Now this is pod-racing…
It’s a line of dialogue from Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace that makes me shudder. Even the most diehard of Star Wars fans would probably concede these days that Episode 1 is not a great film. However, for all its flaws (and there are many) one of the most memorable moments involves pod-racing.
The hyper-fast racing event that Anakin Skywalker takes part in so the Jedi’s can win the parts to their ship and leave.
It’s a sequence that still holds up and the same year as the film was released, a game solely based on it was released for the N64. One that was well-received by fans and critics alike.
Just over 20 years later, in a surprising turn of events the game has been remastered and released on the Nintendo Switch. Costing $14.99/£12.29, the remastering is surprisingly solid and gameplay is still enjoyable.
Taking Anakin and a whole host of alien characters and dumping them in a pod-racing league. The goal is to reign supreme across the game’s many tracks. Choose a character and get ready for some breakneck speeds across some varied landscapes.
Depth comes from staying competitive as you progress through leagues. Winning earns you credits and these are spent on upgrading your pod-racer. You can add parts to increase your speed, acceleration, turning, air-braking and more. Something that becomes necessary as the game’s difficulty does increase heavily as you go on.
This port handles the speed well and the tracks are well designed. Everything has a sharpness to it but for a port of a 21-year-old game, it is done as well as it could be. However, there are some issues that begin to chip away at the overall quality.
The most noticeable being crackling music and sound effects and cut-scene cameras that clip through objects. These moments reminding you that you are playing a 21-year old game.
Flaws but not enough to ruin the experience. An experience that is all about speed and with the Switch’s great control scheme, you’ll feel like an actual pod-racer.
Star Wars Episode I: Racer