Super Empire Strikes Back is basically the I Wanna Be The Guy of Star Wars games. Following hot on the heels of the neat-but-flawed prequel, it recycles the same very decent game engine and attention to detail in presentation that gives the game the look and feel of the original trilogy (particularly with regards to the synth-ifying of the original John Williams score, which is quite well handled). The problem is that the level design and enemy placement is some of the worst I've ever seen, period, on any console, in any generation.

The action picks up right at the start of the film, but in this one the second Luke steps outside he is faced with the relentless assault of every single form of wildlife in the immediate area. Enemies don't only respawn continually when you scroll the screen a little bit, certain types seem to be in a non-stop loop of spawning constantly no matter what, like the Ninja Gaiden birds that never stop spawning behind you and immediately diving for your head.

Luke's only saving grace in these brutal side-scrolling levels is the fact that he starts out with a lightsaber and can endlessly spam a twirling sword-jump similar to the "Jump and Slash" power-up in Ninja Gaiden. This move cuts through most of the endlessly spawning-in enemies, though it doesn't protect you from plunges into pits and icicles you couldn't have possibly anticipated prior to jumping into them. In the second segment of the first level, he gets a tauntaun who can soak up some damage, but you'll quickly abandon it to its frosty death once you realize you're way better off constantly doing the jump-and-twirl than trying to ride anything.

Apparently there are more skimmer/flying levels as there were in the first game, but honestly I never got to see them, the second level did me in. You go to that cave where Luke got attacked by that abominable snowman thing, but in the game it's gigantic and there's about 700 of them running around. They can arbitrarily freeze you while you're slicing at them, and if that happens at the wrong time you slide off a cliff and into a spike pit to your instant death. Not that not taking enough chip damage from the continuing all-out wildlife assault isn't enough to do you in by itself. That and randomly getting thrust upward into spikes when there's no visual indication that an air jet or whatver the hell it's supposed to be is going to do that.

                            Get ready to see a lot of this

Really, this game should be in the dictionary under "bullshit hard." It's like they recruited a level designer who never did anything prior except for really crappy sidescrollers on the NES in 1986. Which is a damn shame because the underlying engine is actually pretty good and it looks and sounds quite nice.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video

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