STAR WARS Episode 1: Racer is an amazing movie tie-in for the STAR WARS universe, and it is hailed as one of the best games on the Nintendo 64, which is really saying something for a system that still holds records for some of the highest rated games of all time.
It is interesting to see STAR WARS Episode 1: Racer ported to the Switch, though. It does not seem like they did anything new aside from “HD Remastering” it, but at the same time, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? How does this game hold up 20+ years later on our favorite hybrid console? Well, let’s find out.
One of the advantages that STAR WARS Episode 1: Racer has is that it ties with the pod-racing that actually happened in the fourth major film. Sure, it may have been a simple part of the movie that entertained with its high speeds and various new characters, but it makes for a great racing game idea.
Since it is a racing game, there is not much of a story to it, outside of the obvious movie tie-ins and characters. Despite, it is a fun universe that lends itself to this fun, high stakes racing.
If you never played the original, then let me introduce you to the STAR WARS version of F-Zero and Extreme G. Racer is a high-speed racer that depends heavily on your driving and nothing else. There are no weapons, no items, and no powerups. It is just you, the other racers, and the long stretch of track.
Considering the original came out in 1999, I was pleasantly surprised how well it still held up. The controls on the Switch version are great, and each race was adrenaline-pumping fun.
Right out of the gate, you are presented with four options on the main menu, and they are TOURNAMENT, FREE PLAY, TIME ATTACK, and 2 PLAYER. Each mode is a lot of fun, but I found myself spending most of my time in tournament while playing alone and 2 player when I was with my son.
TOURNAMENT is a great way to burn some time through a series of seven races against the AI, and for the most part, it is great racing. My only complaint here and in FREE PLAY is that your computerized opponents can be rather dumb and slow which makes for some easy wins if you are an expert of this particular racing game.
2 PLAYER is loads of fun with someone locally in splitscreen, and I found this to be the better overall experience. Although this was simply the way the game was presented originally, it would have been awesome to see a 4-player splitscreen option introduced in this new HD remastered version.
There are six characters to choose from, all within the podracing scene, and each of them provide different playstyles due to their unique vehicle statistics. A couple of the racers definitely seem to have advantage over others, but I assume that it to lend towards players needing more of a challenge if they find the game to be too easy (Like myself).
There are three different circuits with seven tracks each, which puts the game at 21 tracks. Considering most of the tracks are really long, there is a lot of gameplay here for fans of racing, and since is in the STAR WARS universe, all of the tracks will be a lot of fun to blast through for fans of the series.
All right. Let’s be honest. This is just perfect. Anything with John Williams is already going to be amazing, so when you have a series as renowned as STAR WARS, you know you are going to get some brilliant music, and STAR WARS Episode 1: Racer is no different. Each orchestral track is a banger and a reminder of just how powerful is the music from STAR WARS.
Not only that, but the other audio assets from the movies, like alien sounds and pod racers, also cater to the authenticity and make for a grander experience. Over 20 years later, and this game still sounds fantastic (Again, thanks largely to the brand.).
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
Although the game performs smoothly, the visuals did not age very well, even with the “HD Remastering”. This basically serves as a reminder of how ugly 3D graphics were during the initial stage. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that this is a horrible-looking game, but I am saying that it is hard not to notice how much graphics have progressed since 1999.
For me, it was nostalgic and fun, but after the glasses came off, I started noticing more and more blemishes during my numerous races.
I will say that the price of the game should absolutely be cheaper. I know it is a STAR WARS licensed game, but this is something that was birthed in 1999. Here we are in 2020, and I am expected to cough up a decent amount of money for basically a nostalgia trip. It is not like this port added anything of significance, like online racing, online leaderboards for TIME ATTACK, or 4 player splitscreen. Any or all of those options would have raised the value of this remake tremendously, but instead they went the safe route, did not change much of anything, and are trying to charge a decent price for what is a 21-year-old game.
In my opinion, that is pretty ballsy, but that won’t stop the STAR WARS fanbase from eating this up.
Story - 7/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Audio - 10/10
Visuals & Performance - 6/10
Value - 7/10
STAR WARS Episode 1: Racer is a great trip down a nostalgic road. Surprisingly, the game still plays great, and the soundtrack is spectacular. Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of reason to stay around after the nostalgia wears off, and it does not help that nothing new was added.
- Still plays great over 20 years later!
- Wonderful in handheld mode
- Phenomenal soundtrack
- Nothing new added
- Visuals didn’t age well