A short preface…
In honor of Star Wars month, I have asked some of our intermittent-authors to write articles. One of the writers is our old Roll the List writer Joe Quick. Joe has played a lot of old videogames and I have asked him to write something based off this topic. Today I present to you an article I have titled Retro-Viewer. This article is where Joe talks about older games that he remembers fondly and in honor of Star Wars month he chose…
Star Wars Episode I Jedi PowerBattles
In honor of the Star Wars Event here in the Aeither, the Joe Personality stirred in it’s slumber, sensing a powerful disturbance in the Force. An absence, if you will. (I’m not making a Yuuzhan Vong reference, shut up). An absence of any articles written! It has been far too long since I last lay quill to parchment (or booted up Word). So now I’m adding my two cents to this whole Star Wars thing!
I remembered a time long ago, in a galaxy that was totally just this one, but I was younger. I was only just older than a youngling when the first Prequel movie came out, and we weren’t quite as cynical about them yet. The entire industry looked shiny and new, and we were all just psyched about a new Star Wars. New aliens! New adventures! New Jedi! Which led to one of the sweetest side-scroller beat-’em-ups I can remember for the PS1 era:
Jedi Power Battles. I thought about going back and picking up a copy of the game, or just checking some videos to refresh my memory, but for this article I decided to just go off of what I can remember about the game, or at least the biggest points I can remember about it. Which leads us to…
Bullet Point Number 1: Plo Koon – the Most Underrated Jedi Master
Show of hands! Who remembers Master Plo Koon? Just kidding! I can’t see you anyway! This is the Internet, and I am not part of the NSA! Plo Koon is barely even acknowledged in the Star Wars Prequels, showing up maybe three times throughout all three movies in almost cameo-like fashion before he’s shot out of the sky in Episode III. My introduction to him (and the Kel-Dor race, in fact) was with Power Battles. Look at that dude! He’s got a cool rebreather, he’s all alien-y and shit, and he’s got an ORANGE Lightsaber! None of that Blue/Green nonsense, I’ma feed you an ORANGE SLICE, DROIDBITCH!! (Which was actually a thing I remember shouting while playing).
Plo Koon played as the Power Hitter of the selectable characters, moving slightly slower (but not clunky) than the others, but dealing almost twice the damage with each strike. He also had a sweet AOE spinning attack, which would devastate most enemies nearby. Playing as Master Koon required a better grasp on the timing of the game, as your swings took a half-second more to connect than say, Obi-Wan’s. Timing was very important for one other aspect, which I will address in point number 2.
Bullet Point Number 2: Laser Redirect!
One key technique of the Power Battles is blocking, as one would expect in a game about fighting/combat/lightsabers. However when a Battle Droid had you in its sights, and your timing was just right, you could perform one of the most iconic of Jedi tricks. That’s right, you could actually bounce their laser blast right back to their stupid weirdly thin faces. Once I had that down, the game was redefined. I remember being surrounded by like, three droids while two others stood at my flank, taking careful aim. Was Plo Koon scared? Hell no! He unleashed his AOE, destroying two of them, slashing through the third and expertly blocking BOTH incoming laser blasts, taking out all five enemies in three perfectly orchestrated attacks. I felt like a GOD. I think I immediately jumped into a bottomless death-pit and used up my last continue, but such is life.
No joke though, the game was very difficult. And with limited continues, it could be downright punishing. And when it came to punishing, no boss does it better than…
Bullet Point Number 3: The Apprentice… Darth Maul
I have to say straight away that I’m a huge fan of Maul. He’s just so cool! He’s everything I think of when I think of the spiritual predecessor of Vader.
And in this game, he’s no exception. Maul leads you into a false sense of security in the first encounter on Tatooine, where if you’re careful, you can whip his ass pretty soundly. However, you fight your way to the end of the game, the last level, and suddenly he stops pretending like he’s A.I. He becomes the darkest night of your life. You suddenly understand why Qui Gon died. He’s fast, he’s strong, you chase him throughout an entire stage! You keep squaring off with him over and over through recognizable sets, when at last you arrive at the final arena, the very pit where Obi-Wan cut him in half in the movie! If you don’t let him get to you, he can be beaten.
Of course, there’s no reason you have to face the danger alone…
Bullet Point Number 4: Co-Op. CO-OP. COO-OOOOOOOOOOOPPPP!!!
Oh my god the co-op function of this game was amazing. With the style of Side-Scroller beat-’em-ups, it may not seem like a big deal, but as a Star Wars fan, it was so bad-ass! You could initially go through Episode I as Obi-Wan and Qui Gon, which was neat, but it leads to some cool what-if scenarios! Like, what if Kenobi was tutored under Mace Windu instead? What if Ki Adi Mundi and Adi Galia were the two sent into the Separatist Ship instead of Qui Gon and Obi-Wan? What if Plo Koon killed literally everything that moved?!
I know it doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but man, some of my favorite memories from this game came from playing with friends. Going through the final showdown against Maul with a skilled friend at my side made the entire experience so much more epic. It felt like Duel of the Fates, but we both survive! Barely… after several continues.
In summation, this is still one of my favorite nostalgia trains of all time. There are few games in my personal history that come to mind when thinking of great achievements (Tekken 3 is one, but I’ll save that for another article), but this one always puts a warm glow in my belly and a twinkle in my eye… and now, I’ll be off making lightsaber noises with my mouth and irritating my co-workers.