treacherous, as these maps clearly illustrate.

Considering that the game doesn't give names to the bosses, Nintendo Power plays an important role in that regard. It also shows off how each stage has a very distinctive style. Great picture of the AT-ATs, too.

Dagobah is the shortest planet, taking up only a small amount of space in the overall coverage. For each stage, NP explains what's happening in the story (so the game doesn't have to).

The NP coverage of the final stages has some great action shots of Luke and Vader engaging in combat. As for the shot of them looking at a galaxy... is that their galaxy? How did they get so far outside of it? Is it the next galaxy over? I'll need to talk to Neil Degrasse-Tyson about the feasibility of that image.

2 comments:

  1. Force pee? LOL

    IT'S VADER TIME

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  2. I very much like the comparisons with past games. They add depth to the post and also highlight how good this is. The color schemes are just choice.

    There's so much happening here. It's hard to take it all in in one read. The mixture of different styles of games is quite commendable--more should do that. I think a big reason this one did is it had established itself as a STAR WARS game and not an RPG or platformer or something, so it wasn't beholden to one category.

    Awesome they have the title screen with Luke looking at you through the snow like that. A kind of proto-FF6!

    Listening to Lufia music as I respond to this. Man, riding a Tauntaun and swinging the saber is just what we wanted from this game! This is how you do it.

    I love that they made all the Force powers canon despite the redundancy. And..such a cool idea for a video game; we all wanted to do that stuff.

    The flight in sunset is soooo beautiful I can't believe it. They didn't forget what made us fall in love with Bespin.

    A game version of Chewie's chase for the droids! YES!

    Finally, I'm so happy that despite Luke's power they still made Vader a powerful last boss. He simply had to be.

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