Star Wars Super Bombad Racing
In an apparent attempt to make Jar Jar Binks a more popular character in the Star Wars universe, LucasArts endowed his racing vehicle with a high top speed and medium mass. Alas, his appeal still ranked low with this reviewer. All kidding aside, Super Bombad Racing is an impressive and surprisingly fun kart-style racing game.
Super Bombad Racing allows players to get a little goofy with characters from Episode 1. Using cunning, wits, shortcuts, and gadgets, the sparks will fly as you battle it out in five different racing venues. Gasp in awe as Darth Maul, knocks you for a loop. Shriek with delight as Master Yoda uses the force to slow down Sebulba and throw your controller when Jar Jar wins the race forcing you to hear his annoyingly accurate voice.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Super Bombad Racing (SBR) is a racing game in the loosest sense of the term. All the characters have grossly disproportioned heads and the feel of the game is definitely fun yet quirky. Since this is a kart racer it's important to mention that you will not be racing karts. Instead, you race miniature versions of the spaceships that appear in the movie. Darth Maul flies his Sith interceptor, Anakin flies a yellow Naboo fighter, and Boss Nass flies one of the underwater ships seen floating around his city. Attention to vehicle detail was done pretty well considering the ships are eclipsed by the characters' massive hulking heads.
Controls are fairly simple with the addition of selecting which view you prefer (closer to the ground or a pulled back 3rd person view). I preferred the 3rd person view as it allowed me to see the other racers who were flying alongside me. Another thing of note was the addition of mass to the racing vehicles. There is a definite varying feel to the racers due to their mass -- specifically the handling and the collisions with other racers. Darth Maul is a heavier racer who has an easier time running into others, whereas it is best to avoid contact if you are racing as Queen Amidala. All racers are controlled differently and it's important to familiarize yourself with several of them since that is easiest way to unlock all of the courses.
The first race takes place in the Naboo swamp. After several losses with various characters I found it was easiest to use Obi-Wan because in the movie he navigated the swamp quickly. Likewise, when I raced in the Podrace level, I kicked butt as Sebulba since he flew an actual podracer. Each time I placed in the top three, I unlocked the next race. Trying to figure out which character was best suited for each course using the movie as a reference was a guilty pleasure, as it was not that hard but left me smirking.. Sadly, my sole first place finish was racing as Jar Jar in the underwater course. Jar Jar aside, the constant changing of the racers was a highlight for me as I enjoyed finding out which racer handled the environments the best. As fun as that was, here's where the real challenge lies: try racing as Boss Nass in his watership in the desert town of Mos Espa AND finishing in the top three, or some other non-related character/race. I tried some of these 'fish out of water' type races and got beat silly.
As in all kart racers, there are many different power-ups to be found, some acted as homing weapons while others are traps that will spring up on any racer following you too closely. It was here I found my first small complaint. Some of the power-ups looked remarkably like one another, specifically the yellow colored power-ups. After much play I could differentiate between them but with the 70 gazillion colors the PS2 is supposed to be able generate, one would think that the programmers could have come up with vastly different colored icons, even if there were 25 of them.
Other games available to play on SBR are: Arena, where contestants battle it out trying to destroy the others' shields without being destroyed themselves -- there are five different arenas and all of them contain traps and other shield damaging obstacles. Teams, which pits two or four actual players against one another. Challenge, which loads any saved past race and gives you the opportunity to try to beat the opponent saved to that specific race. And finally, Race Mirrors, which is actually the same as the original race game but allows you to race it reversed. I primarily played the basic Race mode and the Arena mode, these two provided the most entertainment.
SBR can handle 1, 2 or 4 players. Racing is split screen on four corners, so hopefully you've got a big TV. I tried playing against my wife but promptly got creamed and insisted we stop for fear of embarrassment.
Lastly, I feel it's important to mention that this game is a perfect family game. Nobody gets killed or hurt and the emphasis is on winning and fun. As an adult I was a bit annoyed with some of the corny things the characters did when they won the race. Sadly, Obi-Wan does the classic break dancing move, the wave... ouch. Either way, LucasArts made a game for the broadest appeal.
Graphics were done pretty well. While not on par for its PS2 predecessor Star Wars Starfighter, the rendered environments and accurate faces more than prove this is a next gen video game. I must say that the races all were varied and looked good with their bright colors and Star Wars quirks. The first time you get smacked by the Sarlaac in the Carkoon arena you will be reminded of Return of the Jedi. Either way, the graphics were more than adequate and framerate never experienced any lag.
It's here I'm a bit mixed. Jake Lloyd, the actual actor from Phantom Menace reprises his role as Anakin's voice, but the speaking was barely audible. Whether it was Darth Maul speaking menacingly or Yoda firing off a 'Slow are you? Hmmm.'? I really had to strain to hear them. So why would they go to the trouble of getting the original Anakin voice?
Action sounds were done well, from the hum of podracers to the blasts of laser fire. A blind man could walk into the room and know instantly that whatever was on the TV had to do with Star Wars.
Well, it's definitely one of the better Star Wars games I've ever played and, given the fact that George Lucas keeps approving the licensing to make these games, I'd say we're due for a really phenomenal game any day now. But in the mean time, SBR is a great family game and surprisingly challenging for all levels of game players. A must buy for any Star Wars fan or kart lover. For the rest of us it's an excellent weekend rental.
Download Star Wars Super Bombad Racing
When LucasArts' top brass announced their first Episode I titles last year, they said to expect future games in every conceivable genre. They weren't kidding. Super Bombad Racing--due this fall-drops Jar Jar, Sebulba, Yoda and five other Star Wars personalities into a Mario Kart-inspired race set in far-flung locales from that galaxy far, far away.