Post by KostaAndreadis @ 01:22pm 27/03/20 | 0 Comments
Ah, 1999 - the year we got Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the return of Star Wars and a film that isn't as bad as you might think. At the very least the Pod Racing sequence still holds up today as pure spectacle. Which is why the Nintendo 64's Star Wars Episode I: Racer was widely viewed as probably the only good Episode 1 tie-in.
Which is to say that it's coming back - with a re-release planned for the Nintendo Switch. The announcement came via the latest Nintendo Direct which streamed overnight -- where it was also announced that Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is available right now.
No details or screens or footage of Star Wars Episode I: Racer was shown other than it's "coming soon". But not to worry, we've got your Episode I nostalgia covered thanks to this video and snippet from our Throwback Thursday piece on Star Wars Episode I: Racer that we ran a while ago.
Before May the whatever 1999, Star Wars was pretty much infallible. And for those of you that were alive at the time, and sentient to a moderate degree, you’d recall a sense of hype surrounding the release of Episode I that was beyond huge. Hype so big that if it were a booty, Sir Mix-a-Lot would have written a catchy rap song about it. People were so taken aback by the mere fact that a new Star Wars movie was being released that fully grown men failed to question why they were buying posters, figurines, and pyjamas displaying the iconography of Jar Jar Binks. A character who was mere weeks away from being crowned Worst Gungan Ever and relegated to the bargain bins of stores like Toys R’ Us, Toy World, and Ye Old Sex Shoppe.
"Coming up after the break on 'Candy or Sex Toy?'"
So before the eventual cinematic let-down that is Episode I, Star Wars fans everywhere were understandably excited about the prospect of Pod Racing. Featured prominently across material leading up to the movie’s release, Pod Racing was an understandably exciting new addition to the Star Wars universe. One that turned out to be the Star Wars equivalent of the Bathurst 1000, but with fewer wheels and only a couple more weird looking alien creatures making up the crowd. By focussing on this one aspect of the film, the prospect of playing Episode I: Racer quickly positioned the game as a must play for millions of Star Wars fans.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that even though Episode I: Racer was one of two videogames based on The Phantom Menace, it was the only one that seemed to match the visceral nature of the trailers. Plus, it was the only one developed in-house at LucasArts. By 1999, LucasArts had already begun its transition into becoming a studio that worked on nothing but Star Wars related products. But, from its beginnings as a critically acclaimed development studio that created a string of original and instantly memorable games, this goodwill was still a year or two away from fading away.
As Episode I Racer historians we're hoping that the Switch version builds on the PC and Dreamcast releases that followed the Nintendo 64 -- which improved the visuals.