Dateline : 15th November 2011


Using the force, RetroBear loads up Shadows Of The Empire. An original Star Wars adventure that had such myth and hype built up before it was released that it could never live up to it. Whilst not sucking on a Phantom Menace scale, this is not LucasArts finest gaming moment….


Now this is what we wanted - arguably the best section of this game

I talked on Day 2 about the joy of playing a game with your favourite super heroes. One thing we all want to see is accuracy when games are made from such a well loved source. The same applies to film licences too. After all you want a game to replicate the film as closely as possible. For years Star Wars fans had reason to feel hard done by in the gaming world. There were the original vector graphic arcade games of the first two films, which were great but not exactly ground breaking. The less said about the effort for Return of The Jedi the better, which was simply a collection of dull sequences thrown together.


When Nintendo announced that one of the big games it was planning for the N64 was a Star Wars game there was massive interest. Until that point most games based on the Star Wars universe were locked and rooted firmly in the PC market, although there was a brief series of games on the SNES. This game was to be a ground breaker, loyal to the original trilogy, and to capture all the elements that made the films so great.


The game gets bogged down with too many FPS sequences which are too similar in structure


It’s almost as if the hype was too much to bear, for when Shadows Of The Empire was released there was great indifference towards it. You wouldn’t have known from the games first sequence – a replication of the At-At attack from The Empire Strikes Back having you in a snowspeeder shooting enemy drones whilst tripping At-Ats up with your cable – of the horrors that lurked further on.


The game is set somewhere between Empire and Jedi and what follows can only be described as linear. The graphics, whilst functional, weren’t all that impressive and are blown away by the orchestral sounds lifted straight from the films. It is the gameplay which causes the most concern as the game itself is incredibly easy. There appears to be too much emphasis on not offending Star Wars fans and less on actually putting together a good game which is what everyone wanted. The fact that the controls are awful does not help, causing more problems for the player than needed.


Maybe you will Mr Solo, maybe you will.....


Comparing these to the three “Super” games that appeared on the SNES is like comparing ice cream to horse manure. There is no doubt at all that the SNES games are hair pullingly difficult and would cause many an average gamer to throw joypads and consoles through the window. However, they do reek of Star Wars and although not entirely accurate in line with the films are much better to persevere with.


Shadows Of The Empire is an average game at best, a disappointing one at worst. It was an opportunity missed by Nintendo, who then went on to collaborate on a cracking racing game based on the Phantom Menace pod race section and Rogue Squadron which was an excellent aerial combat game. They learnt their lessons from the failure of Shadows but, after promising so much to all, what was left behind was such a let down.


VERDICT : A forgettable gaming experience, destroyed by too much hype before release, crappy controls, easy gameplay, badly executed FPS sections and thus never quite living up to the experience that this was to be the second coming of Luke Skywalker.


NOTES : Copies available from £4.00 on Amazon. Ebay is your best bet as loose copies of the game start at 99p !


UP NEXT : Polish your balls and rub some linseed oil into your mighty willow – Brian Lara Cricket on the PS1