- Genre- Scrolling Fighter
- Platform- PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance (version tested), Nintendo DS, Mobile Phone
- Developer- The Collective Inc
- Publisher- LucasArts
- Release date- May 4, 2005
Ah, the art of the side scrolling fighting game. A lost art, wouldn’t you say? Maybe even a dead art, perhaps. However, while researching what Star Wars games I should play for this epic Star War month I came across a Gameboy Advance title that I’d never heard of. And, to my absolute joy, it was a side scrolling fighting game. Star Wars + side scrolling fighting should be awesome, right?
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, developed by The Collective Inc, and released in 2005 for the Gameboy Advance really surprised me in many ways. First off, I fully expected yet another shoddy film tie-in with little or none of it’s own unique art style. Secondly, I expected a completely dull and mishandled lightsaber game mechanic which, as for most Star Wars games, seems to be the case. The story closely follows the events of Revenge of the Sith however, as expected with a genre like this, the game tends to mainly focus on all the action set pieces from Revenge of the Sith than, say, the downfall of Anakin Skywalker. That’s to be expected though but the developers do a great job at trimming down all the sequences to get the player right to the action without completely castrating the narrative of film.
You play the role of either Anakin Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi as they make their way through 13 levels. Both Anakin and Obi-Wan, for the most part, have entirely separate levels however some do crossover when the story calls for both to be present. You both start off on board the ship of General Grievous, the cyborg commander of the separatists droids, in a bid to rescue Chancellor Palpatine who has been held hostage. As expected from any other scrolling fighting game the gameplay basically consists of you scrolling from left to right taking out enemies with the action being broken up between the occasional boss fight. Using the lighsaber is rather fun and can be used for a normal attack, a high attack and a low attack. For the most part you’ll end up merely mashing the attack button but for boss fights, particularly those against other lighsaber wielders, learning low and high attacks is vital. Also, you wouldn’t have a Star Wars game without powers of the Force. They’re all here and can range from Force Push, pull, lighsaber throw and lightning. The input controls of the GBA are quite limited but the developers make great use of the shoulder buttons. By holding down the left shoulder button your Jedi enters a Force stance whereby upon using any of the four directional d-pag controls unleashes a force power. By holding down the right shoulder button you’ll simply block. The controls, as basic as they are, are extremely well implemented.
The graphics are some of the best to grace a GBA title and are colourful, chunky, stylish and, while it might not have been the intention, almost look Anime-esque in their design. Most Star Wars titles often stick too closely too the films which almost makes you wish the developers added a bit of their own personality to the game. Revenge of the Sith on the GBA expertly balances between both looking like its source material while standing out as a unique looking title. It all looks terrific, how the droids smash up upon a lightsaber strike, how you can sprint into a fast paced lightsaber attack and even right down to the brash facial expressions Anakin pulls during the cut scenes. The music is chosen quite well and while it is merely just official Star Wars music redone it’s done to great effect. Some GBA music tends too be too harsh and sharp on the ears but this isn’t the case with Revenge of the Sith.
What I also liked about Revenge of the Sith was how the player can assume the role of either Anakin or Obi-Wan. This basically gives the player two games for the price of one but also does a great job of covering two rather different stories- Obi-Wans battle to defeat the Dark Side and Anakins downfall into the Dark Side itself. As mentioned before the narrative isn’t exactly fleshed to a satisfying degree but it is done enough to make each play through feel quite different.
Yeah, at the end of the day it’s quite linear but the game doesn’t pretend to offer anything else beyond fast paced scrolling action. If you’re looking for a fun little Star Wars title that is perfect to just pick up and play you could do much worse than Revenge of the Sith for the GBA. It may not capture the subtleties of Anakins downfall well but it does replicate what makes Star Wars great- fun and adventure.