When “Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace” released in theaters in 1999; a massive marketing campaign saw loads of merchandise tied into the film. While this included many video game tie-ins, one in particular became a staple among fans of the saga; racing games and the Nintendo 64 alike: “Star Wars Episode I- Racer.” Now, more than 20 years since that time; the game has seen an HD remaster for modern systems, giving existing players the perfect way to re-experience it and new ones a chance to try it out.
This version on the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 saw its release this past June (after being delayed from its planned May release due to the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic). The game features all the tracks and characters from the beloved N64 classic; with a host of features to help bring the title into modern console generations. The graphics have smoothed out the textures from the original N64 game; and the races run at a constant 60 frames per second. The game’s audio has also been given an overhaul, with both the voice clips and John Williams’ music now optimized for newer digital sound setups.
Of course, the gameplay is the main draw; and the thrill of high-octane “podracing” has stood the test of time since the title’s original release in 1999. The control setup translates perfectly to modern gamepads, with the right analog stick taking the place of the C buttons on the original N64 controller. The game also supports online multiplayer and in the case of the Playstation 4 version, trophies on the Playstation Network. Aspyr Media, who previously remastered the “Jedi Knight” games for modern consoles, have risen admirably to the task of honoring the fondly-remembered N64 title as well as introducing it to a new generation.
Overall, “Star Wars Episode I- Racer” has stood the test of time as one of the best racing games on the N64; with the HD remaster being perfect for both new and existing players alike. “Now THIS is podracing!”
Review by Steven Pryor
Title: Star Wars Episode I- Racer
ESRB Rated: E
Publisher: LucasArts (original)/Aspyr Media (HD)
Platform: Nintendo Switch eShop (Also available on Playstation Network Store, original release on Nintendo 64)