|Star Wars games just arent living up to their full
potential nowadays. Wheres the next Tie Fighter or Jedi Knight? Sure,
games like Rogue Squadron and Episode 1: Racer
were entertaining for a bit, but they lacked the pure excitement of the Star Wars movies. Lucas Arts, the publishers of all things Star
Wars, is still milking the franchise for all its worth and, hopefully, Star Wars: Star
Fighter will please the throngs of wanna-be Jedi.
Meanwhile, Star Wars: Battle for Naboo just aint cutting it. Oh, it tries with cool vehicle models and one of
the best MIDI soundtracks in PC games (really), but its true ancestry shows. Its a console port--a Nintendo 64 port, but
a port nonetheless. With marginal
improvements from its console brother, Battle of
Naboo doesnt even make it out of the hangar.
Battle for Naboo is based around the events in Star Wars Episode 1:
The Phantom Menace with an emphasis on the resistance on Naboo. While Qui Gon Jin and company are kicking back,
watching the pod race, and having a Bud, pilots on Naboo are trying to keep the evil Trade
Federation (headed by two aliens with bad Russian accents) at bay. You are Lieutenant Gavyn Sykes, young, hotheaded,
and Han Solo-ish, who needs to repel the Trade Federation at any cost. Youve got help, of course. Depending on the mission, you could have a single
wingman or a whole squadron. But ultimately,
youre on your own as you fly from mission to mission thwarting the Trade Federation
at every step.
Quite frankly, Battle for Naboos tediously boring. Sure, you have up to seven vehicles in the game,
but the game makes you stick to one vehicle on the majority of missions. You have an armament of proton torpedoes, but you
cant aim worth crap with them. There
are fifteen missions but only a few are any fun. What
it all comes down to is Battle for Naboo is
unoriginal and fails to give the player any sense of accomplishment.
Lets break it down. From mission one onward, you ride in various
vehicles, ranging from land speeders to star fighters to gunboats. Each vehicle handles differently than the next,
though the control scheme is the same. In
fact, all youll have to do is steer and shoot.
The throttle is of some use (its easier to pick your targets at slower
speeds) but, because of the arcade feel, simple controls are the rule. Control is sluggish overall, though, on all
vehicles. Piloting a Naboo fighter is fun,
fast, and furious but it controls like a 1960s Buick with hydraulics. All the vehicles have an insanely wide turning arc
that makes strafing runs a pain.
The vehicles themselves are fun to handle for a short while, but
theres no particular model that stands out as a favorite. Some are wimpy and fast; some are tough and slow. All of them are uninteresting and not just because
of the poor steering. Though the missions
often require one vehicle, you will have times when the game gives you a choice in
vehicles (do you prefer ground support to an air raid?
Hop into the land speeder), but it doesnt change the mission. You still shoot down the same old drones.
Mission objectives are pretty
run-of-the-mill. Start a mission and shoot
everything in sight until you get to where you need to be--which isnt always clear. Its pathetic, but youre better off
following the wingmen in your squadron if you get lost.
Usually radio chatter will alert you if youre in the right place. Occasionally, you get an assignment to protect
this ship or hijack this vehicle but youll spend most of your time gettin
trigger happy on your enemies.
Your foes range from pathetic battle droids to annoyingly
hard-to-hit star fighters. Fortunately, your
enemies have a low collective intelligence, so taking them out isnt too tough. Unfortunately, they have the advantage of numbers
so you cant expect to wipe out all the enemies.
In fact, its quite easy for you to get overwhelmed so its best
to keep moving. Enemies are easy to outrun
and you dont have to worry about ambushes. That
does mean you cant get a decent fight going, though.
For most of the game, youre in the Naboo star fighter but because of
your sluggish controls and your extremely agile enemies, you cant engage is in a
decent dogfight. Not that the enemies pose a
challenge but it would be cool if you could do barrel rolls or a tight turn to avoid the
The enemy AI relies on brute
force to take you and your squadron down. Occasionally,
youll be contacted by your wingmen to assist them when Federation fighters bog them
down. This adds a sense of realism to the
scenario--except if one of your pilots dies, you have to start the mission over. Fortunately, your wingmen can take care of
themselves for at least awhile until you can aid them.
One of the major acts of
mediocrity Battle for Naboo commits is its
unimpressive graphics. Absolutely boring
terrain awaits you as glide over the planet of Naboo.
It isnt the level design that gets to me; its actually pretty
well thought out with mountain ranges and valleys. Unfortunately,
the environment lacks detail. Theres
scarcely any trees or other flora around to break up the monotony. Perhaps for this reason the game runs very
smoothly with no noticeable bugs. There is
some draw-in but thats only for objects far off in the distance. The actual terrain (like mountains) can be seen
for what seems like miles. However, nothing
graphically innovative will be found in this game.
Most of the vehicles did not make an appearance in Phantom Menace, but their designs were kept within
the specifications of the Star Wars. In
other words, youll be piloting really weird looking ships. The various land speeders you often pilot look
like beefed-up versions of the ones you see Luke Skywalker piloting in the first Star
Wars. The two Naboo fighters, the long yellow
movie version and a police cruiser, are practically identical other than some color
change. Nice little effects like exhaust
from the engines adds a movie quality to the design.
Also, the fighters sport a nice chrome finish on the front-end of the wings. Other vehicles seem based off pre-established
movie vehicles such as the droid tank and the droid flying STAP.
Sound-wise, Battle for Naboo is exactly what I would ask from a
Stars Wars game. I would have loved to have
had a 3D surround to fully experience the sound effects.
And, man, what a sound! Star
fighters make that classic screeching sound every time they whiz by your vehicle, blaster
fire sizzles as it strikes your intended target, and the battle droids actually have radio
chatter in the same voices used in the movies. Speaking
of chatter, while most of the spoken dialogue is well acted, better catch phrases than
Trade Federation scum! could have been used, and not to mention repeated less
often. One minor sore point is the use of
MIDI for the soundtrack instead of using live instruments.
Still, the music makes a powerful effect on the game because its
authentic Star Wars music.
Battle for Naboo really shouldnt be
played by anybody but hardcore Star Wars fans. Arcade
gamers will find nothing fun about the game and flight sim enthusiasts shouldnt even
consider. Battle for Naboo is just another mediocre game that
tries to ride on the coat tails of the Star Wars franchise.