I deem it unlikely there will ever be a Super Star Wars – The Force Awakens on SNES, so welcome to the final entry in the Super Star Wars saga.
It’s the one with the Ewoks, a name that sounds suspiciously like Wookiees. The Empire are building a second Death Star, but it’s better than the first one because its fatal weakness is in a slightly different place. The Rebel Alliance is assembling for one final push, while Luke Skywalker and chums are attempting to rescue Han Solo from intergalactic gangster Jabba the Hutt. Can they do it? Course they can.
In 1994, LucasArts and Sculptured Software teamed up once again to round off the Super Star Wars trilogy. Nothing shockingly unexpected here: it’s the same side-scrolling/3rd person/1st person run-and-gun style as the others. The trilogy needed to be rounded off, of course, but let’s hope it goes out in style.
You get your intro, just like you did with the previous games. Again, it’s a well cut down version of the story. Brevity is your friend when storytelling in games. You can, of course, skip the intro altogether by pressing START a couple of times. Don’t you hate it when games don’t let you do that? Well, you can’t hate SROTJ for that.
This is the first Super Star Wars game to begin in third-person mode. You’re playing as Luke (and possibly Leia and Chewie) in a landspeeder, heading for Jabba the Hutt’s palace. The path is pretty narrow and you have to boost and jump to clear some of the gaps. You can collect Rebel Alliance symbols along the way. Collect 100 and you get an extra life. They’re quite generously spread throughout the game, so get as many extra lives as you can.
To begin with, it doesn’t really feel like you’re playing the story of Return of the Jedi, as this did not happen in the movie. Plus, that vehicle looks completely unfamiliar. Still, it’s not a terrible stage of the game. The background depicting the sunset over the Tattooine mesas looks great and takes your eyes off the spartan foreground.
When you finally reach Jabba’s palace, it’s time to pick your character. At last you get to play as Princess Leia! A blow for equality has been struck! In keeping with the story of the movie, Leia is dressed as the bounty hunter Boussh.
So Leia can jump and twirl and flip like a mad thing as she crosses the hazardous lands that lead to Jabba’s palace. There are some items in SROTJ that weren’t in the previous games. There’s a sort of green shield thing that rotates around the character and damages any enemies that touch it. Each green star can only take a handful of hits, but it’s still a good thing to get your hands on. There is also something here that Super Empire Strikes Back could have benefited from: checkpoints. Dotted throughout each stage, you’ll find R2-D2. If you move up to him a push DOWN, he’ll beep and boop and go whizzing off the screen. Now if you lose a life, you’ll start at the last R2 you collected. This is a boon, because the developers have decided to up the difficulty in another way: blaster power-ups can not be carried over to the next stage. The blaster power-ups are exactly the same from the other games (blaster, fire, seeker, rapid-ion and plasma), but no matter which one you get, it’ll be gone by the next stage and you’ll be reduced to the weakest one of them all. That’s pretty harsh. In all fairness, the power-ups are easier to obtain this time around, as there are more of them. But still, you have to fight your way to them and find them.
The time has come to face the first boss of the game.
Oof, ugh. Looks like Leia and Luke didn’t fare too well here. That’s the big eye thing that guards Jabba’s front door and you can’t afford to get too close to it. Since Leia and Luke only have melee weapons, we’re gonna have to see what a Wookiee with a bowcaster can do. Take it away, Chewie.
Even with the weakest blaster, this is how you take care of things, Wookiee style. Dodge and blast. Ah, yeah.
I’m switching to Luke for the interior of the palace, since all we’ve seen him do thus far is die on his arse. As in Super TESB, Luke has his force powers, only this time of course, you start with them instead of having to acquire them. The selection method for each power (Freeze, Heal, Vanish, Deflect, Lightsaber Throw) is much simpler. Instead of a bar appearing when you hit SELECT, they stay in the top-right corner of the screen and you cycle through them with the SELECT button. This feels way easier than the previous method. It’s a shame the Elevation power is gone, but you can’t have everything.
Nice to see so many members of Jabba’s retinue coming at us. There’s Gamorrean guards, Ree-Yees, Squid Head, li’l baby Rancors, Twi-lek dancers, and even Jabba’s cackling monkey-lizard pal, Salacious Crumb, drops in. Just like in Super Empire, Luke’s lightsaber is very effective. A good thing too, since he can no longer switch to blaster. You are better off with a melee weapon for most of this stage, as enemies come at you from both sides and close in fast. Luke’s somersaulting lightsaber attack is damn useful hereabouts. There are heart power-ups to be found, so it’s not too hard to keep your health up. You’ll also get some of those health lightsabers, which elongate your health bar. Just as before, they don’t carry over to the next stage. Maybe that would be a bit on the easy side. It’s a nice touch there are both foreground and background characters. It lends depth. You can even see Sy Snootles and the Rebo band in the background up there, bustin’ out their ever popular song, Lapti Nek, no doubt.
Of course it’s too soon to go up against the mighty Jabba himself, so you have to take on his creepy majordomo, Bib Fortuna. He shoots little lasers at you and teleports himself around the room. I did not know he could do that. Did you know he could do that? I didn’t. Once again, it seems better to switch characters here. I found a ranged weapon was much better, so I switched from Luke to Chewbacca. The checkpoint is not far from Bib Fortuna, so it’s not a struggle to get to him.
Very cool to see Han frozen in carbonite there. If you check the background, you might recognise a few characters. In addition to the big ol’ Hutt himself, there’s Klaatu, Malakili the Rancor Keeper, Boba Fett (only time you see him in this game, sorry) and a Gamorrean guard. I had all those action figures when I was a kid. All of them and more.
Jabba’s none too thrilled when the Rebels rescue Han from the carbonite, so he sends them to the dungeons, while Leia has to become Jabba’s new slave girl. Rrrowr!
I guess you’re supposed to rescue someone from the dungeon, but since Chewie was down there as well, I’m not sure who it’s supposed to be. Let’s assume Chewie Shawshanked his way out to rescue his buddy, Han. Little froggy monsters and Gamorreans are out to stop you. It’s pretty dark on account of it being a dungeon, but Chewbacca has this weird Wookiee iridescence, so it’s not difficult to see what you’re doing.
This giant frog thing lives in the dungeon. That is, until Chewbacca arrives on the scene. Now all it does is decompose down there. Even with an ordinary blaster, this boss isn’t so hard. Just keep out of its way.
Luke shows up at this point to tell Jabba he’d better let Han go or be prepared to receive a lightsaber suppository. Jabba declines politely and sends Luke down into the Rancor pit. I notice that Bib Fortuna is standing behind Jabba. Didn’t we already beat his ass down?
Even though Luke is supposed to face the Rancor, I fucked him off in favour of Han. Why? Because a powered-up blaster is way better for this job than a lightsaber. Getting through the maze of rocks and bones can be a bitch, though. There are plants that spit red spores up into the air, which not only block your path, but sap your health as well. There are giant jaw bones which for some reason are able to snap shut and open again. Whatever the reason, you don’t want to get chomped. These are the stages in games that I generally don’t enjoy. I just don’t like how messy they are. Not my thing.
By degrees you will reach the dreaded Rancor. He can be a tough son of a bitch, so forget the force and whip out your blaster.
When it comes to beating the Rancor, it’s best to jump when he gets close, because he’ll try to grab you. A ranged weapon is extremely advantageous right here, which is why Luke can go fuck himself. I had a good blaster and so was able to survive the Rancor ordeal. Jabba will not be pleased.
Yep, I was right. It took him ages to get that Rancor and I’ve just upped and killed it. He’s sending the gang out to suffer the worst fate in the galaxy: to be cast into an arsehole in the desert.
So I lost the blaster I used to waste the Rancor. Not fair! It’s hard to push forward with the crappy blaster, so I switched over to Luke, who fared far better. This is a pretty cool stage. The skiffs are whizzing over the desert and you have to jump from one to another to progress. Eventually, you make it to Jabba’s sail barge. In addition to the enemies you saw in the palace, you get attacked by Nikto and Barada as well. If you didn’t collect the original line of action figures, many if not all of these names will be meaningless to you. Sorry. Your loss.
Wouldn’t it be perfect if the boss was Boba Fett? Wouldn’t that make complete sense?
Oh, I guess not. Ohwhatthefuckizzat?
Whatever that is, it looks like it should be in charge. Come on! He looks like he could eat Jabba without needing a glass of water. Only one thing holds him back: his attack is very predictable. Just jump when he starts to swing the ball and chain and get used to his movements. The rest of the time is yours to lightsaber the living shit out of him. Too bad, not Boba Fett; you could have been great.
Before we move on, I have one more gripe with this stage. Where the fuck is Lando? This would have been the perfect stage to introduce him as a playable character. Looks like he’s been Ernie Hudsoned out of the game. Shame, shame.
It’s only fitting (again) to play this bit as Leia, and it’s not just because I’m sad enough to want to check out a pixellated Leia in a gold bikini. The whip thing is pretty effective and Leia’s jumps and twirls are good enough to get you to the end of the stage.
TIME TO TAKE ON JABBA…AS SOMEONE ELSE!
Once again, I found it easier to use a range weapon on the boss. I’m doing Leia a favour. Think about it. Who wants to get close to that blob of sleaze? I just jumped whenever he came close and shot the flab out of him. Yay.
The next cut-scene leads us all the way to Endor, where we’re supposed to take out the new Death Star’s shield generator. However, some scout troopers have spotted our Rebel chums, so we have to chase them down before they can tell on us.
The speeder bike chase! Naturally, it would be impossible to program the entire Endor forest into the game, so you’re zipping down this kind of corridor. Enemy speeders come at you and will bash into you. You have to conserve your health so that your bike doesn’t crash and burn. After a while of jostling with the enemy bike, it will speed forward and the pilot will turn around in his seat and shoot at you. Feel free to shoot back. I remember finding this part pretty hard and it took me quite a few goes to get through it. It is an important part of the story, however, and I’m glad it was included in the game in much the same way Lando wasn’t.
Oh! We get to play as everyone’s favourite Ewok, Wicket W. Warrick! That’s unexpected. Let’s see what he’s like.
You know what? The furry little bastard’s pretty good. He climbs about the Ewok village firing arrows at beasties and biker scouts, dispatching both pretty deftly. He can even fire the arrows into the thick tree trunks and use them as platforms to reach higher areas. It does look a little silly when he’s somersaulting around, but all the characters do that and the only one that doesn’t look out of place is Luke. I mean really, can you imagine Chewbacca doing a somersault? He’d be like a massive tumbleweed of death coming at you.
I still have to address the perpetual elephant in the room here. If there was room enough to put Wicket in the game (could just as easily have played as Leia here), then why no stage with Lando? Lando’s fuckin’ cool, man. He should have been in Super TESB as well.
I must say the night-time graphics of the Ewok village are pretty tasty. Kind of makes you want to flush the Empire out of there and just hang around by the fire. Well, there’s your motivation. Let’s blow up that damn shield generator. First off, we have to get through the Endor boss.
Well, I don’t know what the fuck that’s supposed to be and it clearly looks incongruous, but at least it’s not some huge, roided-out Ewok that’s gone rogue. I guess the Endor forests would have big, dangerous predators, but that one does not look like a product of its environment. Surely the moon’s evolution would have dictated that such an animal would have developed fur. Eh, that’s just nit-picking. It was a shame to spoil the lovely background with something that doesn’t quite fit, that’s all.
This is the bit when Luke goes all emo and leaves the welcome-the-rebels-to-the-Ewok-tribe party. He tells Leia that Vader’s his dad and that means he has to go fight him or some junk. Now, this is a part of the movie we do not see. For the audience, the scene stays with Leia and Han, while Luke disappears. Ever wanted to see his journey to Vader? Well, here you are playing it! Luke wanders through the woods and climbs up the legs of an AT-AT. This leads him to all manner of platforms and gantries until he encounters this crappy flying platform thing.
This thing looks so lame. In fact, it doesn’t even look finished. Is the top really just that flat bit? Seems oddly incomplete to me. Anyway, it vomits out robots which are quite easy to destroy. Just keep jumping and hitting it with the lightsaber and you’re good to go.
Hooray! The back of Lando’s head! He’s finally in the game as a kinda-sorta playable character! Here, the perspective changes again. We’re given a third-person view of the Millennium Falcon as it makes its attack on the defenses surrounding the Death Star. The D-pad turns the Falcon and the camera follows it. Nothing else special here. Just a bunch o’ TIE-fighters. Still, it’s a nice change of pace and sets you up for what’s to come.
I recruited Leia to take out the shield generator, seeing as how I deprived her of the chance to waste Jabba the Hutt. She had the good sense to change out of her slave girl outfit before embarking on this mission. Now, this stage is pretty expansive and perilous. There are so many places your character can just fall to their death. That part with the platforms encircling the guns is treacherous, to say the least. Then there’s that bit where you have to duck the huge laser beam. Looks like it could have come from the Death Star itself. Yes, the shield generator is a lot bigger than it looks in the movie.
Boom! By the time I got to the boss, I had the most powerful blaster. The genny was no match for Leia. The hardest part of it is that the only place your character can stand is on constantly descending platforms. If you let yourself go out of the bottom of the screen, you die. However, they also help you to stay out of the way of the generator’s fire power. With the powered-up blaster, it’s not too tricky. Just be mindful of those platforms.
So even though in the story, Luke went willingly to the Death Star with Darth Vader, he decides to let loose and go bat-shit cray-cray while he’s there. I guess Vader is face-palming at this point, thinking, “Kids.” What I’m saying is that this stage feels a bit like filler. Like it’s just there to add a bit more to the game. A laudable goal, no doubt, but I think the game’s long enough without this. I guess in one way, it does establish the Death Star as a location before the duel with Vader, thus giving you time to take it in, so there is something of an upside to it.
Another chance to play as the back of Lando’s head, as he and his co-pilot have reached the surface of the Death Star. Yet more TIEs to destroy.
Finally, we meet the Emperor. But before we can fight him, he sets a few minions on us. Well, perhaps minions is the wrong word. Yes, there are more of those crappy robots, but there are also the ultra-cool Royal Guards. They’re not that hard to beat with the lightsaber, but damn, they look awesome. This whole stage looks really cool. Very Death Star-y. I much prefer this sort of thing to the messy caves of the Rancor pit. But now: Vader. We must confront Vader. Then, only then, a Jedi will we be.
Well, there’s really only one way to defeat Vader. Release all your anger. Use the dark side, go on.
Just like in Super TESB, the duel with Vader is pretty cool, if a tad less epic. I mean, we’ve seen it before. Of course, the developers couldn’t very well leave it out of the game, so here it is. I like it a lot. The graphics and movement on Vader are great and the duel is challenging enough. I was compelled to use Force Heal a few times. I like the way he topples forward when you beat him. There’s a kind of pathos to it, as there should be. Since Vader is down, that leaves us with the fight with Palpatine himself.
In the movie, it is Vader who defeats the Emperor by casting him down the core shaft of the tower, but LucasArts wouldn’t want to deprive players of the chance to fight him by just having him die in a cut-scene. Oh, but wouldn’t it have been EPIC to fight the Emperor as Darth Vader? I know that’s not exactly what happened either, but it’s marginally closer to the story than having Luke take him on. Anyway, it’s still a damn good fight. It’s very hard too. The Emperor is no pushover. He flies around the screen shooting lighting at you, while destroying the platforms. The longer the fight goes on, the fewer places Luke has to stand, You can fall out of the bottom of the screen, which becomes increasingly likely late on. Yep, hard as balls, this guy. Just had to Force Heal the crap out of things here and slash away with my trusty lightsaber. Bye bye, Palpy.
Palpatine dies (depending on what you believe) and Vader becomes Anakin Skywalker again. All very sad, apart from the Palpatine bit, of course. So ends Luke’s part in the game.
The final attack on the Death Star begins. Now we’re in first-person mode and at the helm of the Millennium Falcon again. This is a most unusual 3-D element to the Super Star Wars trilogy. In addition to flying through this changing tunnel, you can use the L and R buttons to rotate the ship clockwise and counter-clockwise. This is necessary to get through some of the differently shaped tunnel segments. It can be difficult, as you can also steer all over the place, so it’s easy to crash into the sides of the tunnel. Moreover, there are TIE fighters. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the game back in the day. There were no other stages quite like it in the whole trilogy. It made full use of the SNES’s Mode-7 chip and rightly so. The tunnel is pretty damn long, so you have to keep your wits about you and destroy the TIEs as quickly as possible. There is no preset number of TIEs you have destroy before reaching the centre; it just makes sense to get them out of the way. Once you reach the centre of the superstructure, this happens:
The cut-scene depicts the destruction of the heart of the station and then it’s back to you at the controls. Now you have to fly all the way OUT of the Death Star. This time, there are no TIE fighters to destroy, which is good. There is a massive and rapidly increasing explosion following you, which is bad. You have to floor the accelerator all the way now. If you go too slowly, the fire will catch up with the Falcon and begin depleting its shields. I’m sure I don’t need to spell out what happens if you lose ’em all. Once you see the red circle thing with the twinkly lights, you know you’ve made it.
The Empire learned an important lesson today: Death Stars just don’t work. Took two of the buggers before they realised it.
I guess you might say LucasArts were in a bit of a trap here. It was no doubt expected of them that they should complete the SNES Star Wars trilogy, and that it should remain consistent with its forbears. That inevitably meant that it would be a bit samey. Apart from the Death Star run at the end of the game, there is nothing new here. At the same time, Star Wars fans would not be terribly disappointed. It’s a fine way to round off the trilogy, if not an exceptional one.
The graphics and sound are definitely on par with Super TESB and therefore superior to the first game. The controls are much the same, too. However, it lacks the same atmosphere as Super Empire. Perhaps this is because Empire established the definitive graphic style of the trilogy. Also, it was the adaptation of arguably the best movie in the trilogy and so had greater appeal.
Super ROTJ set itself apart by allowing the player to play as Leia for several of the stages and even as Wicket for two of them, but why leave Lando out of it? It would have added a teensy bit of variety to make him playable at least on the sail barge stage.
The omission of Boba Fett as a boss was frankly inexcusable. There was a perfect opportunity to have him in there, but instead we get some weird crustacean guy with a ball and chain. It would have tied excellently with the story of the film to have Boba as a boss. They could even have added a cut-scene in which he falls into the Sarlacc’s maw when defeated. Really missed a trick there, LucasArts.
Despite a few niggles, this one’s definitely worth a look, if not as hard a look as the previous game.