Double Take: Star Wars Arcade

“You underestimate the power of the Dark Side,” Darth Vader says. You can hear his heavy breathing as he clenches his fist, the Imperial March solemnly trumpeting in the background. This is the memory that most people have after countless times and the endless frustration of trying to beat Star Wars Arcade, possibly one of the most difficult games in the 32X’s small library. But why is this the title that sticks out in people’s minds when someone mentions the Genesis 32X? Well readers, let’s divulge ourselves into the Star Wars universe as I give my take on one of my favorite 32X games (for a number of reasons I may say).

Now I must say I’m a big Star Wars buff. I’ve watched the movies, read the books, played with the action figures, played the video games, played the miniatures game (think Dungeons & Dragons, only with Star Wars and none of the storyline stuff, merely battles), I’ve even met one or two Star Wars personalities over the years. And I must say that the franchise has always had a special place in my heart. Now that I look at it, it’s been a part of my life over the years in one form or another. Whether it was anticipating the new Minis at my annual trek to Wizard World back in 2006, or running my own game server in Star Wars: Jedi Academy, I’ve always been doing something with Star Wars. So when I got my 32X I made sure that one of the first games I played was the fabled and obscure Sega arcade port, Star Wars Arcade.

Red Five Standing By

I have a great deal of respect for this game and the people who developed it, simply because had it not been for the 32X, this game would have never gotten a release on home consoles. It was a title in the same situation as Star Wars Trilogy, which most people (including me) believe to be the superior game and is more popular. That game still hasn’t gotten a port to home consoles, but surprisingly the coin-op that seemingly got a mere dozen or so units localized into the U.S. got a home release is very interesting. Had it not been for this 32X port, SWA would have been most definitely lost to the ages. The fact that the home version feels very close the arcade original was only made in a scant four months and built from scratch makes me love it even more.

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I had actually played SWA first at Disney World (or was it Disneyland?) for a brief time at one of the arcades or something like that. And although the memories of it I have are vague, the 32X game still matches up with the components of what I remember. You destroy a set amount of TIE Fighters per level in a certain amount of time. Even Admiral Ackbar’s campy voice was taken straight from the arcade.

The graphics and sounds may be a bit dated for the title, but you just have to shift yourself back to 1995, when gamers looked in awe at this title and said “Wow! That looks amazing!” It really does for the time, rivaling the graphics of Star Fox on SNES.

However, the gameplay is what I think really makes it shine as a top-notch 32X title. To be simple, it’s plain addicting Star Wars flight simulator arcade style fun. There is no movie series that makes a better flight simulator than Lucas’ groundbreaking trilogy. Every flight simulator I’ve played from them I’ve always had a blast with, whether it be the first arcade Star Wars by Atari, or Rogue Squadron III on GameCube, they all follow a very basic formula that really makes playing them great. But this game has something special that makes you keep coming back to it, and that’s a ridiculous difficulty level. Now I know this turns a lot of people off to the game, but it gives me that reminiscence of the Capcom game Ghosts n’ Goblins. Ridiculously tough, but built on such a good engine that you just keep coming back over and over again until you finally beat it, and once you do you get this wonderful feeling of accomplishment. It just gives the title such a nice replay value. And there’s a co-op two-player mode and two different modes to venture through, giving you a lot of Star Wars TIE-blasting fun to experience here.

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The Force Will Be With You…

All in all, I love Star Wars Arcade. The memories I have about this game combined with my love of the series makes me love the very existence of this game. The graphics, the sound, the gameplay, who made it, how it was made, the Star Wars license, I love every single aspect of this game. And after the Super Star Wars games on SNES, I know that Genesis definitely Does what Nintendon’t!

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