Star Wars Graced the SNES With Some of the Best (and Hardest) Action Games of the Early ’90s.

Star Wars and video games go together like Wookies and bowcasters. A universe bursting with senses-shattering battles, aliens beyond belief, and supreme battles between good and evil, Star Wars lends itself to any video game genre perfectly. Licensed games appeared as early as 1979 with companies such as Apple Computer and Kenner releasing the first electronic games for the series. Tie fighter battles, classic moments from the movies, and more awaited fans as the possibility of finally living the action came to life. It wasn’t until 1992, however, that Star Wars produced a new trilogy, one of amazing technical prowess and excitement, but also of a difficulty so high only the Sith could have crafted it: the Super Star Wars series.

Released in 1992 by Sculptured Software and LucasArts for the Super Nintendo, Super Star Wars was the series’ debut in the 16-bit era. Playing as multiple characters from the titular movie, Super Star Wars led players through iconic locales and events from the game, blending frenetic platforming action with gorgeous graphics and music. Its sequel, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, releasing in 1993, with the final entry in the trilogy, Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in 1994.

Super Star Wars Brought Jedis to the SNES

Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Chewbacca game play in Jabba's Palace.

Source: Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

The Super Star Wars trilogy was a massive leap forward for Star Wars in the world of gaming; not simply a novelty experience such as 1983’s Star Wars: Jedi Arena by Parker Brothers or another flight sim such as 1993’s Star Wars: X-Wing by Totally Games, the Super Star Wars games proved that Star Wars could not only exist on Nintendo’s primary platform but stand above its competitors. But how well did Star Wars transition to the SNES? For simplicity’s sake, I’ll be looking back at the Super Star Wars games as a whole and not each game singularly. Why? Because the games are mostly similar across the board and to review the specifics for each title would be redundant.

The Super Star Wars Trilogy

The Super Star Wars games do an absolutely fantastic job of translating the plots of each of their respective films into an engaging gameplay experience. Super Star Wars begins with Luke as he makes his way to the Jawa sandcrawler just as he did in the film. The major difference between the film and the game is that Luke ends up fighting every living creature on Tatooine en route to the Jawas. If you remember the scene in the movie where he fights a giant sarlac with a blaster pistol right before he scales the Sandcrawler itself, dodging defense turrets and droids, well, this is the game for you.

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back approaches its source material in the same way. Opening on Hoth just like the film, the game follows Luke as he investigates the mysterious crash in the frozen wilderness. The iconic Battle of Hoth follows this introductory stage as does Luke’s time on Dagobah. Though, much like the first game in the trilogy, great liberties are taken with the finer details of Luke’s adventure. Giant wampa’s and massive Imperial Probe Droids are among the first bosses Luke must face before he even makes it back to Echo Base.

Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is more of the same, but as it was released two years after the first game, on a much bigger scale. Players are treated to a Mode 7 speeder stage that details how the heroes of the film made their way to Jabba’s Palace. Of course, the game spruces the voyage up just a tad: an entire army’s worth of enemies get in the way culminating with a battle against an oversized TT-8L/Y7 gatekeeper droid.

The Super Star Wars Games Will Test The Mightiest of Jedi

Source: Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Sweet baby Grogu, these games are hard. On Normal difficulty, it is a feat and a half to even make it to the third stage of each game. I burned through an entire Continue in Empire Strikes Back and I hadn’t beaten the second boss yet. Each of the games plays virtually the same so the absurd difficulty is consistent across the series. I even had my wife play through each of the games and after grumbling words that would make a Gammorean blush, she summarized her thoughts with this: “These games are dumb.”

So what exactly about the Super Star Wars games makes them so hard? Everything. From the very moment you start each of the games you’re bombarded with endlessly spawning enemies. Enemies come from the sides, they come from the ground, they come from the sky. Blaster fire, spikes, spines, acid, flamethrowers, bombs, and more are constantly shooting at you. It never ends.

Taking damage produces knock-back which results in poor Luke bouncing around like a pinball. The stages, while sprawling and well-detailed, are rife with blind jumps that result in cheap deaths. Even with enemies dropping health upon defeat and tons of secret items to find such as thermal detonators, point multipliers, shields, and life bar extenders, the games never let up. When I first played Return of the Jedi as a kid I couldn’t get past the second stage. Was I able to now? Nope.

Capturing the best of Star Wars

I cannot stress enough, however, how well-made the Super Star Wars games are made. The graphics, especially in Return of the Jedi, are gorgeous. From the fore and backgrounds to the drool dripping from enemies’ mouths, the graphics are vibrant and detailed exquisitely. The music is a rousing rendition of classic themes from the films, with plenty of variations to keep the experience fresh. The snarls and yells from enemies, the blaster fire and lightsaber swings, and droid beeps and boops are all pitch-perfect, immersing players in the Star Wars universe.

Today, the Super Star Wars games still hold up well. Fans of the original trilogy of films can find a veritable treasure trove of content throughout the games while fans of classic action platformers can have their skills put to the ultimate test across the three titles. For more casual players, there is absolutely no shame in playing with codes or save states. These games are and always have been, ridiculously hard. For those willing to brave such an experience, the Super Star Wars games have some of the most exciting action on the SNES to offer.

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