The Duluth/Superior region has a Facebook group dedicated to letting people sell their old junk. I like to keep tabs on this, theoretically, because people occasionally post video games or even consoles. Unfortunately, the people who tend to sell these things generally have no understanding of the difference between good and bad games. If they paid $50 for it, then damn it, everyone will claw each others eyes out to get to the $49 used Madden game that they so generously offered to take a financial hit on. Oh, how will you ever feed your starving children otherwise? Word of advice, people, no one wants your shitty sports games. Not even people who buy shitty sports games. Used game stores might charge a token 50 cents for them, but honestly if you needed to assign a realistic value to them, don’t forget to include the negative sign! Also, your 25-year-old front-loading NES won’t fetch the $300 you think it will. Look these things up on eBay before demanding people stop not-buying your shit. Anyway, these people generally mix in a few licensed games based on movies or TV shows, which brings me to this week’s topic.
My regular readers will know by now that I’d rather crawl through a tunnel of razor wire towards a cliff dropping into the Dead Sea than play a licensed game. However, in the past I’ve admitted that Star Wars games fall into the golden territory of, and I quote myself here, “Meh. Not so bad.” And with that philosophy and a masochistic spirit worthy of homosexuals, women, and racial minorities who vote republican, I picked up Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith at Savers, expecting a mediocre gameplay at best–and the game wowed me…with how much it still managed to disappoint me with bland, uninspired and glitchy gameplay, and some identity confusion as to whether or not it wanted to fulfill its duty to its father and join the run-and-gun action genre, or whether or not it wanted to hang out with its rebel friends in more of a fighting game format.
I’ve definitely played worse, though. In fact, two minutes into the game, it almost felt just like watching the movie…mostly because they had actually inserted footage from the film as a cut scene, albeit with noticeably lower quality. And since anyone with a laptop less than ten years old can easily rip DVD footage and convert it to a format the PS2 can read, I can only assume the developer–some obscure company called “LucasArts”–had trouble getting their hands on a high quality copy of the game, perhaps developing the game as a bootleg edition. Either that or something went horribly wrong in the middle of George Lucas’ attempt to digitally replace all the lightsabers with walkie talkies, resulting in an explosion that gave him abnormal powers and turned him into a galactic super villain. Also, except for a brief quip in the middle of the final battle, they cut out any mention of Natalie Portman. Assholes. I swear, if you turned her into a walkie talkie, you’ll rue the day you ever….
…sorry. I don’t usually develop crushes on celebrities, but as a nerd, I hold Star Wars near and dear to my heart, and Carrie Fisher predates my time by just a little too much. Anyway, much like I do with soft porn, the game skips over absolutely everything part of the plot without any action. It begins with the assault on General Grievous’ fleet, the duel with Count Dooku, and the Chancellor’s rescue, and then except for a short mission with Obi-Wan, I immediately found myself battling Mace Windu and bowing before the Emperor. But even though the plot seems to have taken a lightsaber to the head, even the Super Star Wars series took gratuitous license to shove violence and action into every orifice not already occupied by a lightsaber battle, light-speed space chase, or baby Ewok.
As a nameless run-and-gun, it provides a few hours of mild amusement. However, it doesn’t take long before the signs of a quick cash grab start popping up like a whack-a-womprat game. Characters glitch out occasionally, performing cirque du soleil Jedi contortions, enemies tend to get stuck off screen where you can’t kill them, and occasionally cut scenes will just forget to play, forcing you to restart the game to make any progress. Furthermore, for all their supposed strength with the Force, Anakin and Obi-Wan show as much intuition as a gay vegan publicly coming out of the closet at an NRA convention. The game’s targeting system seems to deliberately point me either at the farthest enemy from me or the one holding cattle prod while a nearby spaceship wants to make me a million pieces with the Force. I may have found it in my heart to forgive all this, but the developers also felt the urge to subject me to battle quips that might have worked better as a mild laxative, but even at the end of the game Obi-Wan feels so smugly witty about turning murdered droids into “another one for the scrap pile” that I miss the 3rd-grade joke book humor of James Bond.
The films tried to capitalize on Boba Fett’s cult following by literally cloning him a few hundred thousand times and setting up the elaborate back story of the clones as the Republic’s army, so in the context of the story it makes sense that they’d fight side-by-side with the Jedi. However, you can’t give me a lifetime full of Star Wars games that declare open season on anything wearing a white mask and then expect me not to spend half of every battle trying to slice off their heads. Sorry, but if they look like stormtroopers, my Jedi intuition will assess them as a threat, and meanwhile the inept droid will sneak up behind me and sodomize me with my lightsaber.
While switching play between Anakin and Obi-Wan may have sounded cool on paper, the developers seemed to overlook the fact that the two characters had a pretty epic throw down at the end of the film, as in, Obi-Wan threw down Anakin’s legs into a fiery pit of molten metal. To rectify this, players have the option of playing through the final duel with either character. By playing as Obi-Wan, you can unlock the regular ending of the film. Otherwise, you can play as Anakin and watch a scenario pulled off the dregs of the worst fan fiction the internet has to offer, while simultaneously unlocking a bonus mission from Episode IV that would make no sense considering the new ending. Either way, you get an extended duel demonstrating that while lightsaber parries make awesome noises and flashes in the movies, they just drag out the games, dealing no damage to anything except your free time before bed.