Jedi Power Battles


Review by Dan Mahlendorf



Graphics: 7

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 3

Overall: 3

There was a time when Lucasarts could do no wrong. The NES games were decent. The SNES games were pretty good. X-Wing, TIE Fighter & Dark Forces were awesome. Then something happened. I think it was greed, followed by a lack of quality control and any inkling of what's "fun".

Don't believe me? I give you Star Wars: Jedi Power Battles. Hell the title alone should send up red flag followed by a loud "whoop! whoop!" sound. This is the game in a nutshell: take Golden Axe, make it 3D (but keep the visual perspective), and replace background, bad guys, and characters from Episode 1 and mix. Now then displace any potential of fun out of the bowl by adding a locked camera, rotten AI, poor graphics, sloppy controls, and hideous jumping puzzles. And there you go.

What, that's not enough? Fine, but remember you asked for it. When you start the game you are given the option to pick your Jedi (which aren't very different from each other except for character model and lightsaber color) then you get the typical "A long time ago..." deal with the opening story to Episode 1. A nice, Flash style cinema that was reminiscent of something that could be done on a SNES told the story up to the point of play. Then we escape the gassed meeting room and play starts. You now have to hack your way through battle droids to get from mid-point to mid-point. While this may sound fun, it really isn't. Some droids will shoot while others go toe to toe with you, able to get cheap shots on you when you are swinging. It also seems strange that any video Jedi training your character received didn't include attacking while jumping and you have to stop from running in order to properly swing, otherwise there is a slight delay (enough to let a droid or two kick your tail in the process). Anyway you fight until you get to a mid point boss, then you continue but there are little “restart beacons” so you restart at that point when you buy it. To top off this glorious combat system, there is also gawd awful polygon clipping. Using the Sam L Jackson wannabe character, I was able to stab a battle droid THROUGH a wall AND floor when I picked up the Saber Extender power up, yet I can't hit bad guys when they are behind pillars. Riiiiight.

The next fun part comes up: the Jumping Challenge (cue echo effect on "enge"). If you thought the fighting was fun, you'll love this as much as a pencil to the ear. Since the camera is locked, you can get a good distance perspective of how far a gap is and you will plummet to you death. Often. Another fun thing with jumping is when you fall behind a wall or other obstacle, your character is obscured. Until you move or jump into view, you will not see your character. The only time there is some sort of indicator marker showing your character's whereabouts is when you jump too high off the top of the screen. The QA and beta testers must have all been Sith, because they are the only ones who would probably snicker and say “yeah, people will be able to play this.”

Okay, the game play stinks of Bantha poo doo, but what about the visuals? The graphics are pretty okay. Other than the polygon clipping, the graphics are crisp and animate well. Other than the effects of blasters and such, there isn't much else in the effect of graphical flash to really set the Dreamcast version apart other than it took advantage of the better hardware.

Controls, as I touched on above a little bit, are “okay”. The analog stick moves your Jedi in either a walk or a run. However, lay off the stick while running and your Jedi will skid. Actually, when you run about it seems as though your character is just floating. This floaty effect can kill when near ledges, even when you walk. The D pad can be used to move as well, but you just go at a walk's pace. Your buttons allow you to jump (double tap for a mid-air jump for more height), a horizontal slash, a vertical slash, and a type of stab. I don't have the instructions, but I think button combos allow you to use force powers and bombs. From what I can tell, there aren't a whole lot of weapon attacks you can pull off, which is sad considering games like Soul Reaver or even the original Golden Axe had some moves you can pull off easily. You also have to stop moving in order to attack. It's so 1989- is it against the Jedi code to slash while moving or are they afraid of slicing themselves in half? With the skid issue, your Jedi will slide before coming to a stop, which will allow you to strike which again opens you up to blaster fire or a one-two punch with a tin-can-hand. You can perform blocks by using the left trigger. It doesn't work well with melee attacks but if you pull the trigger when a blaster shot gets near you it will almost always reflect it back to its origin.

The best thing about this game, and with any Star Wars game, is the sound. The music is classic, the sound effects authentic- they never skimp in this department. You hear every saber swing, every blaster shot, droid sound, and Yoda's laughter when you pick up items (why, I don't know).

In closing, I cannot recommend this game unless you are out to complete your Dreamcast collection. The game isn't that fun, needs some SERIOUS improvements, and is a slap to the face of the SW franchise, though that seems to have been the theme in the past. Playing this must surely lead to the path of the Dark Side.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:27 PM