Star Wars—Episode I: Racer

star wars racer and commando combo box art switch
7.5 Overall Score
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Controls: 7/10

Fun and nostalgia

So-so when compared to other similar racing games

Game Info

Game Name: Star Wars—Episode I: Racer

Developer(s):  LucasArts

Publisher(s):  LucasArts/Nintendo/Aspyr/THQ Nordic

Platform(s):  N64/GameBoy Color/Dreamcast/Switch/PS4/Xbox One/PC

Genre(s):  Racing

Release Date(s):  May 18, 1999 (PC/N64)/December 1999 (GameBoy Color)/April 4, 2000 (Dreamcast)/June 23, 2020 (Switch/PS4)/October 27, 2020 (Xbox One)

ESRB Rating:  E

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Now this is podracing!

The podracing circuit is grueling and deadly.  As Anakin Skywalker tries to rise through the ranks of podracing, he faces opposition from other equally desperate and hungry competitors.  The racing is intense and not everyone plays fair…winning could be the only thing standing between slavery and freedom!

Star Wars—Episode I:  Racer is a racing adventure game produced and released by LucasArts.  The game was released in conjunction with Star Wars—Episode I:  The Phantom Menace in 1999 and received mostly positive reviews.  The game was remastered and rereleased in 2020 by Aspyr and THQ Nordic and can often be found paired with Star Wars:  Rebel Commando.

When Star Wars—Episode I came out, the dreams of finally seeing another Star Wars movie can to fruition…and it was also seen as a marketing giant.  With strong numbers but a so-so reception, Star Wars—Episode I:  The Phantom Menace often was pointed to as a movie with a lot of low points, but the podracing scene was often seen as one of the high points of the film.  The version played for this review was the Switch edition.

star wars episode i racer graphics screenshots remastered

Rev those engines!

The energy does translate, but the game is not just competing with other Star Wars games but other racing games.  The player has multiple racers to choose from (though you feel bad not picking Anakin), and by winning races, you can upgrade the pods you have.  It isn’t revolutionary by any means.  The first podrace circuit feels like training wheels and is easily won (even by so-so racers like myself), but the difficulty begins to ramp up during the Semipro Podracing Circuit where it becomes a challenge…despite the twists and turns of the track, it feels like games like Mario Kart (or more specifically F-Zero) have more variety and fun with their tracks.

The controls are relatively smooth.  It does a nice job creating a “gliding” feel to the pods as they coast around the tracks.  There is some frustration with some finessing of the controls and even on the remake I found myself in a few places where my respawn left me stuck and unable to move on without resetting the race.

star wars episode i racer graphics gameplay screenshots

If you’re not first, you’re last (and dead)

The remastering of the game was an improvement.  The game isn’t a completely a modern game, but it is cleaned up.  The game still feels a bit digital and though the game is loaded with short cuts, it isn’t always easy to pick them out simply due to speed of the racing but also due to the level designs.

While I didn’t play Star Wars—Episode I:  Racer a lot and I never owned it, it is easy to pick-up, play, and enjoy.  There is the nostalgia factor (even for newbies), but the game is a decent racing game…though not a great racing game.  I like the improvements and I like some of the levels.  It becomes a question if you want to power through them or not since the game provides some variety but not a ton.  Just remember…This is podracing!!!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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