Sunday, January 22, 2017

Plug n Play Game Corner: Star Wars The Original Trilogy Touch Pad Edition

Last time, I showed you one of the best Star Wars and Plug n Play consoles I've ever played: The Original Trilogy. But haven't you ever wondered what it would be like if they removed the smooth controls of an arcade joystick and replaced it with a cheap touchpad? ...No? ...Well, they did it anyway...
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Game: Star Wars The Original Trilogy Touch
Manufacturer: Jakks Pacific
Release Date: 2012
Genre: Fighting/Shooter













One of the major points I gave the Star Wars: The Original Trilogy game was that it had the closest to arcade-perfect controls I've seen yet on this blog. It was digital, but the free range of movement they gave the joystick still felt very much analog, like you could move the joystick anywhere and it would register as movement as opposed to relying on repetitive digital switches. It had problems with detecting direction sometimes, especially when trying to jump up and over in Lightsaber Duels, but it was fluid, natural, and really felt like they really wanted to create an authentic arcade experience.


















And then in 2012, Jakks Pacific decided that good controls were overrated and rereleased it in a crappy touchpad console!


















For some reason, Jakks Pacific decided to take a handful of what I assume were their most popular games and repackage them in new consoles with new controls in their new "Touch" line of Plug n Play games. Besides the Star Wars game, Spongebob and Spider-Man also joined the line, each getting a much flatter body and removing the standard joystick and button layout they recently had in favor of a new "touch" format.


















And no, I don't know why they went this route. Maybe they were trying to cash in on the smartphone/tablet game craze where people now prefer to use their index fingers to control the characters on screen instead of a thumbstick or directional pad. Maybe it was an attempt to reintroduce people to their line of games since most of them were out of print and they wanted to rerelease what they felt was their top work. ...Or maybe it was just a gimmick to produce cheap consoles for a quick buck. Maybe all three, maybe none, I don't know and I don't think we'll be getting an answer...













But here it is: Star Wars: The Original Trilogy Touch. The result of taking a game dumbed down for Plug n Play and... dumbing it down even more. I was going to go over it quickly in the last review, but seeing how long that one ended up becoming, I'll just give it its own spot here.













You can tell just from looking at the design of this console that this is the Plug n Play equivalent of rereleasing something as a "budget title." Gone is the detailed Millenium Falcon body, replaced by a flat touchpad and some stickers.













Just change the color of the plastic, stick on some different stickers, and BOOM! It's a whole new console! Generic!













 And it commits the cardinal sin of Plug n Play games(as well as game accessories in general): It requires 4 TRIPLE A BATTERIES! I went over this in my Elmo's World review, but I'll say it again here: NOBODY HAS FOUR "AAA" BATTERIES! If you're lucky, you have TWO for the TV remote! ...Provided you don't have one of those TVs that are smartphone-compatible or one of those apps on your phone that works as a remote. Nobody is going to go out and buy AAA batteries just to play a cheap game console like this! Use AA batteries, be rechargeable, power with a cord, or don't bother...













Since Amaze Entertainment was defunct by this point, the Jakks Pacific team-up this time is with Code Mystics.














Code Mystics is a Canadian company founded in 2009 by Jeff Vavasour, ex-vice-president at Foundation 9 Entertainment, which I briefly mentioned as the company that acquired Amaze Entertainment in 2006. Before that, he also helmed the Canadian branch of Digital Eclipse, which later became Backbone Entertainment, that specialized in ports of games to portable systems. ...Doesn't that sound familiar...? And after founding a company known for their ports and emulation of older games to newer platforms, he founded Code Mystics, which specializes in ports and emulation of older games to newer platforms. ...Well, at least he's consistent.











 And this is one of the few companies to have worked on a Plug n Play game that's still around and developing games today, as you can see by the work they proudly display on their website.



















Most of their work is in developing arcade and Atari emulation software for consoles like the Xbox One and PS4, as well as iOS and Android, but they're also behind a lot of Dragon's Lair, Mortal Kombat, and Killer Instinct ports, as well as helping to develop Rare Replay for the Xbox One.


















And like Amaze Entertainment, they have ties to Lego, contributing to the Lego Dimensions Pack "Midway Arcade." ...A game that I unfortunately don't own yet...











 And like HotGen, they're not ashamed to display their Plug n Play work on their site, as they're not only behind a Retro Arcade 10-in-1 they also created with Jakks Pacific, but all three Jakks Pacific Touch games.

So with all that experience, does that mean we've gotten a fantastic port of The Original Trilogy that expands on the original and updates the controls to meet the expectations of a new generation of gamers? ...You've clearly skipped over my dripping disappointment from earlier...













When the console starts up, it starts calibrating the touch pad, meaning that nothing can touch it at this point. ...And I mean NOTHING!













Keep the touchpad clean, because if there's a single speck of dust on it while it's calibrating, expect erratic controls that are either barely responsive or TOO responsive. ...And you might just get those anyway...













Since these are the same games from the previous console, there's no need to go into detail with each one again. Instead, I'm just going to quickly explain as best as I can what it feels like to control each with these new controls.













And let's start with the worst of the games to use this control scheme: Lightsaber Duels. ...How do I even put this? ...Imagine playing Tekken. On a laptop. Without using ANY of the keyboard or any other peripherals, all actions being performed with the touchpad! And it's non-multitouch. And it's a cheap laptop with a grainy texture that, for some reason, they also plastered onto the mouse, so running your finger over it is like rubbing against sandpaper. And there's only one mouse button, yet the game requires another action, so they ask you to touch the center of the touchpad to perform it WHILE you're still moving and dodging! AND it barely recognizes your finger touching it to the point that you'd gladly go buy a dollar store external mouse in a desperate hope that it's not as jerky as trying to move the pointer with the touchpad!* That should give you the IDEA of how hard it is to use these controls in a FIGHTING GAME!

*In other words, my first laptop...













I can't begin to explain just how out of place this touch pad feels trying to control a fighting game! The instructions TRY to make it simple, just touch the right spots on the controller to move and fight, but since this is all one touchscreen and your focus is going to be more on the fighting than the controls, it's easy to touch it in the wrong place and either have the game not recognize it or perform a completely different action! You're CONSTANTLY taking your eyes off the match to look down at the console to reorient yourself! And if you've made a console where more focus has to be put on the controls than what's happening in the game itself, you have joined such illustrious other consoles like the Atari Jaguar, Intellivision, Colecovision, and Atari 5200 in failing Console Design 101...













Oh, but it gets even better! The console only has one button, which this game assigns to heavier attacks. So how do you perform a regular attack? Touching the CENTER! While you're moving around, trying to block the enemy's attacks or pull off a special move, you have to stop and find the center of the touchpad just to ATTACK! ...THAT is a new level of incompetent control design.















Imagine playing Contra, and in order to attack, you had to take your hands off all the buttons and push both Start and Select at the same time! Even with the Konami Code, you'd never make it past the first stage!













Though I guess the controls DO make it easier to jump over the opponent. Just touch the left or right corners. ...Small victory at best though...













The controls are actually so bad, that I can't make it past the second stage! Darth Vader just messes Luke up without breaking a sweat! I CRINGE to think what it would be like to get through Obi-Wan's campaign with this layout! I've played worse fighting games, but this is the first one where a game that had good control mechanics is rendered unplayable by the console itself! So no! I don't like this one! Stay away at all costs! Moving on!













With the next game, Red Leader, the controls, surprisingly, actually work! ...In fact, I'd even say they're better than the joystick! ...To an extent, anyway.













In this game, instead of tapping the controls, you move your finger around on the touchpad to control the ship. This allows for rather fluid movement as the ship follows the distance and direction of your finger, making it much easier to position the ship and avoid oncoming lasers and other projectiles! I'm actually impressed by how responsive it is and how easily I can maneuver around this way! ...As long as the touchpad doesn't lose track of where my finger is... Which it does... Often...













This is another game that required two buttons, but instead of stupidly assigning one to the middle of the touchpad(seriously, what the heck?), they compensate by assigning the bombs to the button and just having the lasers automatically fire. While that MOSTLY works, it can cause a problem since no more than 4 of the player's lasers can be on the screen at once, meaning that once 4 shots have been fired, you need to wait until they leave the screen or impact an enemy before firing again. Therefore, it introduces some unneeded strategy into the game, where you need to position yourself in the right place so the lasers will hit the enemy as opposed to fly off and leave you open to attack. ...And, as you can see, it's not that easy...













Still, compared to Lightaber Duels and given that this type of game is easier to control with a mouse than a joystick, this might be the best game on this console! In fact, it might even be better than its original counterpart! It needs a better controller, but I wouldn't mind playing this version if I ever want to play the Original Trilogy games again!













But if I do ever end up with a world's record high score, I won't be able to claim bragging rights, since the High Score screen is impossible to enter a name on! I swipe in every direction, tap the button a few times, and the best I can come up with is ZAA. So my initials will be listed besides anyone who didn't want to enter their name on a high score screen but wanted to see something more than just AAA...













 Then it's back to frustration with Assault on Hoth... Since the only directions are Left and Right, you'd think this would be a game where tapping the sides of the touchpad would be the controls of choice. ...Instead, they keep the "drag" mechanic from Red Leader, but make it a LOT harder for the game to detect.













To move the guy, you have to swipe starting from the EXACT center of the console and go in a straight line. If you're one degree off, the game doesn't recognize it. This becomes EXTREMELY frustrating when hordes of enemies storm you all at once, since you're struggling with the controls in a desperate attempt to get the guy to respond and move left or right!













 You will lose more turrets this way...













As with Red Leader, they compensated for the lack of a button by assigning the big button the shield and having the turrets autofire. But in this case, the turrets let out an infinite stream of lasers as opposed to 4 at a time, so that really helps simplify things and you don't have to worry about missing the enemy, especially when the AT-STs and AT-ATs come at you.













But it makes little difference when you can't move into position fast enough to block projectiles! I couldn't get as far in this game as I could in the last console's version because I was constantly fighting with the touchpad, trying to get my guy to move over even one space! If you play this game, expect to be seeing this screen a lot... Once again, we have a game ruined by poor controls that didn't need to exist. Not Lightsaber Duels bad, but frustrating nonetheless.













And finally, we have the loosely ported arcade game: Battle of Endor. It's back to using the free range of movement Red Leader offered. ...But it's not AS well executed.













In all honesty, it still controls arguably better than the joystick version. ...But here, it might actually be TOO fluid. The first and third level are based around avoiding objects that you can crash into if even a pixel touches them. And since the depth perception is so bad on the first level, you're never quite sure where an object begins or ends! So even the slightest adjustment on the touchpad can send you careening into the side of a tree without even knowing it!













This can lead to a LOT of cheap deaths...













Once you finally get the hang of that level, or at least have a lucky run, it's back to Chewbacca and the AT-ST. And seeing how this is a section that requires precision and careful movements, then controls that slide the crosshair all over the place are the best for this type of game, right?! Seriously, it takes about 5 lasers to hit ONE target. It's a good thing this is the shortest and easiest level to get through...













Finally, the Death Star Run. ...Same problems as the first level, but not AS difficult. In fact, the sensitive control actually helps steer the Falcon out of the way faster than a joystick AND drive TIE Fighters into the beams! You can actually get further without losing a life using this control method!













...Unfortunately, on the rush out of there, the controls have a habit of slowly drawing you TOWARDS the explosion, meaning you'll unavoidably get hurt and eventually die. So close, and yet so far...

And there you have the outcome of when games obviously meant for an arcade control scheme are given the smartphone puzzle-game treatment. You get three(arguably four) games that don't control right, have the strangest rules applied to HOW they control, and are frustratingly slippery at best, virtually unplayable at worst. Replace "games" with "stories", "control" with "plot", and "unplayable" with "unwatchable", and that sentence can also apply to Attack of the Clones...

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Design: The console is boring, cheap, and generic. Gone is the detailed body of the Millenium Falcon, replaced by what looks like one of those newer "high-tech" Etch-a-Sketches with the lights and buttons. The only thing that makes it recognizable as a Star Wars game are the cheap stickers on the sides. In fact, if I was walking by and saw this on a store shelf, I probably wouldn't even know it WAS a collection of games. I'd just think it was a cheap Plug n Play coloring book or something. ...Of course, having an obsession to own every Plug n Play game, I'd pick it up, but I don't think the average consumer would have any motive to. There's nothing about it that makes it stand out among the countless other Star Wars toys and games out there, so if I didn't know beforehand what this was, I would have never thought it was a port of an arcade game collection.







Controls: ...Haven't I said enough about the controls yet? It's an attempt to try to give older games a more modern touch pad scheme, but failing to map controls that actually work with the game they're assigned to. With games that give you a free range of movement, such as Red Leader, they work perfectly(with the exception of the automatic lasers.) With games that require a lot of obstacle dodging, such as Battle of Endor, they're mixed depending on what you're dodging and how much time you have to react. And for games like Lightsaber Duels and Assault on Hoth, which require extremely accurate controls and fast movement in a tight area, they're basically unplayable. So across the board, the controls do much more harm than good.








Music & Sound: Same as the previous game. No changes.


Graphics: Same as the previous game. No changes


Gameplay: Mostly the same as the last console, but since the controls are so bad, it's hard to even play these games. They did try to compensate for the lack of one of the buttons, but the rules they assigned for controlling each of the games are ridiculous. Why do I have to slide the character in Assault on Hoth instead of just tapping left or right on the control pad? Why don't you have the ship automatically drop bombs over targets in Red Leader instead of assigning the only button to bombs while the easily wasted lasers are automated? Why am I continually pulled backward during the final segment of Battle of Endor? And, most importantly, WHY DO I NEED TO PRESS THE CENTER OF THE TOUCH PAD TO ACTIVATE AN ATTACK IN LIGHTSABER DUELS?! These choices add difficulty to games that were already pretty hard to start with and shift the difficulty from the gameplay to the controls, which is a cardinal sin of game development. So even though the games play the same, playing them is a lot less fun...


Replay Value: The only game on here I'd be tempted to come back to is Red Leader, since that's the only one that controls well. I guess if you spent enough time playing Assault on Hoth and Battle of Endor and learned how to use the game's wonky controls, you could overcome their frustration and see how far you could get with the actual game. But I feel safe in saying that NOBODY will want to return to Lightsaber Duels. So it has replay value, but only if you feel like you CAN replay it...







Overall:


If you've ever wanted a crowning example of how a great retro game can be ruined by bad modern controls, here you go. The gameplay is virtually unchanged and the graphics and music are still pretty darn good, but the touch pad is so unnecessary and offers so little that you have to wonder why they chose THIS game to showcase their new control scheme. I don't blame Code Masters, given what they had to work with, but I am disappointed that someone, probably Jakks Pacific, chose to implement these certain controls into this game. It's like trying to play Super Mario Bros with a trackball, it just doesn't work. So if you can, find the original version and play that. If you can't, then just play Red Leader. Nothing else is worth your time.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Plug n Play Game Corner: Star Wars The Original Trilogy

Tired of Star Wars at this point? ...Well, too bad! Let's look at one of many Star Wars Plug n Play consoles: The Original Trilogy! ...Because they haven't made one for Rogue One yet.
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Game: Star Wars The Original Trilogy
Manufacturer: Jakks Pacific
Release Date: 2006
Genre: Fighting/Shooter






















As of this writing, Star Wars: Rogue One, the first in the planned Star Wars anthology series, has been out for almost a month. And with its box office take of over $900 million, we can agree that the general consensus of the movie is totally

























Yeah, it wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't that fantastic either. The effects and battles were very well done and I think the characters they brought back(in more ways than one) were phenomenal, especially Vader and CGI Grand Moff Cushing, but the characters they introduced were extremely underdeveloped, there was very little emotion from our leads(that's what you get for using the director behind the Godzilla reboot), and a lot of scenes felt REALLY stretched out in an attempt to reach 2 hours.









And, as I presume most of us did, I missed the opening text crawl. I can understand that they wanted this movie to stand on its own, but SOMETHING besides a static, silent title card would have been nice!


















 Still, as I mentioned last time, I don't think they were aiming for something as high-profile as the official series and this was basically just to fill in the cracks in the story and the gap in waiting for the next official movie. And, as ok movies go, I think it was above average and I don't regret watching it. So if you haven't seen it yet, I'd recommend checking it out.


















And if Chirrut Imwe doesn't get a spinoff series of some sort to make up for his lack of screen time, there WILL be heavy Vader Force-choke casualties...

And Rogue One leads directly into A New Hope, and that's the start of the Original Trilogy, and that's what the game we're looking at today is called! ...How's that for a segue?















Of all the Plug n Play games I've collected, two official franchises in particular stand out as having the most consoles dedicated to them: Spongebob and Star Wars. I guess you could throw Marvel and DC in there as well, but since their games mostly focus on different character worlds as opposed to a single universe, I'm going to argue that they don't count.


















I can't find a complete list of all Star Wars Plug n Play games released, but from what I can gather, there have been roughly between 10-15 games, counting rereleases and alternate shells, based off the franchise, ranging from minigame collections to motion-based shooters.


















They're also one of the few Plug n Play lines that continue to this day, with the most recent game, Star Wars: Blaster Strike, released in December 2015 to tie into the premiere of the Force Awakens movie.















What we're looking at today is probably one of the first, being released in 2006, when the Plug n Play craze was at its peak.


















There was at least one other console released before this, the Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith compilation, so I would guess that we're looking at the 2nd or 3rd console to be produced. So no, we're not looking at these chronologically. We're going by my standby method of reaching into the box and pulling out the first thing relevant to whatever theme I'm aiming for. ...When I even bother with a theme.













So let's take a look at the console itself. As you might have noticed, it looks like a bulky Millennium Falcon with a giant lightsaber hilt sticking out of the top. ...Why don't they make the story behind THAT into a movie...?













And while not as detailed as the Scooby-Doo console we looked at last time, I do like the attention to detail. They've actually molded every indent, wire, and missing panel seen on the ship, including the gray vents on the back and the warp engine area on the rear.













Even the gunner's cockpit gets windows, which will be useful for when they make a TIE Fighter Plug n Play shell...













I'm guessing this is modeled after the Falcon post-Death Star run, since it's missing the sensor dish on the front. Lando didn't exactly make good on his "not a scratch" promise, did he? ...I would KILL to have been a fly on the wall when Han confronted him after the celebration and he was sober enough to notice the new gaping hole on his spaceship... Too bad they pointlessly killed off Han in The Force Awakens, because I would have loved some passing reference to the incident. ...But I digress.













And for controls, we have two buttons, A & B, and the lightsaber joystick I mentioned. I can't find if this is modeled off of a specific lightsaber, as it doesn't look like Obi-Wan's, Luke's, or Vader's, but it's pretty obvious that's what it is. ...But they did remember to stamp "Star Wars" on the bottom(top?), so they got the important bit at least.













Actually, something unique about this console is the joystick. With most other consoles that use joysticks pretending to be analog, they move maybe a few millimeters before they click the directional button. This, however, has a very wide area of rotation, allowing for a much more smooth and "arcade" feel with the controls. At first, I even thought it was true analog... but if you carefully move the joystick to the sides, you can feel the buttons inside being pressed, meaning it's digital. Still, it's the best faux-analog control I've seen with one of these consoles.













Before I get to the game footage, I'd like to relate an interesting anecdote that happened between my last Plug n Play review and now. In my last review, I told you that I had bought a new HD capture device, but since its output was HDMI-only, I couldn't use it with my old RCA TV. So I went ahead and bought a video converter so I could continue using my old TV.













However, as I was waiting for it to arrive, a liquidation center had this HUGE holiday sale on HD TVs, and I guess a UHD TV slipped in there, because it was also on sale for half off! So I now own a brand new 4k television!













So I figured now I could just output the signal to the TV via HDMI without the need of a converter... which I can't. I'm not a tekkie, but I'm guessing the signal from the console is still passing through the capture device and through the TV cord as analog, which can't be read by digital inputs such as HDMI. That means I still have to use the converter box to pass the signal through to the TV's RCA inputs. So the signal is coming from an analog console, passing through a digital device, and then either being reconverted or passing through another analog device.













Bottom line, the footage is going to look much better to you than it did to me. ...Still, I'm glad I bought that converter when I did.













Anyway, today's game comes to us from the usual people at Jakks Pacific, with special guest programmer: Amaze Entertainment.













Amaze Entertainment was a semi-prolific game developer in the 90s and 00s. According to my research(aka I checked Wikipedia since most other sources are defunct), it was one of the largest independent game producers in the world, with over 300 employees on its payroll.
















Their main output was licensed ports of console games, mostly movie tie-ins, to portable systems like the DS and the PSP.
















They even have ties to Lego, porting Lego Star Wars II and Bionicle Heroes to the GBA and DS. And anyone with good ties to Lego is alright in my book.














After being acquired by Foundation 9 Entertainment, they were eventually rebranded as Griptonite Games, where they continued porting licensed console games to handheld, before finally being folded into Glu Mobile, where they now develop smartphone games. ...I'd pity them, but since they developed cheap tie-ins to begin with, I don't think this is much of a step down.













The console is comprised of 4 different games accessible from the main menu. ...Which I JUST realized is a holographic selection screen being beamed to us by R2-D2. I don't know how I missed that. I guess I was just concentrating on completing the games and never bothered to look left. And he's standing in the middle of... somewhere. Mos Eisley? The Rebel base? My bathroom? I don't know, it's too blurry and vague to make out.













In order of selection, the games are:

Lightsaber Duel
Red Leader
Assault on Hoth
Battle of Endor

Each represented by a low-res screenshot from the movie. I'm always impressed when they can manage to digitize real images into one of these consoles.
















 Even if it looks like Hong Kong 97 as a result...













Normally, I'd start off with the first game in the list, as logic often dictates we do... but this first game is special. I'd like to think of it as the main feature, the thing they put all their time and effort into. So to keep the surprise and not overshadow the other games on the console just yet, I'm saving that one for last.













So let's instead get the ball rolling with Red Leader, a top-down shooter where you pilot an X-Wing(presumably as Wedge Antilles based on the call sign) in the assault against the Death Star.













Now originally, I had written that it was the first run on the Death Star, which, considering this is based on the first Star Wars Trilogy, would have meant that each of the latter three games corresponded to a different movie. In this case, A New Hope. ...However, after reading the intro screen to this game again, it turns out it's the attack on the SECOND Death Star. ...Which, since you attack a Star Destroyer, makes sense in hindsight. ...But now that means that all the games on this console are based on either Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi(with the arguable exception of parts of Lightsaber Duels, but we'll get to that later.) For a console called "The Original Trilogy", A New Hope got the shaft...













Anyway, the game plays very similarly to Xevious. You pilot the X-Wing through space, shooting down TIE Fighters and other Empire spacecraft that fly onscreen in certain patterns and try to either blow up your ship or go kamikaze and ram into you. If you've played any vertically-scrolling space shooter, this is probably familiar to you.













Various power-ups are hidden in these blue asteroids that you break open to grab. Green means stronger lasers, blue means single-use shields, spaceship allows you to have up to two companion A-Wings that also double as extra hit points(allowing for a maximum of four hits combined with the shield), lasers wipe out all enemies onscreen, and the Rebellion logo gives you extra lives. Trust me, you're going to need to grab ALL of these at every opportunity if you plan on making it anywhere in this game...

The levels are broken up into various locations, which seem to follow a consistent but slightly erratic pattern. The Space levels, as I already explained, are comprised of flying through the blackness of space, occasionally passing Star Destroyers, Endor, and the Death Star, and shooting down TIE Fighters and other ships that stand in your way of getting to the next level.













At the end, you fight a TIE Defender, which serves as the only actual boss of the game. And this guy is ANNOYING! It zigzags downward across the screen, shooting nearly invisible bullet projectiles in random directions and dodging most of your lasers. And when it makes it to the bottom, it flies offscreen, only to then drop green energy balls on its way back up that take until it's nearly halfway down again to fully disappear! So the window available to shoot it is very narrow and you're going to be lucky to score maybe two shots each time it descends. ...Still, it's not an unfair challenge and it's manageable.













Until later levels, when more TIE Defenders join the party and they fire heat-seeking missiles as well as their other projectiles...













In the Star Destroyer levels, you're flying over the Star Destroyer that you're presumably going to crash into the Death Star. This is where things get serious, as not only are you contending with the squadrons of Empire ships, but these turrets that shoot at you if you remain in their line of sight for too long. And the fact that most of the sprites, including your ship, can easily blend or blur into the background REALLY doesn't help with keeping track of everything..













This is also where the other main Xevious element comes in, as you're forced to use your bombs to destroy the turrets below, including these inactive turrets that are the source of the level's power-ups. ...I admit that I've never been that good at multi-tasking under pressure, so Xevious and clones of Xevious aren't games I've gotten very far on...













At the end, you're tasked with destroying these two shield generators before finally attacking the bridge and blowing up the ship. All while you're still contending with hordes of Empire ships and turrets...













This gets especially difficult later as the ship itself starts fighting back with heat-seeking missiles on top of everything else! ...Hope you saved up those extra lives...













The third location is the pattern-breaker Asteroid levels. I say that, because they appear every fourth level, regardless of what would have been next, so you can get these after either a Space or Star Destroyer level. These are pretty straightforward, just blasting whatever rocks are in your way and grabbing the bonuses out of the blue ones. Think of it as a reprieve and a way to recover and grab your lost power-ups before whatever the next level throws at you. ...Just remember to keep shooting at the rocks in your way...













I actually found myself REALLY liking this game. I'm not a huge player of space shooters, but I do enjoy a good quality one every once in a while. And this one delivered in a big way. The enemies were varied, they had different firing patterns and maneuvers, the ship controlled well, I never felt like the game was "cheating" and my shots were missing or doing no damage, and it gave me a fair amount of challenge. It's difficult, but in a way I felt I could adapt. And the new and additional hazards they introduce with every level really helped things feel fresh and unrepetitive. So for a Plug n Play console game, this one goes above and beyond.













It's especially helped by just how good the graphics and animation are in this game and across the console as a whole. Just look at how clear and detailed the ships look and how many frames of animation they have just for turning! Look at the background images and how they play with scale and perspective! This is top-notch sprite art, worthy of the top tier of the SNES or GBA. I think it was a great idea to get Amaze Entertainment as a developer, since, being portable game developers, they knew what space and restrictions they had to work with and they delivered the best with what they were given! ...A shame that they can churn out quality with huge time and graphic restrictions and Ubisoft can't...













Next on the roster, we have Assault on Hoth, a sort-of tower defense game. ...Just without the tower.













It's a much more scaled-down game than the last one. Here, you control this Rebel soldier shooting these turrets at various Empire troops, including Stormtroopers, probes, AT-ATs and AT-STs. Just run between each turret and shoot them before they make it to the shield generator.













However, the Rebellion must have bought their turrets from some cut-price flying Jewish-stereotype on a rundown desert planet, because one shot causes the turret to explode and cost a life. Then you need to wait for another soldier to come along and repair the turret before you can use it again.













So to counter this, you need to quickly raise the shields of the turret before the projectile can hit. The shields very quickly drain and you can't shoot while they're up, so time it wisely.













There are a few power-ups to help you in this game as well. "Ion Strike" slows the enemies down, "All Shield" automatically raises all shields temporarily, and "Reflect Shot" bounces the lasers back at the enemies when the shield is up. However, they're even harder to grab in this game since they're dropped periodically by a ship flying over your zone and don't stay around for too long, so you can easily miss them when you're concentrating on the rest of the playing field.













At the end of each level, as is typical of "defense" games, the game blares "WARNING" at you to signal a rush of enemies, so you need to really stay on your toes and rush between each turret to either fire lasers or turn on the shields at the exact moment they're needed to hold back the wave of minions rushing at you.













Because let the Empire get too close, and you've doomed the Rebellion! ...Or you've kick-started The Empire Strikes Back. ...Yeah, not as much to lose with this game, since LOSING is actually what needed to happen for the movie to start... ...So you're basically just holding back Luke from going to Dagobah, Han and friends from getting to Cloud City, and eventually Luke and Vader having their penultimate lightsaber battle and Vader telling Luke he's his father. ...Not as much of an incentive to keep playing in that case...













In all seriousness, this game is... ok. Tower defense is not my genre of choice, especially since it reminds me of escort missions from other games, but this was pretty straightforward and simplistic, so I didn't feel that rushed or overpowered. However, unlike the last game, it can get boring and repetitive pretty quickly. The graphics are still REALLY good, especially since the isometric perspective really does give everything a three-dimensional look, but there's nothing that holds my attention and encourages me to see what happens in the next level. So this game is good, just bland. ...But I'll play it over Elmo's World any day, so it's got that going for it.













And if you're wondering at this point what the music is like for the console... there isn't any. We have a pretty sweet digitized version of the Star Wars Theme on the Main Menu, and the Imperial March plays for the High Score screen, but for the games themselves, it's eerily quiet. They have sound effects for lasers, light sabers, explosions, and so on, but no music. I don't know if this was a space issue or they ran out of time or what, but the epicness of each game is diminished slightly by not having triumphant music playing in the background! It's like making a version of Doom and not including the music!


















 ...Oh right, they did that...


















But really? They couldn't have included any of the other tracks from the movies? The Force Theme? The Emperor's Theme? The music during the attack on the Death Star? I guess maybe they wanted to stay true to the movies which are actually pretty silent throughout and music is used more as an emphasis on certain scenes. But in a video game, where you're basically completing the same repetitive actions over and over again, it really helps keep your interest... I'm not saying the games NEED music with how well they're executed, but it really would have been nice and I would have wanted to play longer.













Unless it was these guys over and over again... But I digress.













Next, we have Battle of Endor, which recreates the climax of Return of the Jedi across three levels.

First, you're Princess Leia flying at top speed on a speed bike, avoiding trees and pushing Scout Troopers out of the way(preferably into the same trees.)













Then you're Chewbacca piloting an AT-ST and shooting down any Storm Troopers in your way.













And finally, you're Lando flying into the Death Star to shoot out the main reactor.

This is certainly one of the more ambitious games on this console and the one that captures the most of an "arcade feel."















In fact, it's based on the Return of the Jedi arcade game from the early 80s, just with a side view as opposed to the arcade's 2.5D perspective and with a few of the elements simplified or removed.













 Most disappointingly the intro screen and the digitized voice samples from the movie...













It's also the most immediately challenging, as you can easily die faster in this game than the others. In the first level, you control Princess Leia on a speed bike in the Endor forest. Usually, you're shooting at Scout Troopers or trying to force them into a tree, but often they'll sneak behind you and shoot you unless you VERY quickly dodge. ...That will more than often leave you crashing into a tree, which is instant death in this level.













And the depth perception is so bad, that you can't always judge where you can avoid the tree! So you'll be crashing a LOT...













After you finally get past that level, you move on to Chewbacca in an AT-ST. This is much more of a rail-shooter, where you're actually controlling the crosshair to aim and shoot at Storm Troopers, Storm Troopers with missiles(which can easily be shot down by aiming in the general direction), and the occasional AT-ST.













There are also these Ewoks running around and it deducts points if you shoot them... but they're Ewoks! Screw 'em!













While the easiest of the levels, what makes this one tricky is that the reticle has to be EXACTLY centered on the target, or it misses. Aiming around the area does nothing. And since the targets are so small, most of your shots are going to end up missing, even if it looks like a hit... Still, you have infinite ammo, so just hold down the button and keep shooting.













This part also contains the only cutscene on the console, where Chewbacca shoots the Storm Troopers guarding the shield generator, then pops out of the top as an Ewok walks to his side. No point. It's just cool they did that.













The final level is Lando in the Millennium Falcon off to destroy the Death Star. And this is where it gets real, since right off the bat, the two X-Wings accompanying you are destroyed and you're tailed by a TIE Fighter you either have to shake off or hope it crashes into one of the protruding beams.













But after shaking one, another quickly takes its place and you have to avoid it AS WELL AS the beams in your way, which you have to quickly maneuver your ship to fit through the narrow gaps. If one pixel of your ship touches the sides, you die...













And after you've blown up the main reactor, guess what? YOU GET TO FLEE THE EXPLOSION! And not only are you going faster and more centered on the screen, giving you less time to react, but you have an angry wall of fire behind you, which will gladly consume you if you accidentally reverse the Falcon!













This one part can easily drain every single life you've accumulated in no time!

Oh, and there's one life bank across all levels. Whatever you have in the previous level carries over to the next. There are extra lives that randomly spawn in each level, but they're hard to come by and even harder to pick up while also dodging everything else you have to contend with! So if you have 0 lives at this point, you're doomed...













And your reward for completing this game? You get to play it all over again! With 400 points added to your score! ...But at this point, you're probably pumped and a pro at dodging everything, so, hey, go for it!













This game is a lot of fun. It's arguably the hardest, but it just has the most immersion to it. It's based on an arcade game, and even though it's built from the ground up with different graphics and mechanics, you can still tell it's a port. The quick reflexes, the varied levels, the unrelenting difficulty in its short levels, all really get you pumped and make you feel like you're actually standing in front of an arcade cabinet. It's not as good as the original(and it's a shame we never got a decent port of that game), but it's a good take.













Though it needed an Ewok massacre stage...













And finally, let's talk about Lightsaber Duels. The main feature. The biggest and most surprising game on here. The one that I think they wanted to dedicate the entire console to, but they had a few other games produced, so they just crammed those others in as well. The most unique game I've played so far on a Plug n Play console. ...How do I even begin...?














So in 1997, Lucasarts produced a fighting game called Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. It's a pretty mediocre fighter, with an outdated engine even for the time, unbalanced characters(just get a character with a long range weapon), pretty bad controls, and the fact that a lot of these characters had skills and weapons that could have guaranteed them victory if they were pitted together in the movies, so they were insultingly nerfed and dumbed down for "fairness"(the "lightsaber" is basically just a glow-in-the-dark baseball bat.)


















And that was it for fighting games based on Star Wars. Besides a few characters appearing in Soulcalibur IV, it was decided that pitting Jedi Luke and Slave Leia together was pretty stupid...













But it seems that Lucasfilm decided to give the fighting game genre one more shot, since Lightsaber Duels is an actual, for serious one-on-one fighting game! ...Do you know how rare that is to see in Plug n Play consoles?!


















The only other fighting game on a Plug n Play console I've come across is one on a Dragon Ball Z console(coming soon to this blog.) But since it's Dragon Ball Z, that's not as much of a surprise.


















There's also a Mortal Kombat dedicated console, but since it's a direct port of the arcade and not an original game, I'm not counting that. Lightsaber Duels is the most unexpected game I've ever seen on one of these consoles!













And not only is it the only other fighting game based on the Star Wars Universe, but I also think it's the best! I mean, it doesn't exactly have the strongest competition, but I think they actually put more thought into an obscure Plug n Play game than a hyped, standalone console game!













First of all, it's called Lightsaber Duels, meaning the roster is comprised of Jedi and Sith. It makes a LOT more sense to use lightsabers in that context than to have a "who would win?" scenario between Chewbacca and a heavily handicapped Darth Vader. It evens out the playing field and actually makes me believe these characters are on the same tier. ...It has Luke fighting Obi-Wan to the death, but the distinctions of ally and enemy don't exist in fighting games anyway, so eh.













Secondly, it's two-dimensional. That might NOT sound like an improvement over a three-dimensional game they made nearly a decade previously, but with how poorly that game controlled and how much less of a budget they had to make this game, I think making it 2D made the controls a lot less complicated and much more fluid. I feel like I'm playing an actual modern fighting game and not a reskinned version of Virtua Fighter.













Third, the characters are more balanced. As I mentioned, the fighters in Teras Kasi were painfully unbalanced, especially when characters had a longer or projectile weapon. But here, I feel like everyone has a strength and weakness. One could have weak attacks, but a strong Force attack. Another could have the Force meter fill up quickly, but have the weakest Force attack. Unlike a game like Bikini Bottom 500, where all the characters are programmed the exact same way and it's more how you handle the course than what attributes you have, I feel like they gave each character a lot of thought and what strengths and weaknesses.













Fourth, MUCH better control. Teras Kasi was released before the Dualshock, meaning no analog control. As most people who have played fighting games with digital controls can probably relate, using a directional pad makes the game feel clunky, unresponsive, and unnatural. These games are meant to be played with joysticks that give you tight control of your fighter. And even though the controller on this Plug n Play console isn't true analog, it emulates it pretty well and makes it feel like how a fighting game is supposed to function. ...For the most part. Jumping in a certain direction is a problem most fighting games, including this one, share...

I have a few other points about how this is superior to the PS1 game, but I'm starting to get off track. My point is that they've managed to create a fun, playable, well thought-out game that outdoes the home console version and really shows that restrictions aren't always... restrictions.

Now before you think I'm giving this game too much credit... it's still a Plug n Play game. As fighting games go, this is pretty bare bones. The character roster is limited to 4(with the latter 3 needing to be unlocked by playing the previous one's scenario), there's no stage selection, no opponent selection, no single battles, a very limited moveset, and it's missing other various options most fighting games are known for(time limit set, online play, unlockable bonus features, minigames, secret levels and bosses, etc.) ...And those aren't even the major problems with this game. I'll get to those in due time, but for now, let's actually look at how it plays.













Starting with Luke, the only playable character at the beginning, he's the most "average" character. His attack, blocking skills, Force charge, etc. all just seem well-rounded. The best character to help you get the hang of things.

So fighting games aren't exactly known for their deep enriching stories(with the possible exception of Mortal Kombat), but I don't think they even gave this game a backstory. As far as I can tell, each Jedi/Sith fights the other Jedi and Sith in 8 different battles that loosely tell their story across the original trilogy. So for Luke, it's:
  1. (Death Star)Obi-Wan, who started Luke's training
  2. (Death Star)Darth Vader, after he killed Obi-Wan
  3. (Dagobah)Darth Vader again, or rather, the illusion of Darth Vader that Luke comes across in the Dagobah cave.
  4. (Dagobah)Luke Skywalker, whose image appears to Luke under Darth Vader's helmet after he seemingly kills Vader in the cave.
  5. (Cloud City)Darth Vader in the confrontation in Cloud City, where the famous "I AM your father" line is uttered.
  6. (Cloud City)Obi-Wan, who appears to an angry, disappointed Luke after the revelation(and after he told him Vader killed his father.)
  7. (Death Star II)Darth Vader again, during the climatic battle on the Death Star where he is crippled by Luke
  8. (Death Star II)Emperor Palpatine, who tries to kill Luke after he refuses his offer of joining him
And, like I said, there's no opponent selection or single battles. You play this lineup on repeat, so if you want to practice with one character before you actually challenge him, then tough luck buddy...













If you've ever played a fighting game, especially an old-school fighting game, you know how the controls work. The joystick moves the character around, pushing up makes him jump into the air, and the A and B buttons perform a light and heavy attack, respectfully. And pushing the joystick in the opposite direction of where he's looking blocks attacks. It's the joy of fighting games. Easy to learn, hard to master. It's all in how you combine these buttons and how quickly you react. ...And I'm terrible at fighting games, so I'm surprised I managed to complete this... But I did!













I discovered that each character has a certain attribute that can practically guarantee victory if found and exploited. In Luke's case, he has the best air attack. Pushing Up and the heavy attack button causes him to jump and forcefully swing his lightsaber down. And strangely, most of the time, the opponent is powerless to do anything. He'll block often, but just keep attacking and, as long as you vary it up a bit when the opponent starts getting smart, you'll probably win. Won't get any time bonuses, but that's the strategy that worked best for me.













Also, master Luke's special attack: Force Speed. It's an insanely powerful attack that can drain half the opponent's health and leave him dazed for a second, but it can easily be wasted if the opponent is in the wrong place or they attack you before you land a blow.













But no matter what you do, Emperor Palpatine is a cheating sonnova. He has both a standard spinning attack that's near unblockable, and his Force Lightning, which drains your life and leaves you open for another attack. And it's not helped that his Force meter fills up the fastest and whenever he strikes, so stay out of range as much as possible.













But when you see an opening, ATTACK! Be relentless! Give in to the Dark Side just long enough to deliver a can of whoop-ass to the Emperor's turtle-skin face! ...Then back away and play it safe until there's another opening. Repeat until the Emperor has disintegrated and the galaxy is safe! ...For about 30 years before the next Reich emerges and the whole thing starts all over again...














Also, nice touch having the emperor sitting on his throne during the penultimate battle against Darth Vader, then having the throne empty when it's his turn to throw down. I love it when attention is paid to little details like that.













After you've completed Luke's campaign, Darth Vader is unlocked. He seems to be the strongest fighter, but the slowest in attack speed and weakest in defense. Makes sense for an organization that believes in power and aggression above all things.

Again, I think his levels correspond to certain events he went through in the series, but much more loosely than Luke's:

  1. (Death Star)Luke, since he felt his presence first
  2. (Death Star)Obi-Wan, whom he killed on the Death Star
  3. (Cloud City)Obi-Wan ... because he's trying to fight off memories of his past?(which reminds me of a REALLY good Star Wars Tales story where Darth Vader comes across the blasted remains of C-3PO during his time in Cloud City and flashes back to first finding the android and repairing him, but eventually represses those memories. ...But I digress.)
  4. (Cloud City)Luke, during the battle where he announces he's Luke's father
  5. (Dagobah)The spiritual battle between Luke and Vader(which should have happened BEFORE Cloud City)
  6. (Dagobah) Darth Vader... because.
  7. (Death Star II)Luke, the final battle between father and son
  8. (Death Star II)Emperor Palpatine, since Darth Vader lands the final blow against the tyrant.












One difference immediately apparent with Vader, especially after playing as Luke, is that he doesn't have the same air attack that Luke does. Instead, his air attack attacks in the AIR, so if Luke or Obi-Wan try to perform their air slice, you can jump up and slash them before they complete their action. For Vader knows their every move...













Also, being a Sith, he gains Force power from attacking his enemies, even if they block. Unlike Jedi, where the blocker gains Force power. So wail on them as much as possible without getting hit.













But the major difference with this character is that since he's slower and with less constitution(I mean, Vader technically IS an old man weighed down by a ton of life-saving equipment), he's a little harder to play as. His heavy attacks are easily avoidable, his light attacks are blockable, and characters like Luke can quickly pull off their Force Speed when Vader tries to move away. So getting anywhere with Vader surprisingly takes a few tries.













However, Vader also has a secret strategy. Just keep tapping the heavy attack button while pushing in the opposite direction on the joystick and he'll unleash a volley of blows that the computer opponent will often not be able to counter, then leap back before the opponent can strike.













Combine with Vader's Telekinesis whenever possible, which is unblockable and can only be avoided if the other jumps at the right time, repeat ad nauseam, and you'll breeze through Vader's campaign in no time. For after all...






























Oh, and one of the best parts of this game is that they've included digitized quotes from the movie for each fighter! So you not only get to hear Vader's breathing, but Luke saying things like "I have a bad feeling about this" and Obi-Wan telling us that he's "getting too old for this sort of thing", among quite a few other quotes! They're only randomly spoken at the beginning of combat and the characters are silent for the rest of the battle, save for the sounds of swinging lightsabers and the occasional Vader breathing, but it's always nice when they include ACTUAL speech in a Plug n Play game! ...And trust me, it's RARE! ...Even though most of the games I've shown you so far have had it. ...Disregard this lucky streak and appreciate the majesty of having speech in these games!













Anyway, after Vader's torn up the arena, Obi-Wan gets a chance to shine. ...And this is where the game gets... NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE!

Obi-Wan's level order is arranged like so:
  1. (Dagobah)Emperor Palpatine
  2. (Dagobah)Obi-Wan
  3. (Death Star)Luke Skywalker
  4. (Death Star)Darth Vader
  5. (Cloud City)Luke Skywalker
  6. (Cloud City)Darth Vader
  7. (Death Star II)Darth Vader
  8. (Death Star II)Emperor Palpatine
I'm not going to bother interpreting the level progression here or the next one, since I was already stretching with Darth Vader's level choices, and it just seems random from here on out. ...But if the significance of his level progression is the thing you're most concerned about, then I'd encourage you to stop smoking death sticks and go home and rethink your life...













This is the part where Obi-Wan REALLY shows his age, as he is the weakest in most attributes. The weakest attack, the weakest defense, the slowest in speed, and without most of the special attacks I've found with the previous two. Or at least, he has the hardest to figure out special attacks, since only rarely did I find a button combination that set off a combo attack. ...And then I was so excited to find one, I completely forgot what the combination was!





He probably has a long list of special attacks, but the list of moves for all characters is contained in the manual, which I don't have. And since a sealed copy of this game is rarer than a competent Davis Entertainment movie and nobody has scanned the manual because nobody knows or cares that this game exists, I probably never will find out...

But yes, you can give up on your hopes of completing Obi-Wan's campaign as quickly as the past two. ...Or even at all, if you're the kind who has a life and doesn't feel like spending HOURS playing a Plug n Play console, hoping to beat it. ...Which is probably most of you... ...I envy you...













Instead, expect to spend the better part of your day trying to figure out just WHAT Obi-Wan CAN do! Trying to attack usually results in the opponent beating you to the punch, it's hard to jump with him, he can barely take any blows, and his Force power charges SLOWLY... You may be so pumped after playing as Darth Vader that you'll luck out and complete the majority of the levels just by mindlessly and rapidly tapping the buttons, but trust me when I say that you're going to die.













 And die.













 And die.













 And die.













 And die.













 And DIE!













And none of this is helped by the fact that Emperor Palpatine is the FIRST opponent you fight, meaning you can easily die on the FIRST ROUND!













Oh, and when you die, you start all over from the title screen.

...You start ALL. OVER. AGAIN! FROM THE BEGINNING! No continues. No extra lives. None of the stuff that other fighting games give you to retry the current fight. When you lose a round, even if it's the final round, the game is over and you start from Round 1 to begin everything anew...



















In fact, I want to show you something. This is the game's article at the Plug n Play TV Games Wiki, which is one of the few other sites that talks about these consoles in detail. And while each of the other games have several paragraphs devoted to them, detailing power-ups, strategies, level layouts, and trivia, this boxed area right here, THIS is the most anyone has ever written about Lightsaber Duels! No strategies, no special moves list, NOTHING! I can't even find a complete playthrough on YouTube! I don't think anyone has even played this game for more than an hour, and this is probably the level responsible for people throwing away their consoles in rage!













Trust me when I say you're going to see this screen a LOT! And that this is your face when you've seen it for the 23rd time in 10 minutes:


















This is the first Plug n Play game to actually INFURIATE ME, and the first that I couldn't complete in one sitting! I could only play this part for 20-30 minutes at a time before I had to get up and SCREAM, then take a break for a few hours before I had calmed down enough to continue. You have NO idea how many times I wanted to throw this game across the room and into my brand new 4K TV! ...Which was probably the only deterrent I had from doing it...













And this is one of the reasons why this post took so long to write. It got so bad, I actually began to AVOID this game. I was AFRAID to pick it up and play it again! I mean, I play Spelunky. I've died on that game over 2000 times, and I STILL haven't beaten it, but at least it's randomized and gives you surprises and new things to focus on each time. This is the same monotonous level combination over. And over. And over. And over. And over. And OVER! If it wasn't for my dedication and urge to complete every game I want to show you guys, I probably would have just ended the video there and admitted defeat! ...But against my better judgement, I pressed on, determined to either beat it or die trying. ...And if the size that vein in my head got was any indication, I think I was close to the latter...













At some point, I just gave up trying to rail on the other fighter and started actively avoiding him, steering clear of most of his stronger attacks and blocking his weaker ones. And since you're a Jedi, blocking attacks charges your Force meter as much as landing blows does.













So I just kept blocking, only attacking occasionally, until my meter was full, then I unleashed Obi-Wan's devastating and unblockable Force Push, which takes out a good chunk of the opponent's health and sends him flying to the other side of the screen! That seemed like the best strategy, so that's what I recommend to complete most of the fights.













With this in mind, the other fighters become a lot easier. However, the opponent you REALLY want to look out for in Obi-Wan's campaign is Luke. Since he's a Jedi, he blocks most of your attacks, which charges up his Force meter. And if you don't catch on quickly and allow it to reach maximum, when he unleashes that on you, you're as good as dead. So attack sparingly and let HIM attack YOU so you can block and reach YOUR Force potential first.













But even with all that, it's going to take a LOOONG time and a LOT of luck to get to the end and beat the Emperor. What you see in the video is the result of roughly FOUR hours off-and-on to FINALLY land the killing blow and wipe out the dark side for good!













When I saw this screen, I cried! I WEPT tears of joy that this torment was FINALLY over and I would NEVER have to control a geriatric Buddhist space-wizard in a tournament fighter ever again!


















And then I went out and smashed the first copy of Star Wars: Obi-Wan I could find. ...Not because of what I just went through, but because it's a terrible game.













So after the pain that was Obi-Wan's path to failure, Emperor Palpatine's campaign was a walk in the park!

His level set goes like this:
  1. (Death Star)Obi-Wan
  2. (Death Star)Luke Skywalker
  3. (Cloud City)Luke Skywalker
  4. (Cloud City)Obi-Wan
  5. (Dagobah)Obi-Wan
  6. (Dagobah)Emperor Palpatine
  7. (Death Star II)Luke Skywalker
  8. (Death Star II)Darth Vader
Again, the order doesn't seem to correlate to anything in the series like the first two arguably did. ...But I like to think that this was all in the Emperor's head right before he hit the bottom of the reactor shaft.













When you take control of the dark emperor himself, he has only average attack and weak defense, but he's the fastest and his Force meter charges the quickest.













Which is especially evident by how you can just push the joystick in the direction of your opponent and press B to deliver a near-unblockable spinning attack! FINALLY, you can take all the pain and suffering that the fighters in this game inflicted on you and dish it out TENFOLD!













And when your Force meter is charged, you can unleash Force Lightning on the other fighter. It doesn't inflict much damage, but it stuns the opponent long enough to spin attack into them and unleash a barrage of lightsaber blows before they realize what's going on! Cause you're the Emperor, buddy!













...But don't get too cocky, kid. It can still take a bit of practice to avoid the other's blows and time your attacks to hit. Especially since Skywalker's Force Rush is still a thing...













Still, with everything you've already gone through and the fact that you've probably played this game for so long, you've symbiotically bonded to it by this point, you're more than likely going to breeze through this campaign without a care in the world and crush that Rebel scum before any conscious thought returns to your head! And if it does become frustrating, just imagine they're telling you that you have lost. Then you can retort with renewed vim and vigor:













And that, ladies and gentlemen, Wookiees and Bothans alike, is the Star Wars Original Trilogy Plug n Play game console! One of the most surprising consoles I've ever seen! Not only did they make a vertically-scrolling shooter that rivals a lot of other shooters that I've played, not only did they create graphics that are indistinguishable from most other sprite-based games of the time, but they pooled their resources into making the best Star Wars fighting game ever made! I mean, it's not the best fighting game out there, even the original Mortal Kombat has it beat in more than one area, but for a console like this and compared to previous efforts to create a fighting game based on Star Wars, it's fantastic! ...And I think that's the best word to sum up this entire console.


















 The Original Trilogy will be with you. ...Always!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Design: The design is very detailed and accurate to what it's representing: the Millennium Falcon. They've included every wire, every groove, every port, everything that makes that "piece of junk" special and distinct. And making the joystick the hilt of a lightsaber was a really nice touch as well! I guess my only minor nitpick is that, after seeing what they could do with the Scooby-Doo console, it would have been interesting to have a picture or even a small model in the gunner's cockpit or for the lightsaber to light up during gameplay. Still, it's definitely an eye-catching design, and if I was to see one of these at a Walmart or some used game store, I would want to stop and see what it is. In fact, this is one of the first consoles I've come across that could actually double for a toy model with a few adjustments! ...Just make sure that the console is actually broken before you start cutting wires and disassembling controls...






Controls: Again, we have a console that returns to arcade/Atari roots with a joystick and two large buttons on the side. It's still digital like most other consoles, but it's the closest to analog control we've had on this blog, with the joystick having a wide range of movement and a number of buttons to determine direction! ...However, because the joystick still needs to touch the buttons inside to trigger movement, it can get tricky and slow to control, especially when it's touching the button to go right when you're trying to go up-and-right. It's especially apparent during Lightsaber Duels when you're trying to jump or pull off a combo/Force attack, which can make things frustrating in a game requiring fast reflexes and button mashing. Still, I love the feeling of actual arcade-style controls and they're accurate most of the time, so I'd say these are some of the best controls we've had on this blog!






Music & Sound: The sound, for the most part, is pretty basic. Just laser shots, lightsaber sounds, and explosions. There's not a wide range of sound, but I can recognize it as it does sound like they recorded these sounds in real life and digitized them to fit on this console, as opposed to producing them electronically and Atari-style, so I do detect effort. Also, huge points for including spoken quotes for each character in Lightsaber Duels! I nerdgasm every time one of these consoles has dialog! As for the music, I think what they included is great! ...I just wish there was more of it. The Star Wars Theme and Imperial March sound beautiful on the menu screens, like they were actually orchestrated and compressed to fit on here, but that just makes it jarring when the games themselves are completely silent! Why couldn't we have had something playing in the background of the games? Something to get us pumped and excited to keep going and blast as many targets in our way as we could? It really hurts the gameplay when a lot of awesomeness is going on onscreen, but there's nothing in the background to emphasize it...






Graphics: The graphics are BEAUTIFUL! Not as good as the hand-drawn animation of Grand Puzzleventure, but you can tell that they put a lot of effort into making each sprite as clear and detailed as possible, with as many frames of animation as this console would allow. I think the game with the best design and animation is the Red Leader game, followed by Lightsaber Duels. It's just so impressive to have top-tier SNES or GBA graphics in this console, especially since, as we've seen with previous games, they can easily cheap out and not care. I guess if I had to complain, they culd have made it a LITTLE bit better. Have things happening in the background of the Lightsaber Duels, show scrolling layers in Red Leader, make some things look like polygonal 3D, things like that to give it that 16-bit system touch. But I don't know if they could have done that and it's more what I'd LIKE to see than what they've done, and I think what they've done is phenomenal.






Gameplay: As with most consoles with multiple games, my opinion of the gameplay is mixed depending on each game. But in this case, there's not as much variation and I think all games scored very high on the fun-o-meter. Red Leader was FANTASTIC, one of the best vertical space shooters I've ever played! I thought the power-ups were helpful, the enemies were varied and fair, the levels introduced something new every time, and the difficulty curve wasn't too steep. It was hard, but in a way I felt I could adapt along with it, as opposed to becoming too monotonous or frustratingly difficult. Assault on Hoth wasn't my thing, but it was an above average tower defense game. The controls were simple, the objectives were basic, and I felt like it had an equal balance between attacking and defending, without a whole lot of "comeoncomeoncomeoncomeoncomeon" waiting for things to shoot or recharge. Battle of Endor was ambitious, trying really hard to replicate an arcade game and feel while also doing its own thing. The depth perception wasn't that good and a lot of the obstacles felt like they were coming up too quickly to avoid, but it was addicting and really challenged my reflexes and how high I could get my score, as any arcade game should be! But Lightsaber Duels, by far, BLEW everything else out of the water. It was a genre that's very rarely tackled outside of mainstream gaming, the characters each had their own strengths and weaknesses, there's a wide variety of moves and strategies to try out, and the character selection and movie quotes really helped to give it variety and a feeling of immersion. ...Even if some of the levels were STUPEFYINGLY DIFFICULT AND MADE ME WANT TO THROW THE CONSOLE THROUGH A WALL! ...But everything was enjoyable and made me want to keep playing, and for a Plug n Play console, that equates to incredible.






Replay Value: The games on this console all have a very arcade feel to them. They're fun, they're addicting, they keep and save scores, and they encourage you to keep playing. And because of their difficulty curves, they don't feel too monotonous and make you feel you're being challenged and getting better as a result! Heck, some of the games actually FORCE you to come back and play them again due to their difficulty! ...Though the one thing that keeps me from giving this category full points is something I'm sure you have been waiting for me to point out: NO 2-PLAYER OPTION! Games this awesome should have some sort of competitive mode, especially the fighting game! Playing solo is fun, but you eventually want to show off your skills by challenging your friends! It's this omission that brings the replay value down a bit. However, it's still a really fun collection that I wouldn't mind coming back to.






Overall:







Yes, the first perfect 5/5 on this blog for a Plug n Play console(I've just been handing these ratings out like candy lately, haven't I?) I LOVE the games on here! They control very well, they're challenging, they're well made, and they're a LOT of fun! It's another example of a company that didn't have to do anything major that instead smashed through the barriers and put their all into a game nobody would play. If you can find this game, GRAB IT! It's fun for kids, it's fun for adults, it's fun for boys and girls, men and women, Droids and Hutts alike! I can't recommend it enough, so find it and may the force be with you!

And that's all I have to say about that.


















 ...Oh... right... Quickie review next!