15 March 2010

Star Wars Arcade - Sega 32X

Everything is better in the first person. How could it not be? You're the person, after all, so why not come first? Writing in the first person comes easier, talking in the first person is a given (unless you're Bob Dole) and gaming in the first person is my personal favorite.
I doubt this was what George Lucas had in mind when he decided to have Luke Skywalker destroy the Death Star in the now famous sequence in Episode IV. Not only did that sequence spawn dozens of Star Wars video games in which you do exactly that, but hundreds more just like it that replicate the sequence in some way or another. It's old hat now, but as a pre-teen climbing into the Star Wars arcade cabinet it was as if someone had built an X-Wing just for me. The vector-based graphics were more than sufficient to up the realism and the first-person perspective was convincing enough to allow me to ignore the half-dozen little bastards lined up behind me waiting for their chance.
Many of the classic arcade racing and flying games adopted the cabinet approach, hoping to up the realism. I never bought it in games like Outrun – just because I'm moving doesn't mean I'm moved.
But Star Wars Arcade nailed it.
Much to my surprise, so did the Sega 32X version of the game. The much-maligned 32X had some quality titles during its short run, and this was one of the best. You'll have dog fights with Tie Fighters, war against Star Destroyers and, of course, deal with the Death Star yet again. The sound is excellent, especially the telltale scream of Tie Fighters zipping by you – and the explosions are first class. Few titles show off the power of the 32X as well as this, and there's even a decent co-op component.
My favorite feature? The cantina music plays while you're putting in your initials for the high score. Nice touch.
There are a ton of fine space shooters released since – many of them based on the Star Wars universe – but this 32X gem is the only one that reminds me of the lure of the video arcade in the early 80s and the feeling, for the first time, of seeing a game through my own eyes.
By Victor Paul Alvarez