Yes, we’re reviewing it on Nintendo DS rather than a ‘bigger’ console version. We’ve liked the look of this ever since the first shots were released; the limited geometry of the characters and environments seem to work in the DS’s favour. There was a bit of apprehension before putting the cart in the slot though: we’ve had our handheld fingers burnt before by the shoddy PSP conversion of Star Wars Battlefront II. Thankfully this fares a lot better.
Developers Amaze – not to be confused with Headhunter creators Amuze, as we initially did – have not only managed to pack in plenty of content and extras, but they’ve pushed the DS hard, as only Nintendo previously seemed able to. Some of the environments – like the spacecraft hanger in the hub – are huge, and the DS copes well with seven or so 3D characters on the screen at once. Any more than this though, and the frame rate takes a tumble. It’s a treat for the ears too: Chewbacca growls viciously when pulling arms off, R2-D2 beeps and whistles like he should, and in addition to the John Williams score there’s a fairly funky rendition of the Mos Eisley cantina music.
Content-wise there’s a sandcrawler, loads of unlockable playable characters, and a wealth of daft cheats including a disco mode and the ability to turn all the guns into walkie talkies. A nod and a wink in the direction of ET, there. Or perhaps South Park. If you played the console predecessor you’ll know that co-op play was a blast, so fortunately Amaze have included single card download play for up to four players.
The on-foot missions range from cutting up Tusken Raiders on Tatooine to shooting down Boba Fett on Jabba’s sail barge, and mostly entail locating new characters then using their skills to progress. Jedi can use the force to rebuild objects, pistol carriers can fire grappling hooks, and R2-D2 can fly over large gaps. Some characters have rather useless, if amusing skills – when in her painted-on metal bikini Princess Leia can do a little dance to send enemies into a trance. Puzzles also feature, and are mainly of the block shoving variety.
Then you’ve got the faster-paced vehicle missions, most of which are viewed from overhead. There’s the famous Death Star trench run, the speeder bike chase from Return of the Jedi, the chance to pilot an AT-ST on Endor, and destroying Imperial Walkers by binding their legs together. These missions are pretty short and easy, but like the main missions there are plenty of reasons to return. Each level has ten body parts to find in order to earn a new character, while on the missions without a Jedi in your party, if you return with one then you can open a few more doors and paths.
It’s about as challenging as a game with infinite lives can be, although in an ideal world it would still be in development. The last few levels don’t feel properly tested: on Endor there’s a series of tricky jumps which are a bugger to judge due the way the camera is positioned, and during the final battle with Vader the characters keep changing into a fuzz of pixels. We spotted a few other glitches as well – like walls vanishing – but fortunately we never had to restart a level as a result. You might say Amaze have ‘forced’ the DS a bit too hard. Chortle.