Title: Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer
Official Site: Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer website
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Available On: Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4
Version Tested: Switch
The new podracing game for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 is a remake of the original game’s release on Nintendo 64. Titled Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer, it featured a multitude of courses, planets, and racers. With the game’s new release for the Switch and PS4, we look at what is the same, what is different, and if it has stood the test of time.
Concept & Gameplay
The game features a simple concept. You race your way through various courses to unlock more content. It features various modes, such as a free play, two-player, and a tournament mode. The tournament mode is the goal if you want to continue to progress in the game. There is not much in terms of story as it is a racing-focused game. But that is all it needs.
The controls are simple enough. You get to have a “boost” of speed but if you hold it too long, you can damage your podracer’s engines. Your engines can also be damaged by hitting walls or ramming other racers. If this happens too often, your pod can catch fire. You are able to hold a button down to repair the engine but at a cost of speed and dexterity.
To continue to unlock new content, you must place in one of the top ranks of the race. Only then can you unlock the next race. In terms of controls, the pods are extremely responsive and handle well around the tight corners. This is definitely an upgrade from the Nintendo 64 version of 1999. Corners were more difficult to maneuver then, and there were glitches where just tapping a wall would result in your pod blowing up.
Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer Tracks
The highlight of Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer, is certainly the tracks. They take place on a variety of planets, from well-known ones like Tatooine, to ones less known such as the jungle invested Baroonda. The racetracks are separated by level of difficulty, ranging from Amateur to Invitational. Some planets will repeat across different levels of difficulty, but with more intense and dynamic racetracks.
Some highlights of these racetracks are the Aquilaris stages, featuring tracks that go in and out of underwater tunnels. A player with a keen eye will see signature Star Wars creatures swim by, such as the Opee Sea Killer. The snowy Howler Gorge features a ramp over a massive drop that sends your pod flying through the air. The Executioner stage takes players through a dark, industrial-like complex with multiple anti-gravity tunnels and sliding doors.
There is such a variety of locations in Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer that you will never get bored of the tracks. Of course, this game wouldn’t be complete without The Boonta Classic on Tatooine. You can play a shortened version of it as your very first race, or the full version as the very last, excluding the Invitationals.
The Star Wars Upgrades
From 1999 to 2020, there are a number of upgrades. As mentioned before, the pods handle more smoothly, and the technical glitches that resulted in exploding pods have been fixed. The graphics are certainly better, as is expected. There are more cut scenes before and after races, showing off the planet and racetracks in more detail. They have also added more of an intro to the start of the game, along with your standard Star Wars scrolling text.
Overall, they addressed the issues that needed it while not taking away from the core of what made the game great, to begin with. They have kept the controls while refining them and kept the simplicity of the game while enhancing the fun and dynamic locations.
Final Thoughts On This Star Wars Game
Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer is a classic, excellent Nintendo game that has very little wrong with it. It is also released on the PlayStation 4, which the original was not available on a PlayStation system. There are multiple racers to choose from, each with their own unique style. The racetracks are unique and interesting.
But the game gets more personal for me. It was the first video game I was given as a child with our brand new Nintendo 64 system. My little sister and I played it for hours and hours as we were obsessed with Star Wars. We continued to play the game through our teenage years and I still play the Nintendo 64 version to this day. Now that I own it on the Switch, that will certainly be my platform of choice. But this game has a great heart to it. You build memories racing. When you play so consistently, you learn each racer and know them by their style, their pod, and even their flag. You learn all the shortcuts on courses. And you have your favorites you return to when looking for an adrenaline rush.
All in all, Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer is a truly fantastic game. It has stood the test of time, and it will continue to be fun for many years in the future.
Verdict: This is a solid racing game with excellent replayability. It will keep you entertained over and over again with its dynamic tracks and variety of racers.
- Responsive controls
- Excellent replayability
- Dynamic racetracks
- No in-game control prompts
- Button assignments aren't too user-friendly