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Release year: 1996 | Players: 1 player | Developed by LucasArts
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (N64)
Star Wars games have come far when it comes to game style and patronage, owing to the huge fanbase of the franchise. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire is set in the period coinciding with the events in the movie The Empire Strikes Back.
The game is highly-anticipated by fans because LucasArts developed the game themselves. The Nintendo 64’s features also led to high expectations among gamers in the day. Graphics were expected to be stunning and, at least for the initial part of the game, Shadows of the Empire did deliver.
The game opens with an impressive 3D cinematic introduction which exposes the game’s setting. It’s the first Star Wars game to feature the iconic sequence which opens Star Wars movies, complete with the familiar musical accompaniment.
The player is then transported to a spaceship which navigates a 3d open battle arena. It’s the first game stage and the goal is to eliminate imperial probe droids and take down their AT-ST’s without shooting friendly turrets.
The graphics for this level is spectacular, closely emulating real landscapes and the feeling of control over the player’s spacecraft. Crosshairs also help improve a player’s accuracy when shooting down enemy vehicles.
From this, the game goes downhill. The second stage features third-person on-foot gameplay starring the rebel Dash Rendar, an all-new character created for this game. Even the opponent, Prince Xizor, isn’t from Canon. The game’s plot is still linked to the movie’s storyline and is later made into a novel and comics of the same title, enriching the Star Wars universe.
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Although a big jump from the Star Wars Atari games, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire still left much to be desired for fans and players who were simply interested in space action games. The levels that featured piloting spacecraft are good but the on-foot levels didn’t maximize N64’s full capacity for both graphics and gameplay.
One redeeming aspect of this game would be its music, which closely resembled that of the Star Wars movies.
As one of the first Nintendo games of its kind, Shadows of the Empire was still considered a spectacle back in the day, and was even the third top-selling Nintendo 64 game in 1996, a year after it was released.
This game remains charming to this day. It is a testament to gaming’s golden age and serves as an important piece of history for fans.
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire game has been ported to Nintendo 64 (this version) and Microsoft Windows.