LucasArts to release games for the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console

In an exciting piece of news for me, and other Star Wars fans, LucasArts is finally releasing games for Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console for download. Today, they have released Super Star Wars, originally on the Super Nintendo. Now, I was never a huge fan of that series if only because I never owned a Super Nintendo. This deal, however, holds promise for some of the N64 games that they published. I want to talk about those more in this post, but I’ll provide a link to the press release so you can read more about the titled topic of this post: http://vc.nintendolife.com/news/2009/08/lucasarts_bringing_classic_games_to_virtual_console

I’m going to be talking about three of the games that I am played and/or owned at one point in time. Those three games are Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and Star Wars: Episode 1: Racer. I want to go into some detail, and also mention how likely I am to buy them. I’m going to go backwards for a minute-starting with talking about the newest of the three games, Racer.

Star Wars: Episode 1: Racer
Likelihood to buy: Moderate-High

I really liked this game, but I wonder if I’ve sort of grown out of it. At $10, getting a game where you can podrace sounds like something I’d like to relive. In this game, you could not only race in the locale used in the movie, but several other planets in the Star Wars universe. Some of the races extended beyond 10 minutes or so, from what I remember, and the game also sported fairly good graphics, thanks partially to Expansion Pak support. One could also customize their craft with earnings they’ve made from races, which was always fun. This game, like the other two I will mention, was also ported to the PC. I think the only advantage the PC version had was longer music samples; so it would be nice if they threw that in. The game had some minor design flaws involving the way money is distributed for races, and was almost too difficult, but overall it was a great game that I would seriously consider buying.

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Likelihood to buy: High

This was one of my favorite games for the N64-it happened to be the one of the last I owned before, for a time, I had sold my N64 and the games to move onto the Gamecube and, to my delight, the incredible sequel, Rogue Leader. While Rogue Leader is quite a bit different in level design, the core gameplay has Rogue Squadron to thank. I think all of the Rogue Squadron levels took place near the ground of some planet, while Rogue Leader differed in that area. Nonetheless, besides that one famous Star Wars PC game that I owned but never played, flying and fighting with X-Wings, A-Wings and other craft from the universe has never felt so satisfying.

The game was also one of the first to utilize the extra RAM of the Expansion Pak to increase the graphics. It still looks fairly good. Additionally, the game sported good voice acting and sound effects. Top it off with varied level design and some genuinely cool cheats, easter eggs and unlockables, and you’ve got a solid game that I can’t wait to buy as soon as they (hopefully) make available for download.

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
Likelihood to buy: Low-Moderate (with enhancements, Moderate-High)

Nintendo and other publishers have, for the most part, simply ported games to the Wii’s Virtual Console without making any adjustments. Xbox Live Arcade, with its users having the support of hard drives and the great Xbox Live, has games that include enhancements and additions. This is something that I want to see with some games for the N64. The catch is, though, that games originally from the N64 (i.e., cough, Banjo-Kazooie) do cost $15, $5 more than what Nintendo and publishers are charging. But we all know it’s going to cost the publisher money to tinker with the game. So the question becomes will Nintendo and/or publishers offer enhanced games even if they charge more for them?

That’s a question that might come up with this particular game. The only reason why I consider this game viable for enhancements is because of its 1998 PC port (the original was released in 1996). The PC port of Shadows of the Empire had some additions that I would consider hard to play without compared to the original. But let me talk a little about the game itself. It’s basically a hybrid game that combines some third-person shooting with various other types of play, including usage of some craft. It more excelled in the third-person shooting area, and included some very lengthy levels. One level, split in three parts, I think took me about a half an hour my first try, and it was really fun.

The game felt a little weak in some areas; not just the choice in game design to try to do a number of things instead of just one (which is why the first two Rogue Squadron games excel). The game had no voiceovers, fairly spotty graphics, and very short music samples. I’m sure much of this is because of cartridge space limitations, but remember that 30-minute level I talked about? Imagine hearing the same 35-second track loop over and over for that period of time. Though the music, featured from the Star Wars movies, is of course great, it did cut a lot from what we could have heard.

The shortcomings of the N64 version were well-addressed in the PC port. Not only did it add voices to wherever there was text that one would simply read, it also added full 3D cutscenes, longer music samples and better graphics. Because this stuff has already been done, I wouldn’t think it to be all too hard to just implement back into the N64 version so that it is a bit more presentable for this generation that has grown in said areas after 13 years. So, if they just port the N64 version without said changes, I don’t expect to buy it. But if they go for the gold and add some (hopefully all) of what made the PC version a more polished game, I would more highly consider a purchase; maybe even for a couple dollars more.

So that’s my spiel (sp?). Nintendo is apparently rejoicing these Star Wars releases by implementing some Star Wars themed stuff into their channels; I guess Check Mii Out and/or Everybody Votes Channels. But this is good news all-around. Let’s hope for those N64 ports, nonetheless!