Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom MenaceMemories: As various heroic characters from the days when Jedi Knights still enforced justice in that galaxy far, far away, you must expose the danger posed to peaceful Naboo by the Trade Federation’s army of battle and destroyer droids, and escort Order this gameQueen Amidala out of the clutches of the invaders who would force her to surrender her world into slavery. (LucasArts, 1999)

Memories: Oh, what a frustrating game! The Playstation is a recent acquisition for me, and I like the wealth of Retro Revivals and emulations available for Sony’s nifty little game console. But this game and the Xena game just about drove me nuts…yet this is the style of game that most everyone seems to be trying to create these days.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom MenaceThe idea of an almost Dragon’s Lair-style stroll through Episode I has its appeal, going through the various scenes of the movie to see if you’re up to the task of helping Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon navigate the perils of the Star Wars universe successfully. But The Phantom Menace – the game, that is, not the movie – loses a lot in the translation to a game. I think my favorite part of the game is its intro, which is actually a digitized version of the movie’s first few minutes.

Where I get so frustrated with The Phantom Menace is literally a matter of perspective. The game is played out from a strange kind of Steadicam-hovering-somewhere-overhead perspective, and the movement can become quite distracting, almost dizzying at times, a problem shared with the Xena game.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom MenaceDespite the chunkiness of the graphics, the number of moves you’re able to pull off is pretty impressive, and it does look cool if the “camera” will sit still long enough for you to enjoy the show. Somewhat less enjoyable are some of the game’s voice-overs. After Qui-Gon has told me to “find the controls to open that door!” for the eighth time, despite the fact that I’m hauling ass to the nearest control panel and fending off destroyer droids while he stands there motionless, it gets a little old.

So, do I recommend The Phantom Menace to avid Star Wars fans? Well…maybe. It depends on if 2 quartersyou’re patient and can grok the swooping camera angles of these modern day games. If you can’t handle these minor details, maybe Racer would be more to your liking – at least that game lets you choose whether you’re racing from a first-person or a slightly-above-and-behind viewpoint.