28 February 2010
Jeff was a bartender at the restaurant down the street. When I moved to Providence he and I became fast friends. It was a nice joint with good food and live jazz on the weekends. When I wasn't drinking there, writing stories for the newspaper or kicking around my new city, I was researching this new Nintendo system that was boasting true 3D graphics. I had been out of the gaming culture for a long time. I assumed that a system this impressive could produce only the best games. I didn't know - or maybe I chose to ignore - the fact that every great system plays host to tons of crappy games. I learned that lesson the hard way as I searched for a decent fighting game for the system.
Luckily one of the first games I bought was Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. When Jeff the bartender came by to check it out I was playing the Battle of Hoth section (little did I know how many more times I'd play that battle in future games).
"It looks just like the movie," he said, and I agreed.
Of course it looked nothing like the movie. But the 3D jump was so huge on the N64 - and particularly that game - that we were convinced games would never look any better.
I played that game all the way through in just a few sittings. The Hoth battle may be the best part of the game, but the third-person action/shooting and the always popular Star Wars space battle sections were excellent.
There's a lot of buyer's remorse in the gaming world. I've dropped more money on more crappy games than I care to remember. But this one was different. It was a perfect introduction to this new generation of gaming and the fun I would have with that system. The N64 is still among my favorite systems if only for the reason that – despite a plethora of bad games – the games that were great on that console were truly great.
Goldeneye, Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Wave Race 64 and Star Fox 64 … to name just a few. The passage of time may have diminished the once awe-inspiring graphics of these titles, but they're still as much fun today as the day they were released.
This excellent Star Wars title deserves to be among them.
By Victor Paul Alvarez