You know how bad the Star Wars I-III trilogy was yes. How The hype for Star Wars Episode 1 was quickly replaced by a disdain for the series? Well you also know that one redeeming feature of the film was Jar Jar Binks. Everyone loved him and he single hand-idly saved the franchise.
I joke of-course, it was the bits with the pod racing that stood out and whilst most of the games from the film also sucked, it was down to games featuring just that to redeem any credibility. Star Wars Episode 1: Racer was a joy to play on the N64 upon first release.
This review had already been partly written, but I had to tear it up and start again. Initially I was going to go all in on the game and call it out for being a reminder as to why sometimes things are better left in the past and to you memories, but then something happened that changed all that.
Look, Star Wars Episode 1: Racer hasn’t aged all that will and has been surpassed in almost every single way. No amount of upressed graphics will change that fact. Environments are still super bland and devoid of any character. There is a ton of pop up as you go round the course, as a stark reminder of how thing used to be and it just looks so damn rough.
I played for a while and just felt like I’d rather be playing a full remake based on the engine with a whole host of QoL updates. It wasn’t even that difficult, I breezed through much of the game and barely broke a sweat.
But and here is the thing. I started writing the review and wanted to jump back in to check something. So whilst loading it up, it made sense to give the game another blast, after all, I had a little bit of time to kill. What happened next I cannot explain.
I lost a good 4 hours of my night. There is only one of two possibilities. Either Star Wars Episode 1: Racer is a bloody good game, once you get over the rough looks, or I was abducted by aliens and experimented on for 4 hours.
So here is the story of my abduction!
Seriously though, I went back with the intention of having a couple more races and was suckered in. There is something so satisfying about piloting (not driving as I had in my initial draft) a pod racer around even the blandest of environment. So much so, that the Anakin Skywalker of this timeline, doesn’t ever leave and become Darth Vader and instead carves out a career as a pod racer.
The tournaments do get more difficult over time but never offer a huge challenge, which is a shame, although you can bump things up in free play which makes everything more competitive. I spent most of my time in this mode and a bit of two-player.
I still think I would rather see a remake, but this is good enough to provide entertainment for a while and I cannot say I didn’t enjoy myself, despite everything going against a game that hasn’t aged particularly well in 21 years.