In 2012, Disney acquired LucasFilms.

Then they announced, almost immediately afterwards, that they were going to move forward with the sequel trilogy: Episode VII, Episode VIII, and Episode IX. It’s still early, but what we know is promising,  J.J. Abrahams, director of Lost and the new Star Trek films, is set to helm the project.

Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford are probably going to make cameos. They even got Lawrence Kasdan, the acclaimed screenwriter for The Empire Strikes Back, to pen the new scripts. They’ve already begun filming.

It’s funny, because there was a rumbling of concern when Disney first announced its acquisition. If Disney’s handling of Marvel, however, is any indication (have you seen Winter Soldier yet?), the franchise is in safe hands. The House of Mouse has both the creativity and the corporate oversight to keep Star Wars on the right track.

George Lucas, meanwhile, is exactly where he needs to be—he’s credited as an outside creative consultant—an ‘idea man.’ Lucas has always been best as The Visionary, delegating the intricacies of writing (Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett), filming (Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand), and editing (Richard Hirsch, Marcia Lucas, and Richard Chew) to others.

It is for this reason, among others, that Star Wars video games have been so consistently solid. Lucas’ backseat involvement allows free reign—for other creative, inspired people—to put their unique twist on Lucas’ legacy, to elaborate upon a universe that is always expanding.

In 1992, Sculptured Software and LucasArts released Super Star Wars, the first in a trilogy of games-hythey would go on to release Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in 1993 and Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in 1994. Combined, the three games captured the heart and soul of the original trilogy. On this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re going to be looking back at the first game—Super Star Wars for the Super Nintendo.

Like all great movie-to-game adaptations, Super Star Wars knew when to adhere to the plot, and also when to diverge from it. The developers knew that capturing the spirit of the film, rather than the letter of the film, was more important.

In the first Stage, you played as Luke—you would eventually play as Han and Chewie as well—as you ran and gunned your way across the Tatooine desert. You familiarized yourself with the controls - you could fire your blaster in multiple directions, you could flip through the air, and you could do a quick slide across the ground to avoid projectiles.

The graphics were wonderfully detailed—it was always the little things. When you ran, Luke’s 1970’s haircut blew in the breeze. There were Bantha skeletons behind you. Behind that, there was an endless roll of sand valleys and hills, which emphasized the unforgiving isolation of Tatooine. None of these elements stood out on a first playthrough - it was an amassed, cumulative effect that made the game so immersive.

You concluded the stage with a boss fight against the Sarlacc Pit Monster. This was an example of great artistic license. In the original Return of the Jedi film (the unaltered edition), the Sarlacc Pit Monster was a gaping, toothed hole in the desert. In Super Star Wars, the Monster was reimagined as a towering, worm-like beast. The designers, however, retained enough of its iconic look to make it instantly recognizable.


Stage 2 put you into a Landspeeder—you had to kill 12 Jawas, and then head towards the Jawas’ Sand Crawler. This level showed off the developing 3-D technology at the time, and the Landspeeder thrusters gave you a genuine sense of motion and speed. The draw distance was also convincing - the Jawa vehicles started as blue specks in the distance, and they increased in size and detail as you sped closer.


During Stage 2, you began to appreciate the game’s meticulous use of sound. Many of the noises - from the blaster shots to the signature Jawa screams—were taken directly from the original film. Later in the game, there was a distinctive humming sound when you sliced through the air with your lightsaber. Whenever you got a Game Over (which was often, because this game was difficult), you heard Darth Vader’s mechanized breathing over the continue screen—another subtle, appropriate touch.



And of course, the music. Up until this time, Star Wars developers had to sacrifice John Williams’ score to a console’s technical limitations. A player had to use his or her imagination—that high pitched beep was supposed to be a trumpet, and that low frequency buzz was supposed to be a bass. Super Star Wars was one of the first times that the in-game music approximated the actual film music.

From the “Battle Theme” that was played over the Landspeeder levels to the “Cantina” music that was played in the Mos Eisley Spaceport, it elevated the gameplay to incredible, exciting heights.


The best part of the game—and the film, for that matter—was the final attack on the Death Star. In the climactic trench run, you battled against Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced x1, and you even got a countdown meter to fire your torpedoes. And when you finally hit the L and R shoulder buttons to let those torpedoes fly? Oh man—you were right in the X-Wing’s cockpit with Luke.

The Super Star Wars game trilogy was available on the Wii Virtual Console, but it has yet to be made available on the Wii U Virtual Console. That’s a shame—a new generation of gamers ought to experience this immersive, brutally difficult set of games. For those of you with 16-bit consoles, however, blow the dust out your cartridges, and give these classic games a whirl.

They’re far from easy, but remember what Yoda told Luke: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

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