Growing up, the only thing I loved more than video games was Star Wars. My brother and I had almost every action figure and we watched our VHS copies of all three movies until we wore out the tapes. And while I loved the Super Star Wars series on SNES, they paled in comparison to the feeling of joy I got when I player Star Wars: Rouge Squadron for the first time on the N64. It was like nothing I had ever experienced, for the first time I felt like I was actually piloting an X-Wing on a daring mission to save the galaxy. Revisiting Rouge Squadron on PC has given me somewhat mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s a wicked blast of nostalgia; on the other, the game definitely hasn’t aged well.
In Star Wars: Rouge Squadron players take on the role of Luke Skywalker as the leader of Rouge Squadron, a group of Rebel fighters continuing their battle against the Galactic Empire. The game’s first fifteen levels occur six months after the Battle of Yavin and before the events of The Empire Strikes Back, although the last level takes place six months after the Battle of Endor. The story is broken into four chapters that will have players blasting Tie-Fighters across Tatooine, Corellia and even the prison planet of Kessel. Players can unlock battles from the films by completing the game or using passwords, like the Death Star trench run or the famous Battle of Hoth.
The gameplay is where the game both shines and kind of lacks. While basic control is still pretty responsive, it does feel a bit janky at times, which you may or may not forgive for the game’s age. Throughout the game players will be able to pilot a wide range of ships from X-Wings to Y-Wings and even the Millennium Falcon, which can also be unlocked through a password. Each ship controls differently and offers different strategic advantage; the Y-Wing is slow but effective for dropping bombs, while a Speeder lacks altitude capability but offers increased maneuverability and the cable line. While there’s certainly something for everyone, you wouldn’t be faulted for sticking with the X-Wing which is probably the most well-rounded of all ships being quick, accurate and having the added benefit of photon torpedoes and the ability to switch out of battle mode for increased speed.
Graphically, the game is a bit underwhelming, albeit a product of it’s time. Rouge Squadron does look good with the cleaned up HD textures, although it’s not hard to notice the lack of overall level design, which also isn’t helped by the “fog-of-war” which was useful for hiding graphical flaws in the late 90’s, but just seem’s silly now. However, despite that, as a relic of a bygone era, one can see how the scope and feel of the whole thing, as well as certain attention to details like the R2 unit on the X-Wing, or exhaust flames were pretty impressive back in the day.
Sound design is as on point as it was when the game was first released. The iconic John Williams scores are left in-tact and everything from the laser sound effects to the distinct Tie-Fighter screech make the entire game feel as close to the movies as possible. Even the voice acting is pretty good for the time with character sound-a-likes doing an admirable job as Luke and Wedge, and character dialogue being believable delivered, although this could be due to the limited technical speech of space dog fighters.
If the game has one major problem it’s speed. I know it’s a game from 1998, however I can’t help but feel like it just moves to slow compared to other more recent Star Wars games, or similar space fighters. Like I mentioned earlier, as a nostalgia game, it definitely serves it’s purpose but after a little while I found myself getting bored by it’s pace, and I worried any newcomer looking to dive into the Star Wars gaming library may be left wanting.
There’s no denying that Star Wars: Rouge Squadron 3D is still as good as it was back in 1998 and any fan of the series should definitely pick this one up if tracking down an N64 copy serves too difficult. Especially in the wake of Rouge One, fans may definitely want to add this nostalgia blast on top of that one.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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