Aspyr recently released Star Wars Episode I: Racer on the Nintendo Switch and PS4. They were also kind enough to send me a copy of the game for the Switch to take for a spin. I’m having some mixed feelings about it.
Racer was first released back on the N64, and this is just a port. That means that it looks exactly the same and has only been touched up a bit to work well on modern consoles and support a 16:9 aspect ratio matching most consumer TVs. The visuals are still blocky polygons that look not good by today’s standard. Also, nothing will be explained to you. All the information you need was probably included in the manual which this digital port doesn’t have. The trick is that the manual doesn’t even have all the answers.
Honestly, once I remind myself this was an N64 game and get over the graphics I really only have three main complaints and they’re pretty nitpicky. First, I cannot find any official material that explains what the stats of each part on your podracer do. I found a copy of the PC manual from the original game and there’s absolutely nothing about what each of the stats are. Now, most of them are self-explanatory. However, what is Traction for? What makes Traction different from Turning? What does Cooling do in this game and how is it important?
Complaint number two is that boosts are not explained at all. I didn’t even know I had a boost until I looked at the controls (I didn’t get to play the original game very much). Then, it simply said A. What I later found out was you have to push up and then A. That’s a little annoying.
My third complaint is that it’s ridiculously easy. I went through a whole tournament and destroyed my competition. On some levels I would even crash one to two times per lap and still almost never saw another podracer on the track.
With all of that out of the way, Racer is still fun, and this port is very faithful and useful for people wanting to relive the old days. If you liked the original game, I highly recommend picking up this rerelease. I know the sequel, Racer’s Revenge, was released on PS4. I’d love to see it brought over to the Switch as well, and I’d even love a new podracing game. Just imagine how awesome it could be with today’s tools.