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Virtually Overlooked: Star Wars (Famicom)


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Star Wars games aren't always great. In fact, sometimes they're Masters of Teras Kasi. Sometimes they're Super Bombad Racing. They suffer from the same fate as any other licensed game: the developers put the universe before the gameplay, and insert whichever popular genre of game they feel like into a Star Wars framework, knowing that enough units will sell regardless of quality.

Namco's Famicom Star Wars game is the worst, and the best. It deviates from the source material not just to fit the genre (Super Bombad Racing required the existence of karts, for example, though in this case the game just shouldn't have been made), but seemingly at random. Somebody on the team may have heard of Star Wars, maybe. Even Soul Calibur IV, which actually isn't a Star Wars game at all, makes more sense as a Star Wars game than this.

This isn't the JVC Star Wars game that came out in the U.S. on the NES. For unknown reasons (possibly including common sense), the Namco Famicom game was never released outside of Japan. What we got was a lot more faithful.

Star Wars (the Famicom game) tells the familiar story of Luke Skywalker, who goes from planet to planet in the Millennium Falcon, fighting Jawas, Tusken Raiders, and Stormtroopers in order to rescue his friends Obi-Wan Kenobi, Chewbacca, and Han Solo. Never mind that at the point the game starts, Luke shouldn't have a lightsaber or an X-Wing, and he also shouldn't know Chewie or Han -- both of whom should be hanging out on Tatooine.

Between Luke and his goal is, more often than not, Darth Vader. But not the normal air-choking, hand-slicing Darth we came to know and root for (it's an easy choice between magical, seven-foot-tall robo-badass and Luke) -- Darth Vader has a habit of transforming into animals. Obi-Wan was wrong: Darth Vader isn't "only a master of evil" -- he's also a master of turning into a giant scorpion that kind of looks like his own helmet (crossed with Winston the cat).

To battle these Vader ... things, Luke has an assortment of Force powers (which he shouldn't yet, especially given that in the game Obi-Wan is trapped on the very Egyptian planet Kessel). He can float, stop time, and do other stuff that isn't just hearing Obi-Wan and making guys think that these aren't the droids they're looking for.

Sure, a really terrible Japan-exclusive licensed game would seem like an unlikely choice for the Virtual Console, but Takara Tomy put Transformers: Convoy no Nazo up. After that, quality seems like a poor predictor of Virtual Console eligibility.

[Images via Duck-Logic/VGMuseum; inspired by Wired's "Tainted Tie-Ins"]

In this article: action, famicom, namco, nes, star-wars
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