t’s a race unlike any other! Star Wars Episode l: Racer lets players take control of a podracer, speeding through flaming methane lakes, Tusken Raider assaults, anti-gravity tunnels, and much more in a pulse-pounding, do-or-die fight to the finish line.
Reviewed on: PS4 (Pro unit)
Also available for: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 64 (original release), PC (original release)
Cast: Jake Lloyd, Andy Secombe, Lewis Macleod
Developer: Aspyr, LucasFilm (original developer)
VP of Engineering & Technology: Jez Sherlock
Technical Director: Terry Goodwin
Programmers: Jonny Bolton, Ian James, Danny Noon
Originally released in 1999 for the Nintendo 64 and PC, Star Wars Episode 1: Racer has long been held high as one of the best Star Wars games amongst many fans, myself included. Even the sequels couldn’t achieve quite the same quality that this podracing game offered over twenty years ago. Now it’s available for Nintendo Switch and PS4 (where I played it) and although it’s not a complete 4K remake like the Crash and Spyro games, it’s a good port of a classic game from my childhood.
There’s no fancy story mode here, it’s simply a fun selection of tracks to race that range from the classic Tatooine circuit that’s seen in The Phantom Menace to new locations made specifically for the game. These include the ‘Abyss’ race on Orb Ilbanna, which is still the hardest race in the game as you speed across paths high in the sky with no barriers and one bad turn can end your chances of achieving first in an instance.
I haven’t played the game since I was a kid and playing Racers brought back lots of memories. One of which was never being able to beat the Abyss race so it was a crowning achievement to prove myself on that circuit, plus every other in the game and achieve the PSN Platinum trophy.
All up there are twenty-five races across eight different planets. Some planets get more than a couple circuits while Tatooine, for example, just features both a short and longer version of the same race that’s closer to how it plays out in the actual film.
Racing is as fun as I remembered. The sense of speed is still here and you’ll have to be paying attention at all times to avoid walls, rocks and all manner of objects that will send you to a fiery explosion.
The uprezzed original models and backgrounds all look surprisingly good. They obviously still show their age but it’s not distractingly ugly and instead offers that kind of classic charm you get from old Nintendo games.
Between races, you can either buy podracer parts from Watto directly or from his junkyard which has random, damaged parts. Buying solely from the junkyard is the way to go as you save a bunch of credits which you earn by racing, but not nearly enough to buy what you want fast enough directly from the overpriced Watto.
I did run into a few annoying bugs like clipping inside walls or getting stuck behind a rock and not being able to reset. Stuff that’s carried over from the original game. There’s also a limited amount of options and only two control schemes with no room for remapping. I don’t mind the new control scheme, but it does put drift on L2 where I’d prefer my break, and the ‘classic’ controller scheme just looked a bit like a nightmare.